Mastering the Art of Delegation: 3 Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Democratize Decision-Making

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Most entrepreneurs start out as solopreneurs, responsible for everything from marketing and product development to accounting. Entrepreneurs are likely to believe in themselves and can wear many hats. They are comfortable being the architect of their own success.

But, every entrepreneur eventually has to hire new employees and delegate certain aspects of their business . Entrepreneurs who have been used to being in control of their business can find it difficult to give up control.

Related: 7 Rules for Entrepreneurs to Delegate Effectively

But there’s a worse alternative: Entrepreneurs who are too caught up in the day to day business operations don’t have the time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. They can’t come up with new strategies and ideas to help them move forward. For better or worse, entrepreneurs feel capable of performing multiple functions. While confidence can be what drives someone to start their own business, it can also lead to blind spots.

Entrepreneurs, no matter which stage of growth their business is in, must be prepared to eventually delegate work to their employees and democratize decision-making. There are three main arguments for doing so:

1. Better outcomes

Delegating day-to-day tasks to those closest to the action, whether they are the most knowledgeable about the topic or have the most direct contact to customers or end-users, helps to make better decisions and creates more value. Entrepreneurs have more time to spend on strategy and other business-related matters by allowing employees to make decisions about their work streams.

However, empowering employees doesn’t mean delegating decision-making power. It’s about setting them up for success. Employees must be able to comprehend the business goals and the context in which they will be making decisions. They must also be given the right training. Entrepreneurs, in short, need to create a culture of trust — a culture based on the idea that employees will make better decisions if they understand how value is created. Every employee in the business, not only the founder, must be aligned to its key value streams.

Related: How to Delegate Better and Become a Great Leader

2. Speed

Speed is the second benefit of delegation. The fewer people involved in reviewing and approving decisions, the less “bottlenecking” occurs and the faster an organization can move. This is especially true in the service sector, where employees can be empowered to address issues directly and in real-time. In today’s economy, speed and agility are essential. The ability to quickly make decisions based on the most relevant information can lead to shorter time to market and quicker pivots. This can be the difference between a company’s success or that of a competitor.

3. Better employee engagement

Employees who feel that their leaders trust them, are allowed autonomy and have “skin” in the game tend to be more engaged. Putting the responsibility of decision-making onto individual employees and teams incentivizes them to learn, cultivate and exercise interpersonal “power skills” like empathy, communication and collaboration. It can help create a culture of accountability; as human beings, we are hardwired to want to “pull our own weight” to not let our fellow team members down. It also allows employees to decide which work is most important and which doesn’t.

As for how to delegate, entrepreneurs can borrow a practice from Agile project management: the sprint. Agile, which is rooted in software development, is a system that consists of sprints. These are short periods during which an individual or a team completes a task. Then, there’s re-view sessions that answer the question: What was the result? What were the results? Was it successful? What is still needed?

Entrepreneurs who are trying to scale their businesses should be involved in all functions at this level. They should be focused on reviewing outputs, and making sure that their employees follow the correct path.

Related: Why Your Employees Want You to Delegate

Delegating work doesn’t mean shirking responsibility. It’s about giving employees a sense that they have control over their responsibilities. This approach serves multiple business purposes — not only driving speed and better business outcomes, but also serving as a beacon to attract and retain employees. It allows entrepreneurs to work on their business, not just in their business.

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