7 Effective Delegation Skills to Develop Early on in Your Business
Before starting my online business, I’d heard that one of people’s biggest regrets was not hiring an assistant sooner. So, I hired a virtual assistant with the first 30 bucks that I made. It was a great decision. But I also learned that delegating tasks to an assistant effectively requires skills.
If you have an assistant or want to get an assistant, but you’re not really sure how to delegate tasks, this is for you. Let's talk about the seven effective delegation skills that you should develop early on in your business.
Delegation Skill #1: Communicate Effectively
The first delegation skill is to communicate effectively, and that might sound like common sense. But let me explain what I mean by that, because believe it or not, people are not mind readers. Shocker, right?
When I first hired an assistant, it was someone from overseas and English was not her first language, so I knew communication might be an issue. I had to get really intentional with communication. I started using tools to help me communicate effectively. Two of my favorites are ScreenFlow and Trello.
ScreenFlow is a screen-recording program which you can use through QuickTime for free. You just record your screen as you demonstrate stuff. It is so much easier and faster than typing it all out, and it leaves a lot less room for misinterpretation. I can very easily say, “Click here,” instead of trying to type out instructions like “On the top left…scroll down till you see this or that…”
Trello is a project management app, and there are a lot more out there. It lets you create “boards” for each project you have going on. All communication about the project goes on its specific board. It is great when you’ve got a lot of different projects going on.
Delegation Skill #2: Encourage Questions and Input
Even as clear as I try to be, sometimes I don’t make a lot of sense. My assistants both know to ask me, “Is this what you meant? Do you prefer this or this?” That way they can be sure they are approaching the task in the right away. We save time and I get the results I want.
I also encourage them to bring me ideas. They’ve been with me for a couple of years now. They know what I like and what I don’t like. They are also very intelligent, creative people. So I don’t always tell them what to do every step of the way.
Sometimes they bring me ideas that I don’t like and I just say, “No, let’s do it how we were doing it.”
Other times, their ideas are brilliant and change directions for us. For example, I suck with images but have one assistant who is great with them. So I love it when she says, “Do you like this font or that font?” This saves me the trouble of picking out a font myself. So I would absolutely recommend that you encourage them to communicate with you.
Delegation Skill #3: Develop Processes
The third delegation skill is to develop processes, systems, checklists, routines, or anything that you can do to make tasks a bit like an assembly line. This really cuts down on communication for things that you are constantly doing.
For example, one of the things I’m doing right now is creating videos for you guys and then making a blog post out of it and that blog post needs an image and then it needs to be put onto social media. So we’ve come up with a standard set of procedures. All I have to communicate is that Video 5 is ready and the rest of it happens like magic.
This is something that you absolutely want to start as soon as possible, and it leads into number four, which is to batch your work.
Delegation Skill #4: Assign Work in Batches
Each time you start a new tasks or shift gears, you lose a bit of momentum. If you can batch out work, you will keep up the momentum. This tip I picked up from Denise Duffield-Thomas of LuckyBitch.com. She’s a genius at batching work.
Here is an example of how it works. When I film my videos, I film a lot of them on the same day. I just change my shirt and necklace, and then roll from one video to the next. That way I can give my assistant 4 or 5 videos at once. She takes it from there and moves on to the next step. If you batch your work, your assistants can also batch their work.
Batching tasks makes it much more efficient because, if you’re getting yourself psyched up to do a certain task and then moving on 20 minutes later to a different task, there’s a lot of energy lost in that gear-shifting.
Delegation Skill #5: Know Your Assistants’ Strengths
The fifth delegation skill is to pay attention to your assistants’ strengths, and use this knowledge to diversify. I love my assistants, all of them. I have a couple of them that are kind of regulars that work with me every single day and then I have other team members that we outsource to on an as-needed basis. By understanding what their strengths are, I’ve been able to delegate tasks accordingly to them.
One of the things we did this year was take the Fascination Advantage Quiz. It’s different than your standard strengths test. I really love it and it’s my favorite quiz of its kind.
Once you know your assistants’ strengths and weaknesses, you can fill in the gaps when you’re ready to hire new people. You can also shift duties around a bit. For example, one of my assistants really doesn’t like to do little stuff. She’s much more of a big picture person. She helps me a lot when we do eBooks, but she hates doing things like the reference section.
I’m really glad that she’s honest about that, and also her test showed it as well. My other assistant is great at doing the small tasks, and she’s also great at images, et cetera. So their strengths and weaknesses complement each other.
In the beginning, you might only be able to hire one person, so this may be a bit of an advanced strategy. But keep it in mind, as Chris Ducker likes to say, there is no such thing as a super VA. None of us are super humans and we can’t be great at everything. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and your assistants will as well.
Delegation Skill #6: Delegate Often
Delegate often – even the little things. You need to keep flexing that delegation muscle because, at first, it’s kind of tricky.
You might find yourself thinking, “I don’t have anything to delegate.” Trust me, you do! Because there’s no way that everything in your business can be done by you. And chances are that you aren’t great at everything. Leave those tasks for someone else. It will give you more time to do the things which absolutely require you. Remember, all those 5-minute tasks all add up. Delegate them and you will have an extra hour in the week. You need this time to build your online business! Don't believe me? Watch this video where I talk about how to build your business in 15 minutes at a time.
Here is how to start delegating more often:
Make a to-do list with everything on it. Separate the to-do list into 2 parts: things that absolutely must be done by you, and the things that someone else can do.
My philosophy is that only 20% of your business requires you. 80% of it could be done by someone else. Get really intentional about it. Hire someone very part-time if that’s all you can start with. It is much better than nothing. Just keep delegating and, trust me, it will become addicting. Soon you will start seeing who you can hire for what. It never ends, which is awesome. 🙂
If you still aren't sure what to delegate, here I talk about the tasks I outsource to my virtual assistant.
Delegation Skill #7: Go to Control Freak Rehab
By this, I mean that you should just let things go. Nobody is perfect. Things are not going to go perfectly.
I’m a bit of a Type A. This is why tip #1 was to communicate effectively. Make sure you communicate the things which are really important to you. For example, my main assistant knows that broken links in emails drive me crazy. She knows that I am happy to pay her for 3 hours worth of work so she can send herself test emails and click every single link to make sure they work. I’d rather do this than have her do it in 15 minutes and then have to send out an apology email with the correct link. For some people, this might not be a big deal. For me, it’s a big deal and my assistant knows it.
But don’t be a control freak and say, “Oh, I have to do it myself. I have to do everything myself because nobody can do it like me!” If you get into that mindset, then you won’t be able to delegate, and you are going to be stuck doing everything in your business by yourself.
Communicate what is important, and ease up on the rest. Go easy on your assistants and give them a chance to improve and learn along the way.
So those are my seven effective delegation skills to develop early on in your business.
Is there an eighth skill that I missed? I would love to hear from you in the comments.