My five step guide on how to delegate

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Image by Virgin.com
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 10 February 2020

When starting out, entrepreneurs face seemingly never-ending lists of tasks. I had to be a jack-of-all-trades at Virgin Records. I had at least 10 job titles (depending on who I was talking to) – marketing, PR, operations, business development… you name it, I did it.

Black and white image of Richard Branson serving customer in a Virgin Atlantic cabin.
Image by Virgin Atlantic

Working across so many areas is great because it enables you to learn quickly, broaden your skill set, and tackle challenges head on with confidence – but we could never have evolved from a mail-order record retailer to a global brand if I hadn’t learnt how to delegate early on.

With that in mind, I decided to write up a five-step delegation guide that I’ve followed over the years. Hopefully you find it helpful too.

Richard Branson speaks to Virgin Hotels Chicago employees on launch day
Image by Virgin Hotels

1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Reflect on the tasks that come naturally to you. What elements of the business do you find enjoyable and stress-free? What do you find demanding and time-consuming? Ask your friends, family and peers for their honest observations too. Once you’ve collected your thoughts and findings, write them down and take note of any patterns and themes.

2. Do the same for your business as a whole. Identify any areas where improvement is needed, as well as any existing challenges and missing elements that you need to attain for your business toscale. This will determine the kind of skill sets, assets, experience levels and personal attributes that your business and team is lacking.

3. Use your findings to guide recruitment and evaluate your existing team. You need to build a dynamic and diverse team if you are going to be able to delegate and succeed. Seek out characteristics in people that balance out your less effective areas. Take the time to find people who understand the business and can envision ways to improve it without losing sight of your vision.

Richard Branson and other future astronauts during their astronaut training
Image by Virgin Galactic

4. Shift the hierarchy and establish a company culture where every idea is welcome, communicationis open and collaboration is embedded in every decision. It’s important to remember that people are your greatest asset and you need to invest in them.

5. Now that you have established a loyal and trustful team with talent in the right places, you can sit back and start looking at the big picture. Nevertheless, it’s important to remain visible, approachable and connected to all of the moving parts of the business.

Richard Branson posing with Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady ship crew at the port
Image from Virgin Voyages

Delegation is a balancing act but when you get it right, that’s when growth happens. I hope these steps help you get there.