An exerpt of the Coaching for Success ezine – February 5, 2005 issue
by Kerri Salls
One of the changes I decided to make this year to work smarter and not harder on my business was to find a Virtual Assistant who could do some of the office work for me. In my search, I found that I had some homework to do before I could even ask someone to help, never mind find that perfect fit.
I had to identify characteristics of my ideal Virtual Assistant – known in the trade as a VA. That includes someone who has a self-sufficient office, their own computer and basic software and a fast internet connection. It has to be someone very resourceful, independent, a good time-manager with the integrity to bill me for the time on task but not for coffee breaks and interruptions. The list goes on.
I then had to identify the tasks that soak up my time that don’t make me money but really do have to get done and yet don’t have to be done by me. This was an education. And it’s been fun building the list an item or two at a time.
I still have to determine how many hours a week to contract with a VA (their rates are cheaper if you guarantee them a certain number of hours fixed). And I have to find my ideal VA in my price range. I’ll keep you informed as this project unfolds. The freedom it promises portents well for a great year.
Delegating and Control – Do you want to Lead or Manage?
Along the way of hiring my first VA, I am relearning some keys to effective delegating. As General George S. Patton said: ‘Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.’
To build a business or to lead a bigger business (not just manage it) leaders must delegate. Lack of delegating effectively can be like shooting yourself in the foot. I know it can feel like you are losing control – which is a struggle for business owners and managers because their identity is so wrapped up in the business itself.
To keep it simple, just follow these four keys to delegate successfully and effectively:
- Give the job to someone who can get it done
So you can give it to someone who has or can get the knowledge, tools, skills, resources to get the job done. This can include teaching them so they do things your way step by step. It is important that the job be doable for that person and not just dumping on the first warm body who walks by.
- Communicate your definition of satisfaction
Have a clear picture of what result you want and communicate that clearly. Identify resources, criteria, parameters, deadlines, format etc. to be used or applied. Be specific enough so that you can let good enough really be good enough when it is completed.
- Make a plan
This is not the same as micro-managing tasks. If it is simple, the plan may simply be assigning it to the right person. If the task is bigger, it may require a breakdown of steps. If your VA or staff can make the list as step 1 and can flag the steps where your assistance, direction, or more help is needed, you will have the opportunity to confirm the task is done to your satisfaction and resolve bottlenecks even before they arise.
- Establish a system for feedback
Delegating is not just assigning a task up front, rather it requires a conscious system for feedback, updates, advice, progress reports. This may be in the form of an email or phone call when each step is completed, or just the result delivered on time. For bigger tasks/projects you may want regular updates as it unfolds so you can make interim decisions without holding up the project.
Remember, delegating is not abdicating. In delegating, you are still responsible and accountable for the results – they reflect on you, and your business; and will impact your goals, profits, and time available for other tasks.
Kerri Salls, MBA is a business coach who has owned 4 successful small businesses over the last 17 years and has helped scores of independent business owners and corporate leaders create more profits in less time with 10 key breakthrough strategies. ‘To Your Success’ is an opt-in ezine. To subscribe, send a blank email to [email protected] with subscribe in the Subject line.