Delegation Tips for the Recovering Control Freak

scope creep: what it is and how to stop it taking over your life for ybkbs small business magazine leicester

It’s like watching a frisbee getting bigger and bigger and then wondering why it’s hit you in the face…

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By Jess Dixon

Hi, I’m Jess and I’m a control freak.

For better or worse, I tend to fall into the “if you want it doing right, do it yourself” trap. This means I find it really hard to delegate, outsource, and all those other things we know we should be doing to take our businesses to the next level.

I think a lot of freelancers, self-employed people, and small business owners are control freaks. Our business is our baby, so we end up trying to do everything ourselves. Perhaps we don’t fully trust someone else with it, or perhaps we’re stuck in a cycle of feeling like we’ve got something to prove.

Want to learn to let go, stop worrying, and delegate more efficiently? Read on to learn how.

Get rid of the tasks you don’t like first

We all have tasks or aspects of running our business that we hate doing. Start by delegating those tasks. Since you don’t like doing them, you’ll be more motivated to let go and hand them over to someone else.

Hate doing your accounting? Make that the first thing you outsource. Social media driving you crazy? Delegate it!

Hire people you completely trust

It’s understandable that you’re reluctant to trust anyone else with your business baby. So do your research before you start outsourcing, and make sure you find someone that you completely trust. Meet them (face to face or by video call) if possible. Read their reviews and testimonials. See if you can talk to a former client or two.

Personal recommendations are a great way to hire someone trustworthy. Ask your friends and people in your network to refer you to people they’ve worked with. That virtual assistant your friend is raving about is probably a better bet than a random person from Upwork!

Provide clear and specific guidance

So you’ve chosen a task or two to delegate and picked the right person for the job. The best way to get what you want is to provide clear, specific instructions. Ideally, they should be in writing. If it’s a one off project, agree the brief by email in advance, giving as much detail as you can. If you’re going to be working together on an ongoing basis, pull together a “cheat sheet” document with all the main instructions the person is likely to need. Leave nothing out – if it seems important, it probably is. By being detailed at this stage, you’ll save yourself time later.

Like your emails filed in a specific way? Tell your new VA before they start! Need your copy to fall within specific editorial guidelines? Tell your copywriter before they get to work. (Please!) And so on.

Make yourself available, but don’t micromanage

There is little more stressful than working for a micromanager. Don’t be that person! Make yourself available if someone who is doing work for you has any questions, but don’t try to micromanage or insist they run every little thing past you before they proceed.

You hired them to do a job, so let them do that job! By providing guidance but stepping back, you empower people to do their best work without over-relying on you (which defeats the purpose of delegating).

Check in regularly

If you’re working with someone over a period of time, it makes sense to check in at regular intervals. Whether you check in at certain milestones, once a week, or just once a month, will depend on what makes sense for you and the project.

Don’t use check-ins as a sneaky way to micromanage, though! Once a day is too much, even if the person is working for you full time.

Give clear feedback

If someone who is working for you does something in a way that isn’t quite right, let them know. They want to do a good job for you! Don’t keep quiet and then fix their work later – that does both of you a disservice. Instead, give clear and detailed feedback on their work.

If you want something doing differently, say so. Equally, if they’re doing well and everything is great, tell them that too!

Plan for the worst case scenario (realistically)

Ask yourself: if this delegation attempt goes horribly wrong, what’s the worst that could happen and how would I fix it?

This is both an exercise in facing your fears, and a sensible planning precaution. By working out what could realistically go wrong, you’re likely to see that delegating isn’t quite as scary as it seems. And by having a plan for the worst case scenario, you remove much of the power those fears have.

The likelihood of that worst case scenario coming true is pretty remote. So if you’ve planned for that, anything else that comes your way will be a breeze.

Learning to let go as a control freak

Here’s the hardest lesson for the control freak to learn: you actually can’t control everything.

What’s more, trying will make you miserable, burned out, and stressed. Learning to let go and stop trying to control everything at all times is the best gift you can give yourself. It will have a positive impact on your mental health and your business.

So take a deep breath, learn to let go, and delegate.

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