Sharing the load: How to delegate effectively
By Claire SykesFeatures Business and Operations Staffing
Delegate your way to success
When you’re the only one on the ship, you have little choice but to take the helm in your own hands. But even with just one employee on board at your pizzeria, there will be times when you’ll need to rely on that person to help you keep powering your business forward.
It’s called delegating. And successful pizzeria owners do it well.
You’re effective at delegating when you give the right task to the person best suited to handle it. You also give him or her the proper resources – and authority – to do the job as well as possible. But delegating doesn’t stop there. Tell your employee what you expect from his or her performance, and then monitor that, followed by constructive feedback and motivating rewards.
AVOID AVOIDING IT
Anyone who runs a pizzeria knows you can’t do it all, yourself. And there’s always more to do. In general, more and more is required of you and your business as you face increasing competition – from other pizzerias, restaurants and grocery-store delis. Everything from planning next week’s employee work schedule to setting next year’s sales goals takes some kind of action. And as your pizzeria grows, so does your workload. How can you possibly fit everything in? Delegate!
But wait. Maybe you think you don’t need to delegate. You’ve been fine all along handling everything yourself, right? You can do it! Well, you think you can. This assumption keeps many business owners from assigning tasks to their employees – even if it means overloading themselves with work that their employees are more than capable of doing.
A GOOD THING
Get over it! To break through your resistance, it helps to know the benefits of delegating:
- You liberate yourself. Delegating well is vital in order to maintain control of your pizzeria, and operate it effectively and professionally. When you delegate, you let go of the control you think you need to hang onto. You not only can get more done, but also you get the right things done. Too easily, business owners put off major, more complex projects because they’re too busy with the smaller tasks of keeping a business going. Smart pizzeria owners write up that to-do list and prioritize it, and then they take action by – you guessed it! – delegating. Why not let someone else file those invoices or make those vendor follow-up calls, so you can spend time attending to what’s most important for your pizzeria?
- You add value to your staff. When you reward staff with greater responsibilities, they’re more enthusiastic about working at your pizzeria. People also like to know they can be counted on, and trusted. Put your faith in them – and show it by delegating – and they’ll feel more involved in your business. The more they actively participate in your pizza operation, the more they are prepared to take on those delegated tasks that further improve their skills. They also enjoy the greater variety in their workloads that comes with doing those tasks. And if you’re manager of your pizzeria, you prove to higher-ups that you can lead staff to accomplish even more than they already do.
- You improve your business. You motivate that employee when you reward him or her with greater responsibilities. With those comes the chance for them to enhance their experience working at your pizzeria, which only benefits your business. Who would want to work anywhere else? Valuable staff who stick around help contribute to your business’s long-term success. When you delegate to someone tasks that stretch his or her capabilities and boundaries, you help prepare this employee for the next level of employment at your business. So, hand over some of those budget-related details to your math-savvy sales clerk, and in six months he or she could be your bookkeeper.
GET BUSY AND DELEGATE
No doubt, there are many advantages for you and your staff when you delegate effectively. Now, let’s look at just how you can do that:
- Know what you can and can’t delegate. Being sure with yourself about which duties you can dole out to someone on staff is the first step to getting those tasks done. Of course, there always will be certain tasks that only you can – and should – do, such as those related to strategic planning, personnel, finances or legal issues, among others. You can, however, delegate clerical duties, minor decisions, scheduling tasks, things employees are expected to do when you’re not in your pizzeria, and anything that develops someone’s skills to prepare the person for a promotion.
- Know the task. Think the job through. Know the specific results you want. It’s not enough to ask that employee, for example, “Can you please follow up with customers and collect feedback about how much they enjoyed their pizza?” You also need to know: How many customers should your employee call or email? What questions should he or she ask? How would you like him or her to document the answers? When you consider all facets of the task, and what you want from it, you can convey it all to the employee without confusion.
- Choose the right person for the job. Don’t hand out tasks randomly to just anyone. Consider the overall skill sets of each of your employees, as well as their degrees of confidence, motivation and availability, before you assign the task. You want the person best suited for the project. For instance, think about whether you need someone who’s creative or who works quickly, or both, then select the appropriate employee. You don’t want to deal with hurt feelings and mix-ups if you have to reassign the task.
- Explain the task, clearly, whether the job at hand is to prep ingredients or decorate a holiday-window display. The employee can’t read your mind, so make yourself clear. Imagine how the person might need to understand the task. Is there a certain sequence to it? Are there other people your employee might need to consult with? Is there any research the person needs to do to prepare for the task? Any new skill to learn? Write out everything you need done, so there’s no miscommunication.
- Provide the right resources. Make sure you give that employee what he or she needs to do the job. You wouldn’t hand someone a filthy rag and expect the person to wipe that countertop shiny-clean. So also make sure you also give him or her whatever it takes to do the job well. This includes letting your employee know whom they can turn to for assistance, or where and how they can find the resources to figure it out on their own.
- Give the person authority to carry out the job. As owner or manager of your pizzeria, you are ultimately responsible for how your business looks and how efficiently it runs, to assure its success and that customers keep coming back. To help you reach your goals, be sure the employee understands exactly what he or she has the permission and leeway to do, and is accountable for.
- Monitor progress of the task. Before the task’s designated deadline, check in with your employee to make sure things are going smoothly – but don’t hover or micromanage. These check-ins are simply opportunities to iron out any confusion or make needed changes. It’s important to encourage open communication with your staff, so they feel free to come to you with questions or concerns.
- Evaluate the employee’s performance. After he or she has completed the task, sit down with the person and talk about it. In what ways was she successful? Where does he need to improve? Praise the person for a job well done, or at least for trying their best. Offer constructive criticism and encouragement. And ask for feedback. What did he learn? What did she find most challenging? Meanwhile, accept that your employee may do the task differently than you would, but just as well – or hey, even better.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
Piloting your business gets easier when you keep in mind that other people are indeed capable of performing many of the things you may think you should do all by yourself. Why weigh yourself down when you can free yourself up? Turn over any jobs that you yourself don’t need to take on, and see how much more productive both you and your staff can be.
Delegating is most efficient when it becomes a routine part of your job in managing and operating your pizzeria. And when you delegate tasks to all your staff, you help build teamwork. That’s because everyone is working together toward bettering themselves and your business.
- Do you believe you, yourself, can tackle most jobs better than anyone else?
- Do you have difficulty trusting your staff to take on the task?
- Do you think it will take longer to explain how to do the job at hand than it would to just do it yourself?
- Do you have difficulty getting along with those employees whom you would delegate work to?
- Do you fail to organize tasks well enough to pass them on to others?
- Did you have a negative experience with delegating in the past?
- Do you fear you’ll be outshone by the person to whom you would delegate the work?
- Do you fear the delegated task won’t be accomplished correctly, completely or on time, reflecting poorly on you?
- Do you believe your staff is so overworked that only you can take on the task?
- Do you believe that no one else would know how to do the job?
If you answered yes to even one of these questions, then you have at least some difficulty delegating.
Claire Sykes is a freelance writer in Portland, Ore. Her how-to business-management articles appear in dozens of retail trade publications from Canada and the U.S. She also covers other areas of business, along with health and bioscience, philanthropy and the arts. Visit sykeswrites.com.
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