How can I feel more comfortable delegating important tasks to my employees?

Delegating tasks to others allows time for you to manage your business, and relieves the pressure of having to do everything. Effective delegation increases the productive output of the company, and allows the organization to prosper. It also helps motivate and develop leadership skills in employees, and can establish teamwork, which gives everyone in the company room to excel and helps your company meet or even exceed expectations.

Business owners sometimes face barriers to feeling comfortable with delegating tasks to employees. After all, the person at the top is ultimately responsible for the outcome. According to Carter McNamara, MBA, Ph.D, “Delegating involves working with an employee to establish goals, granting them sufficient authority and responsibility to achieve the goals and often giving them 1.) substantial freedom in deciding how the goals will be achieved, 2.) remaining available as a resource to help them achieve the goals, 3.) assessing the quality of their effort and attainment of the goals, and 4.) addressing performance issues and/or rewarding their performance.”

Here are some reasons business owners don’t delegate, and how to deal with them:

“There’s no time to delegate.”

Training employees takes time, yes, but delegating repetitive tasks and training staff to perform those tasks will pay off several times over in saved time in the future. A small investment of hours now can save days later.

“Once I train employees, they leave.”

While turnover can be an issue for any business, employees who are engaged in their work are more likely to stay with your company.

“I can do the job better than anyone else.”

With training and experience someone else will become proficient at the task, leaving you more time to do new, different, or more lucrative tasks. Often employees can add a new perspective and creativity to make doing a task more effective.

“I enjoy doing it.”

Good, but there may be even more enjoyable tasks you will be able to do when you have the time. Identify where your skills bring the greatest value to your company, and then delegate those tasks that take you away from doing what only you can do, guiding the company to be more successful.

“My people are too busy to take on more jobs.”

Look at the output and ask yourself: Are all the tasks being done in the company creating results? Often jobs are created for a specific purpose and long after that purpose has been met, the task continues to be done. Eliminate tasks that have become non-productive.

“I’m afraid of losing control.”

As the business owner, you will always have the overall responsibility for the outcome. Insist on feedback. Measure the outcomes created. Give employees the authority and resources to do the job correctly. Supply direction to ensure company success.

Start small by delegating repetitive tasks, provide the information and resources needed to complete the tasks, follow-up to ensure benchmarks are being met without meddling, ask for feedback, give employees authority to get the job done, provide training where necessary and don’t assign the task to someone you know can’t handle it. Once you’ve achieved results, look at other areas you might also be able to delegate.

Have a question about your small business? You can reach Arlene at or leave it in the comments here!

[ Down to Business is a weekly small business advice column featured in The World Newspaper, originally published online by the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network, and republished here with permission. ]

Arlene SotoArlene Soto

Arlene M. Soto is the director of the Small Business Development Center at Tillamook Bay Community College. She came to Oregon in July 2007 from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network, where she managed the Region 4 office in Cheyenne for almost 13 years.