Learn to Delegate Business-Critical Tasks

Katie Fleming

Katie Fleming

Co-founder and COO of Owner Actions

A woman is struggling to juggle tasks because she needs to delegate her work.

Many small business owners find it hard to delegate tasks, not only because their business is a product of their blood, sweat, and tears but also because they’re used to wearing all the hats that are required to make it a success.

In most owners’ journeys, there comes a time when tasks must be delegated to allow them to focus on strategic work—and, simply, to help the business run smoothly in their absence. 

When you start delegating work, you can realize the same benefits—and many others.


A manager will delegate tasks in her inbox to reduce her stress levels.


Delegation can reduce your daily stress levels.
A man is working happily with his team.


It can boost your employees’ competencies and the value they can create for your business.
A female manager is ready to delegate a task to her employee.


It’s a great way to garner the trust, respect, and loyalty of your employees.
A team of workers is ready to take on new tasks.


It can foster your employees’ engagement and desire to contribute to your business.
A man sitting at a desk is considering which tasks to delegate.


It can help you prepare for succession and determine who may be able to carry on your business after you retire (or when you plan to sell the business).

How can you start this difficult-to-start task? Read on.


What should I delegate?

Almost every task can be delegated, but you may want to retain the work that requires your unique skills, experience, and competencies. Instead, ask for help on tasks that one or more of your employees is equipped to perform, even if they need some oversight to do so.

The best tasks to delegate are those that need to be performed regularly. Your employees can pick up these tasks quickly, gaining mastery through repetition. And by delegating these tasks, you can free up measurable amounts of time to work on higher-level tasks.

Tasks in this category may include:

  • Running reports
  • Ordering supplies
  • Performing quality checks


Task complexity should also weigh into your decision of which tasks to delegate. Many leaders start by handing off relatively simple tasks, but you can also delegate tasks that can be mastered with some degree of training or oversight. These tasks may include:


Of course, neither list isn’t all-inclusive. The key is to find and delegate tasks that will free up your bandwidth and allow your employees to contribute to your business in meaningful ways.


How can I set my employees—and myself—up for success?

.Here are ten tips that can help you and your team succeed through delegation:

1.Offer your employees tasks that align with their strengths, complement their skills, and help them work toward their professional goals.
2.Give clear, specific instructions that will help your employees perform at their best—and minimize your odds of redoing the task later.
3.Set clear expectations. Explain the outcomes you’d like to see, the timeline by which the work should be completed, and how the work should be prioritized against their other daily tasks.
4.Grant them the decision-making authority they need to accomplish the task without asking for permission at each step.
5.Believe in their ability to accomplish the task.
6.Check in when needed, and make it clear that you are available for questions.
7.Try to avoid micromanaging.
8.Recognize that mistakes will happen. Use them as a teachable moment to share what went wrong and the approaches they might use to find better outcomes next time.
9.Show gratitude toward your employees for taking on additional work and committing to doing it well.
10.Teach them the importance of delegation so they’ll use it to thrive in their current—and future—roles.


What’s next?

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