How to master the art of delegation and overcome the urge to micromanage

by Ana Lopez

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

Mastering the art of delegation is a crucial aspect of leadership; it can improve efficiency, empower your team and ultimately lead your business to success. But finding the balance between control and delegation is tricky. In fact, many leaders struggle to let go and control their urge to micromanage every aspect of their business. Overzealous micromanagement often results in underdeveloped teams, inefficient processes, and a lack of company-wide progress, hindering a company’s progress.

As an, I can empathize with the struggle to handle every aspect of a business on my own. Moreover, I agree with wanting to arrange many aspects myself. However, as a company grows, this approach becomes unsustainable and the need to be involved in everything becomes our own worst enemy.

My “A-HA!” moment came when I hired my first executive assistant and realized that 80% of my daily tasks do not require my skills, knowledge or expertise. On the contrary, I learned that I could free up a lot of time to focus on what really matters: growing my business by investing some time and effort in training and trusting someone else to handle things for me. While the “I know how to do it and they don’t” mentality is a regular obstacle, leaders should try to remember that at some point we were taught what we know from someone else, and in the same way we can teach others.

Related: The Art and Science of Delegation (Infographic)

Delegation is a powerful tool for business growth not only because of its benefit to leaders. It requires investment in the development of other team members, which pays off in more ways than one. Upskilling and training team members not only frees up time to focus on critical aspects of the business, but also empowers your team to contribute to its overall growth and success.

I am by no means saying that this process was or still is easy; it requires constant effort and is hardly ever comfortable – until you see the results. The efficiency you achieve by handing over tasks you will never be able to achieve on your own and that in itself is reason enough to start delegating work to others.

Yet there is a time and place for everything. You can’t delegate every task, and you really shouldn’t. Rather, before giving anything off, consider a few things that will help you determine whether or not it is appropriate or effective.

1. Confidentiality: the sensitivity of the information involved

Sensitive information, such as certain financial, legal or HR records, and personal information must be handled with the utmost care and caution. If you are entrusted with sensitive information (such as that of a client), it is your responsibility to maintain its confidentiality and not to delegate it to others without express permission. In some cases, such as handling payroll in a small, close-knit team, you want to keep your employees away from sensitive details for privacy reasons; however, even in this scenario, you can still delegate the task to someone outside your team, such as an outside bookkeeper. In other cases, where the task is sensitive but relatively simple and does not involve the team itself, it may be appropriate to delegate it to members of your team.

2. Recurrence: Evaluate delegation based on task frequency

Tasks that are repetitive, simple and do not contain confidential information are often excellent candidates for delegation. However, it is important to also assess how often this task will occur in the future. If the job requires a significant investment of time to train someone else and is unlikely to be repeated over an extended period of time, teaching/delegating it may not be the best use of your resources. Rather, in this case, it may be more efficient for you to complete the task alone to get it done and move on to greater things.

Related: How to Delegate Better and Become a Great Leader

3. Resource management: delegation for time and cost efficiency

Occasionally you will perform tasks that are below your level of experience or skills. If the job has been assigned to you by a client, supervisor or investor who believes you are the best person for the job, it’s important to communicate your perspective. Explain that your skills, knowledge and expertise could be best used elsewhere, and consider the financial impact of spending time doing things that could be done with cheaper resources. As a leader, you are responsible for promoting smart and cost-effective decision making to drive the success of your business and/or customers. Even if you end up doing the work yourself, it’s important to regularly review your priorities and make sure your time is being used effectively.

4. Intention: Balance between delegation and personal involvement

It’s okay to occasionally take on tasks that don’t really require your abilities, while the intent is beneficial to you and your company. Taking on smaller or mindless tasks can give you a (sometimes much-needed) break from demanding day-to-day responsibilities and a welcome change of pace. Some tasks can help you stay connected to your team’s work and manage it more effectively, while others are just fun and enjoyable. Involvement in “smaller” tasks need not be harmful, especially if done with the intentional intent of furthering the company’s success and long-term goals.

When planning effective delegation, leaders must look beyond the present moment and consider the impact on future growth and success. While it can be tempting to take on tasks ourselves, it is essential to step outside our comfort zones and focus on tasks that align with our unique experiences and abilities. By doing this, we can optimize our time and energy and avoid wasting resources on tasks that can be performed by others. Careful consideration of how leaders allocate their time and effort is a fundamental part of their ability to grow.

Related: 10 Successful Entrepreneurs on Why Delegating Effectively Is Difficult But Necessary

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