After reading Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek and Mike Michalowicz’ Clockwork, I became a believer in the power of delegation. I admit I am nowhere near an expert and I still have much to learn, but from my own research and experience, I have found that there are a myriad of tasks that you can delegate to your virtual team members, and with easier access to technology and the gig economy the possibilities are almost endless.
Unlike all the other articles you have probably seen online that give a list of these certain tasks, I want to be a little contrarian and talk about my personal experiences with delegating tasks to a virtual team and share generally what I think about delegation instead.
I’m not saying that lists are a bad thing and that everyone else is doing it wrong, but what I’m saying is that I figured that it would be better for you to understand the driving factors and the core foundations so that you can learn to delegate effectively on your own terms.
If you remember the old tale of giving the man the fish or teaching him to fish, this is along the same lines. If you understand the idea of delegation, you will stop looking to posts and listicles on tasks you can hand over to a virtual team.
YOUR FIRST HURDLE
In the online world, you have literally thousands of virtual team members to choose from who possess different skill sets to meet the specific needs of your business.
So the challenge isn’t really about deciding WHAT to delegate, but in my case, it was more about deciding HOW to delegate.
When my business reached the point wherein I had to outsource more aspects of my business, I needed to learn how to delegate, and a hurdle that I had to overcome was learning how to relinquish control.
And it’s been a goal of mine to delegate more of the tasks effectively where I let the team know what needs to happen, and through creating proper documentation, they can just get on with the task with minimum to no supervision from me.
I also needed to know how to draw the line between knowing what to delegate and knowing what not to delegate. I realised that I shouldn’t be too rigid with control which could result in not giving my team opportunities to get better at their craft. I have had to learn to trust my team to learn on the job, and yes, maybe even make mistakes along the way.
But before we get into the foundations, let’s cover some other points that you may be curious to know as well.
SHOULD YOU DELEGATE TASKS YOU ENJOY?
The beauty about delegation is that because every business is different, there is no set rule as to what you should delegate.
Deciding whether you want to delegate the tasks that you enjoy is really a matter of personal preference, and this will depend on where you stand among these 3 types of people:
- People who want to outsource everything in their business
- People who want to outsource only the things that they’re not good at
- People who want to outsource the things they don’t enjoy so that they can personally do the things they enjoy, even if some of these tasks are time consuming
This means that deciding how much you should delegate is completely up to YOU. I believe that outsourcing and delegation give people the freedom to decide what type of business model they want to run and how involved they want to be.
In other words, if you want to be the business owner that’s always doing stuff, you get people to do the things that you’re not good at and you keep doing the things that you enjoy doing. If you want to build a business that works for you, then you find and hire people to run the business for you, and all you have to do is give your strategic input and guidance and then they go and do everything.
So, there is no straight yes or no answer to this. People are different and people have different motivations and different drivers as to why they choose to outsource, delegate, and start their business in the first place.
In my case, there are times when I don’t want to do anything at all and I let the team do everything for me. Other times, there are certain things that I want to do myself so I let the team do the things that I don’t want to do and I go and do the things that I want to do.
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE DELEGATION?
This may be something that you’re asking yourself as well.
Is it wrong to delegate E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G?
Is it wrong to delegate just one thing while you handle 90% of the business yourself?
Well, knowing the answer to this is really going to depend, and there are a few variables to take into consideration.
The first variable is the human element of the person who has to delegate. In my other blog post where I talk about My Experiences in Managing a Virtual Team, I mentioned that I am a bit of a control freak.
This vice of mine is causing a little bit of an issue right now, because I am not able to identify whether I’m delegating too much. On the other hand, I recognise the symptoms when I am delegating too little because I become stressed, I feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day, I feel like I can’t take in more clients, and in some extreme cases, I feel like the team is useless (but that is not true because it is just a story I tell myself because I’m not delegating).
Everyone on the team has expressed that they are willing to help me out in whatever task so choosing to delegate isn’t really the issue, but it’s really just more of me relinquishing control over anything else.
So this variable will vary from person to person and there may be some people who find it easier to delegate tasks than others.
The other variable that determines the degree to which you want to delegate will depend greatly on the confidence that you have in the team working with you.
If you don’t have confidence in your team, then you’re not going to feel as confident in giving them tasks to do because you feel like they’re going to make mistakes and you’re better off doing the tasks yourself.
You need to give the team the opportunity to do better at things that you need them to do. And as the person who is the business owner and the person who is going to be delegating, you need to put those systems in place so that your team doesn’t have to constantly harass you for answers or for things to do.
To recap, being able to identify whether you are delegating too much or too little will depend on how comfortable you are with giving tasks to other people, and whether you are completely confident in those people to carry out the tasks for you.
SHOULD YOU LEARN HOW TO DO A CERTAIN TASK BEFORE DELEGATING IT?
As a person who wants to make sure that everything is done right (hello, perfectionist Tega), I would much rather prefer to have knowledge over a certain task before delegating it to one of my team members.
And because I am naturally curious, I want to make sure that I know how to solve something, especially when my team needs answers.
But don’t get me wrong. This does not mean that I (nor anyone else for that matter) have/has to be a complete master in a certain skill before delegating it. We aren’t Google and we can’t have the solution to every problem.
There will be times when you will need to leverage other people’s systems — such as courses and templates — and then taking their systems and plugging it into your business so that these solutions get the results you and your team want to get.
In my case, there are times where I pay people for consultation as well so that they can offer their solutions and help you fix the problem.
Now that we’ve covered some top-of-mind questions, let’s talk about what I feel are the foundations of delegation and get those wheels turning.
THE 3 TYPES OF TASKS YOU CAN DELEGATE
Delegate the Implementation
Whenever it comes to outsourcing tasks, the first thing that I prioritise is the implementation part of my business, whether it’s my own stuff or stuff for a client.
Implementation is what takes the most time, and if it’s something that someone else can do and do just as well, if not better, with as little guidance from me as possible, it makes sense to outsource that.
This is the reason why I believe that establishing systems, processes and documentation is so important. Once you have all of this in place, it’s easier for your team members to implement what you need them to do since everything is already in place.
In the case of my podcast management agency, it took a while to outsource the implementation because I had to figure everything out myself first, but once I was able to outsource the implementation aspect, it became so easy to simply collect the payment from my client, and have my team take care of the next steps to deliver the service we sell/solution we provide — Podcast Management.
Taking care of the entire process became second nature for my team because everything was documented and standardised.
This goes to show that outsourcing the implementation is a very solid first step, because you know what everyone else has to do, and everyone else knows what they have to do. Which cuts down on the scope of errors and me and that the team can just get on with the work we have to do.
And as I mentioned in the previous section, having knowledge in what I needed to delegate mattered to me. I wanted to make sure that I would be able to answer my team members’ questions so that when the team members become stuck or if there was a roadblock, they would come to me to help them solve the problem.
If they think that I wouldn’t be able to answer their questions, it could mean that they would have to go elsewhere. And it’s risky because the validity of where they get their answers from then comes into question.
Not knowing where they get their sources from could lead to them developing bad habits or not properly implementing the things they need to do.
But I do not want to take monopoly over the solving of all problems (however because of how my brain is wired, I more often than not want to figure out the solution myself). So I definitely give my team the freedom to find the solutions themselves and come back to me with some options so that we can choose the best solution together.
Delegating the Admin
Admin is a great thing to delegate as well because it takes a chunk of your time and mostly consists of repetitive tasks.
Using the podcast management agency as an example again, what happens is that when the client pays, there’s a whole bunch of things that need to be settled before the actual implementation.
- Do they already have a podcast?
- If they don’t have a podcast, do they have a preferred podcast host?
- Do they plan on creating a website for their podcast?
- Have they already started recording?
- And a whole lot more…
If they do already have a podcast, it makes things a bit easier on your end because you’re just working with what they already have, including the systems that they have put into place.
And if they don’t have any systems yet, this is where having an understanding of the process becomes useful, because all you have to do is transplant your current system into their operations, depending on how malleable your system is.
Malleable in the sense that if they have a podcast and they don’t have processes in place yet, your processes can easily fit with what they do because all they need to do is record the episodes and you can handle everything else.
Because admin tasks are mostly repetitive, it only makes sense to create proper systems and documentation for this. That way, everything from processing payments to handling any necessary “paperworks” is completely standardised and less prone to errors.
Delegating the Creation of Systems and Processes
I don’t know how many times I’ve mentioned “systems and processes” in this blog post, but you probably figured that it’s such an important part of delegation.
It only goes to show that creating these systems and processes should be delegated to your designated team members as well.
As your team members get more proficient in carrying out their tasks, eventually they start to have their own processes. These processes should be documented so that if they’re ill or take a leave, someone else on the team can pick that up because they just need to look at the processes and follow the steps.
This is exactly what we’re doing for our team, and if there is someone new that comes on board, then that new team member simply has to follow the steps written down by a current team member.
The creation of these documentations naturally has to be delegated because I myself do not know the ins and outs of the tasks that have been delegated. That’s why whenever I have a new team member onboard carrying out a completely new task, I eventually have that person create a step-by-step flow of how he/she does the work.
Documentation is so important in fact, that I have a separate folder in our Google Drive that holds all of the processes that we have put into place.
FOCUSING ON THE WHO
We’ve pretty covered the foundations of delegation, but before you go and start applying this to your business, you need to understand that proper delegation is a two-way street.
Through my own personal experiences, I realised that in order for me to properly delegate all of the tasks above, I need people who are self-starters.
This means that my approach when it comes to hiring people is to take a WHO FIRST approach. And what I mean by that is I like to find people who I personally think I would work well with. I try to find people who are persistent, pay attention to detail and people who are also problem solvers like myself.
Making sure that you work well with your team members and vice-versa is paramount to making sure that you can trust your team and that you can delegate the tasks with relative peace of mind that the delegated task will be completed to a high standard.
To read more about finding the right virtual team members for your business, check out the full guide HERE.
So when you feel ready, go out there, find the right individuals, trust in yourself, and start delegating!