The Art of Delegation

How to Delegate

"With great power comes great responsibility." This phrase doesn't just apply to web-wielding superheroes in blue and red tights, but to your business as well. Once you've mastered the tasks needed to run your store and your plate is looking a little full, it might be time to pass some of these items on to someone else.

Why Delegate?

There are two main reasons why it's necessary to delegate. The first reason is efficiency. Delegating allows work to be transferred to someone who is a better match for the task at hand. Let's say you've been the one designing and assembling the window displays for your store even though your strong suit is managing money.

A fellow employee has expressed an interest in taking over this task due to previous experience in another retail store. It makes sense to pass on the whole window display designing process to the person who has the most experience and passion for the job. Plus, by removing this job from your to-do list, you will free yourself up to concentrate on what you're best at.

The next reason is development. Delegation gives your team a better chance to contribute, build skills, and increase abilities. When you coach someone and help them grow professionally, you're essentially giving them the power to do something they didn't know how to do before. It lets others become experts and empowers them to take a personal interest in your business as a whole.

What Should You Delegate?

How do you know what should be delegated and what should stay on your task list? Legal consulting group Altman Weil, Inc. advises approaching delegation by taking a good look at the risk and complexity of a task. Anything that is high in both areas should probably remain one of your responsibilities, while anything that is low in both areas can probably be safely handled by another employee. Anything that is high in either category can be delegated, but there might need to be some supervision involved.

What's Involved in Delegating?

These three steps are crucial in the delegation process.

Step 1. Describe Exactly What You Want

Communication and training are both major factors that can make delegating a job either a huge success or a major setback. Martin Haworth, a business and management coach and trainer based in the UK, urges those delegating to start off on the right foot by "describing exactly what you expect the person to do, specifying when the job is to be completed, and of course, communicating what kind of end results are necessary on completion." A lot of this can be accomplished by taking the time to properly train employees on all tasks you plan to delegate.

He goes on to explain that context is key since the person receiving these instructions might be wondering why this work needs to be done and how it fits into the bigger picture of your workplace. You might also want to mention any complications that could arise and how you want this person to deal with them if needed. If both parties understand and agree on what exactly is expected, errors are less likely to happen. In return, delegation is then more likely to serve as a stepping stone to higher levels of success for your store.

Step 2. Give Them Some Power and Step Back

You've trained the employee to do this job and expectations are clear. What's next? It's time to let go a little. Granting some authority when delegating is an important step at this stage. Not only does it show you trust this employee, it also shows you're confident in their decision-making ability and believe he or she will do an exemplary job.

Step 3. Monitor Progress Through Feedback

Setting up a system of updates where you'll be able to check in on how the delegated task is going will alleviate concerns throughout the project. Feedback, especially words of positive reinforcement, is good for both you and the employee you delegated work to. Not only does it help fix any issues and improve the entire process, it also is essential in building stronger work relationships.

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