Delegation. A simple concept that is extremely difficult for some, especially for a business owner of a growing tree care company. Perhaps the definition of the word can help those out? Merriam-Webster defines delegation as; the act of empowering to act for another. True leaders do not merely pass off work that they do not want to. They inspire and empower their team to perform tasks that help achieve the overall mission of the organization. Below are my five tips to successful delegation.
Understand Your Value to Your Team – As the owner, you obviously have the ultimate responsibility to make sure the business stays afloat and remains profitable. Unfortunately, many times the pressure to keep the doors open makes you think you should be doing everything for the company because no one knows your business quite like you do. Naturally you push yourself into tasks that you are not qualified or passionate about and it has a ripple effect on your organization. The best leaders understand what their value is to the team. Where is your time best spent for the greatest benefit to the entire organization? Take account of your skills and passions. Pay attention to what really gets you excited and remind yourself why you wanted to be an owner. Are you great with numbers and setting goals or is the physical work more to your liking? What value do you add to the organization above and beyond others? I have seen many successful tree care companies where the owner is still in production because his or her passion lies in proper tree care versus the paperwork and management side of things. Define your role for your team so that you can delegate the rest of the tasks.
Utilize Your Team Member’s Strengths – Effective delegation occurs when duties are shifted to the appropriate team member. Build your team with people that have the strengths that you need in your organization. Confirm those strengths with each individual so you know that they are on the same page with you. There are plenty of production arborists who are natural sales people. If sales is an area of weakness for you, explore transferring that role to them instead of struggling along just because you are the owner. There will be some training necessary when delegating any task or responsibility so be open and willing to commit to teaching those skills and knowledge to your team.
Begin With the Why – Everyone wants to know what’s in it for them. If you are delegating more work to your team, give them the reasons why early and often. If your team members feel they are having work dumped on them without knowing why the morale of your team will suffer dramatically.
Inspire Your Team – When people understand why they have been assigned a new task they can accept that extra obligation. However, to truly be a top level delegator, you must inspire your team at the same time. Every one of your team members will find inspiration a little differently. Think about why the goals of the organization would be meaningful to every individual. What do they get excited about? Why did they join your company? Parlay that knowledge of your team members to motivate them not only to accept the task being delegated, but to get them to reach out for more responsibility.
Trust Your Team and They Will Trust You – This should go without saying, but when you delegate a task it is imperative that you trust your team to accomplish it. Checking in on the progress of the task, especially if it is new to them, is good to do, however, avoid the most common mistake with delegation; micro-managing. No one wants an assignment handed to them only to be told exactly how to do it. Learning to trust that your team will get the work done can be challenging for some owners. There will most likely be some small mistakes and the outcome of the task may not look exactly like it would have if you did it, however, if you stomp your feet and get upset you can guarantee that you will lose the trust of your employees. Once that is gone, it will take a long time to get it back.
Delegation is such a critical part of running a successful business and fortunately it is a skill that can be learned and developed. Use these five tips to begin to consciously think about delegation within your organization and how you can improve on it.
Written by: Eric Petersen