Nobody starts a business intending to work 9-to-5 or otherwise remain chained to corporate structures. To do so defeats the point. It would be like going to a restaurant and doing all the cooking yourself. Unfortunately, unless you do some serious thinking about how to be a better leader, 9-to-5—or more like 9-to-9—is going to be exactly what you get. This is why the perennial advice for entrepreneurs is: learn to delegate.
Easy, right? Not really. Sure, bosses by design are good at bossing, but delegation is a far more delicate task. Outstanding communication, clear-thinking, and impeccable foresight are all required to successfully pass essential tasks onto your team, and yet if you don’t master this skill, your entrepreneurial dreams will never be more than a glittery prison of ideas.
How to Delegate Work to Employees (and Keep Your Business Afloat)
1. Identify What Can be Delegated
Lawyers love to claim that they would delegate more work if only the tasks weren’t so important. Put bluntly, this is baloney. It’s 75% hangover from the toxic cult of overwork so rampant in the legal world, and 25% ego. If you’re good enough at your job, you can delegate ¾ of the work that comes across your desk. Here’s how:
• Organize tasks into four categories
I. Low Complexity & Low Importance
II. Low Complexity & High Importance
III. High Complexity & Low Importance
IV. High Complexity & High Importance
• Delegate category I immediately.
• Design a guide that allows you to confidently delegate category II.
• Divide category III into manageable parts, draft training materials, and delegate.
• Break tasks belonging to category IV into sub-tasks that belong to categories I to III. Only keep those tasks that truly qualify as high complexity and high importance for yourself.
2. Determine the Best Person for the Job
Effective delegation means not only understanding team capabilities, but their motivations, too. The right person for a given task is a person both qualified and excited by the work at hand. This means appreciating individual team member’s skills and understanding their ambitions. Every group will include those who aggressively pursue professional growth, those that thrive on recognition, those that gain satisfaction from accomplishing simple tasks, and, unfortunately, those that are just there for the paycheck. Even just one of the latter means you might want to visit our Team Empowerment Academy (or rethink your hiring practices). The former three should be assigned tasks based on availability, appropriate billing rate, and as a function of what will increase job satisfaction.
3. Provide Support
Successful delegation reflects your ability to provide resources and support as much as it reflects your team’s skill. When you pass a task on to an employee, you need to do so alongside clear deliverables and with the tools needed for successful completion. In addition, it’s on you to communicate needed context as well as expectations concerning progress reports, results format, and deadline.
All too often, attorneys who run small firms ask how to improve their business, without realizing that the real question is how to be a better leader. While the perennial advice to entrepreneurs may be, “learn to delegate,” just as important is learning to inspire.
Let’s be honest, y’all have been telling me for the past 25 years, “Business would be great but for the employee management and leadership.” Well, no time like the present to create leaders leading leaders in your firm, before we turn yet another calendar year, in roughly 100 days (yep, I said it). You say you are craving someone to step up and lead, so you can DELEGATE and step away from day-to-day tasks. Book a call with me to discern if you have the right person on the bus to join our 66-Day Law Firm Turnaround Program. Can you hear me in the back? There are only 15 weeks remaining in the year to complete this revolutionary 12-week program.