Are you a weightlifter? No, not someone who pumps iron, but an event manager who takes the entire weight of the event on their shoulders?
According to new research, a large majority of British business owners do not like to delegate. These so-called “weightlifters” are the ones who check their email constantly, frequently work through the weekend and suffer strained relationships with loved ones because of their long working hours.
The study by Opus Energy, which surveyed 250 small and medium-sized enterprise owners, found that those at the helm of small businesses often find it difficult to let go of certain responsibilities, even to pass them to a trusted colleague.
Many barely take a break during the day, with only 15% stepping outside for a walk and just 12% pausing to chat socially with colleagues.
This type of management is not only potentially damaging to your health, it could be doing your events more harm than good.
However, it’s easy to understand why so many event managers – much like business owners – find themselves in this position. Small business founders, and those leading fast-growing events, have often had no prior experience of managing others and this is one of the biggest reasons people don’t make the transition from great doer to great leader. Learning to delegate properly is a skill, and it’s a huge part of successful leadership.
Ready to relinquish some control and delegate your way to even greater success? Here are 8 tips to help you share the load, making your life less stressful and your events (and business) more successful.
- Work out which tasks can only be done by you
Some tasks really are best done by you (such as making critical strategic decisions), but many don’t require input from the top. You should have members of your team capable of managing tasks such as updating the event blog, managing supplier relationships, chasing up invoices, or whatever it may be.
Every time you embark on a task, ask yourself, “Do I really need to do this myself?” You should be using your time on the most important tasks for your events. Remember you need to time to ‘work on your business, not just in your business‘; and this goes for event managers too!
- Assess the skillset in your team
You might think you know the strengths and weaknesses of your employees, but by carrying out a period of conscious observation you can gain a much better understanding of their skills.
Who has great negotiation skills? Who is the most organised? Who has tonnes of creativity? Once you know who is best suited to different tasks, you will be able to delegate more confidently. In turn, your employees will be delighted to have their strengths recognised and utilised.
- Delegate, don’t dump
When delegating, be sure to explain why you have chosen the individual for the task. If you highlight the skills you are seeking to tap into, along with the ways the task will benefit them, you can make it a win-win situation for you both.
If your employee views the delegated task as an opportunity to grown and learn (and win credit from their boss) as opposed to an obligation to do more work, they will be far more motivated to take on the responsibility.
- Give clear instructions
Your employees are not mind readers. It’s imperative you are clear about what you want them to do in order for them to have the best chance of meeting your expectations.
It’s true; many of us think it easier to complete a task ourselves rather than taking the time to explain it to someone who has never done it before. However, you should view the time and effort this requires as an investment for the future.
You are up-skilling your team and empowering employees to take on responsibility for key tasks, meaning you won’t always have to look over their shoulders.
- Don’t micromanage
Once you have delegated a task, leave your colleague to get on with it. I know of a manager who insisted on being copied in on every email an employee sent. Not only does this actually create a load of extra work and defeat the object, it also completely undermines the member of staff.
If you’re constantly interfering or making checks it implies that you do not trust the nominated individual. Demonstrating trust is absolutely vital to successful delegation.
- Set deadlines
While you don’t want to micromanage, you will want to monitor your colleague’s progress. For a bigger project, you can establish milestones enabling you to periodically check in and ensure they’re on the right course.
For smaller tasks, make sure you set a deadline for completion, taking into consideration their existing workload. You don’t want to pile on the pressure, but equally you don’t want your task to get buried.
- Recognise accomplishments
If your teammate has done a good job with a task you delegated, always make the time to properly thank them. Credit should be given officially, in an email, and publicly, for example in front of colleagues at the weekly meeting.
Recognising staff in this way will provide real satisfaction and mean they won’t mind taking on jobs that increase their workload. It can also form the basis of an employee’s professional development, providing milestones for their quarterly performance reviews.
- Seek feedback
It’s not just your employees’ progress that should be monitored; it’s important to keep tabs on your own development as a leader. Ask your team what they think about the way you’re delegating. Are you delegating the right tasks to the right people? Are you providing good enough instructions? Are you giving people a sufficiently free reign to carry out the tasks?
Seeking feedback is vital to ensure everyone is happy with the situation and allows you to hone your delegation skills.
Delegation isn’t always easy, especially for those who have grown their events, and their business, from a one-person entity and are used to doing everything themselves.
It is a learning curve and at times delegation may actually create more work, however it gets easier. In time you’ll know exactly the right people to take on specific responsibilities, you’ll be free to concentrate on the important stuff and your team will truly start to fulfil its potential.