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Improve Productivity Through Delegation

Are you one of those owners or managers who has trouble delegating responsibility to other employees? If so, then it’s likely you carry a high stress load and may never have enough time to get everything done.

However, if you are able to delegate responsibility of routine activities to the team of employees around you, then it’s likely you’ll manage your time more effectively and free up your energy to focus on improving operations and planning for the future. You’ll also realize that, as you empower employees with more responsibility, they will work harder and be more satisfied with their jobs because they understand they are important to the team.

Here are some techniques that will help when deciding when to delegate tasks and how to find the employees who can accomplish them effectively.

  • Review your task list. First, decide what tasks you will delegate. Look at the list of everything you need to do in a day and determine which projects could be completed easily by someone else. By eliminating time-consuming, low-return jobs from your routine, you’ll be able to spend more time on jobs that require your specific set of skills.
  • Match the employee to the task. You obviously want to delegate tasks to employees who can handle them, but don’t overlook people who may not have the proper skills yet. Investing in your employees through training will help you develop a strong staff. Newer employees may be well-suited to a task, they just need proper coaching. When you delegate a task that expands an employee’s knowledge or skill base, you have expanded your support base. When that task comes up in the future, you’ll have more staff who can complete the job.
  • Be specific. Delegate whole projects that enable the employee to work start to finish on one task. When assigning a task, explain why the job needs to be done, the expected results, deadlines and any ongoing reporting that may be necessary. Also explain how the task fits into your business’s overall goals. This communication helps the employee understand they have a sizable role in the success of the business. After you explain the assignment to the employee, have them repeat it back to you in their own words to ensure you both understand each other.
  • Encourage communication. Make sure employees know they can come to you when they have questions or ideas about the task you’ve given them. Not only does this knowledge make them feel more appreciated, but also it will encourage them to share cost- or time-saving ideas. It also helps catch minor mistakes before they become larger problems.
  • Give the appropriate authority. When you delegate a task, give the employee the authority to make their own decisions, then get out of the way. If you end up micromanaging the task, it could end up being more work for both of you and leave your employee frustrated. If you micromanage, you may need to accept the fact that there is more than one way to complete the project, as the employee may want to try their own ideas. Give help when requested, but do not do the entire job for the employee. Otherwise, they will not develop confidence in themselves. Realize that this approach means the employee may make mistakes, but that failure is a part of learning.
  • Give credit where credit is due. Don’t take the project back until it is complete. Then when it is finished, give the employee feedback. Consider also giving the employee public recognition if it’s appropriate to the situation. True recognition rewards the employee who completed the project and reinforces good work habits. It also sets a standard for other employees to follow.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton
Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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