Use Automated Workflows for More Effective Delegation

Woman eating a sandwich while writing and typing on a computer.

Learning to delegate can be a challenge for the start-up entrepreneur or the first-time manager.

Have you ever started a business? If so, you probably know what it’s like to assume all the job titles, from CEO to mail clerk. Starting a business by definition requires flexibility, because you have to learn how to make it all work, and it takes time.

The problem comes when the entrepreneur starts hiring people, yet has trouble letting go of some of the many tasks they’ve assumed for themselves from the beginning. Delegation isn’t easy, for a lot of reasons. But it’s a skill that benefits both the leader and the business long term. One way to learn delegation is to use automated workflows as a tool. Here’s how.

Breaking Down Processes into Individual Steps Makes Sense for Many Reasons

Sure, knowing how to take, process, and ship an order from start to finish is good for a manager or leader. Higher-ups should know exactly what’s involved in important work processes. But there’s a limit to how much one person can do, and delegation becomes necessary sooner or later.

One way to start is by breaking down key work processes into individual steps, like recording a phone order onto a particular electronic form, or receiving a web form and acting on it. Each step in the process should be called out, including things like fetching a product from the warehouse or creating shipping labels. Individual steps should be simple and clear enough that just about anyone could understand them.

Assigning Steps Is Easier Than Assigning Entire Processes

Maybe you’ll get lucky and hire someone who intuitively understands a process and knows exactly what to do. But it’s more likely that you will have to train employees, often on things that seem perfectly obvious to you. The great thing about automated workflows is that you can start by assigning specific steps rather than entire processes (or major portions of processes). For example, you could start your new employee by teaching them that when they get an alert that an order was received, they need to acknowledge receipt of the order, go to the warehouse and retrieve the product, acknowledge this by ticking a box in an electronic form, deliver the product to shipping, and then tick another box in the form.

Online forms

Delegating individual steps is often easier and more effective than delegating entire processes.

When people master individual steps, if appropriate, they can be assigned additional steps. Or, other people could be assigned other steps.

Workflows That Offer Transparency Help Everyone See the Big Picture

Although automated workflows allow people to learn individual steps, it’s also important that they understand the whole process. If they can see how the entire workflow plays out, they can see how neglecting what seems to be a minor step can cause problems to propagate through the rest of the workflow. Likewise, they can see how each of their actions works toward completion of the workflow and better business operation. If someone asks why it’s necessary to complete a certain step, it’s good to be able to explain exactly how it affects the people whose actions come later on in the workflow.

Delegation Is One of the Harder Leadership Competencies for Many

Delegation is challenging for many people. Some people don’t want to impose on others (even if it’s their job to do certain things), and others may feel like no one else can do it correctly. So, delegation requires a certain amount of “letting go.” That said, when delegation is done with forethought, it can be the key to taking operations to a higher level, and it’s a skill well worth learning and practicing.

The right workflow software can be an effective tool for delegation. With PerfectForms, you can create custom online forms, as well as automated workflows that break important processes down into discrete, actionable steps. PerfectForms also allows greater workflow transparency, so authorized users can check up on the status of a workflow at any time. Workflow users can clearly see where their tasks fall in the overall scheme of things and can be reassured that what they do matters.

If the idea of automated workflows appeals to you, PerfectForms invites you to watch our demo video. It only takes a minute, and you’ll see for yourself how automated workflows improve efficiency and productivity, while saving your business money.

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