By Lea Schneider
If it occasionally feels as if you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, it might be because you really do. Small business owners wear a dozen hats: the buyer, the marketer, the logistics expert, the financial manager and the salesman, just to name a few.
As a small business owner, I know I’ve been thwarted by what I call the “It’s Easier to Just Do It Myself” syndrome. By the time I explain to someone why I need something done, when I need it, what exactly they need to do and where they are going to find all the things they need for the task, I’m exhausted.
Often, the culprit isn’t too much to do or employees unable to do the delegated tasks. Instead, it is confused storage and disorganization that make it difficult to direct employees to go and do a task. In order to make delegation work, there are six organizational keys every business owner and manager needs to know:
1. Define Tasks.
Take a step back from the feeling you have too much to do and no time to delegate. You simply must move things from your to-do list onto someone else’s. Begin by making a list of the things you would be comfortable allowing an employee to do. Don’t dwell on if they know how to do it or if it will take too long to show them—the next steps will help with that. Instead, focus on the idea that you can empower them to remove that item from your list.
2. Create Useable Storage.
I clearly remember a boss sending me to a warehouse-sized room to get something. Of course, I could not find it because nothing was labeled. I was frustrated and she was frustrated. In order for delegation to work, your employees have to be able to find the things they need. When you set up a system only you can use, then only you can find things. You need to set up a system that anyone can use, so everyone can find things.
Rework storage areas for ease of use. A stack of boxes isn’t manageable, as it has to be stacked and unstacked to access the goods. Make sure you use shelves or cubbies so one box can be removed at a time. Label shelves and containers so employees can easily find what they’re looking for and return it back to its proper spot when finished.
3. Find Space.
More people working at a small business can make it feel crowded. Find space for everyone to work and neatly store materials by going vertical. Add industrial shelving to safely hold goods. Use wall space to add hooks and pegboards for tools, and make sure there is adequate work surface available. Rolling tables are a good option, as they can be moved as needs change.
4. Prepare for Products.
If you have a product-based business, you’ll never stop having new products arrive or new samples come in. Plan for incoming products with an unpacking area. Set up work surfaces to use for assembling and for opening boxes. Add rolling bins to handle package materials so they can be moved easily to the dumpster or recycling containers, and provide rolling carts for moving the unpacked merchandise efficiently.
5. Organize in Order of Task.
As you set up work stations for tasks like wrapping things for shipping or unloading boxes of retail goods, be sure to organize the work area in order of the task at hand. Maximize productivity by keeping the necessary tools within easy reach. Think from start to finish, so there is a place to set incoming and outgoing tasks.
6. Create a Procedure List.
When you are preparing to do some delegation, it is a great idea to create a procedure list for that job. After all, you are about to verbally tell someone all of those steps. Why not put it in writing? You will still need to go over it with them, but it’s much more beneficial for them to have a written list of steps to refer to the next time they do the same task. Taking the time to create a procedure list once can save you time in the long run when you need to show more than one person how to do something.
A bonus to using these keys for making delegation work is they will help you as well. You’ll find if you organize work and storage areas, you’ll also be more productive and less frustrated as you tackle that to-do list.
Lea Schneider is a professional organizational expert with many years of experience operating a small business of her own. Lea writes on storage efficiencies in businesses for The Home Depot. For more storage solution ideas, including those mentioned by Lea, you can visit Home Depot’s website here.