How To Delegate and Stop The Burnout

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Business Burnout

Are you a business owner or manager who is constantly exhausted, run down, and feeling like you just scrape through each day? You’re not alone—leadership burnout is one of the biggest challenges facing small—to medium Australian enterprises.

I’ve been a Sydney business coach since 2007; unfortunately, I see it more often than not. Many reasons contribute to someone suddenly hitting the wall. However, I believe one particular culprit is a common suspect: they don’t effectively delegate. These clients are competent, hard-working, and motivated business owners in every sense, but they’re getting in their own way and not maximising the team around them.

The good news is that once recognised, it can—in most cases—be a relatively easy fix.

Of course, each workplace has nuances and particular challenges. As a bespoke business coach, I can help identify these and suggest the right changes. However, for the purposes of this more general article, let’s explore what effective delegation looks like, factors preventing it, how to delegate at work, and why it will put an end to your burnout and make you a winning leader.

What is Work Delegation?

Delegate Work

Delegating work to team members involves spreading tasks among the group. You might do this to play to particular individual strengths, better balance workloads, or both.

Another way of answering this question is to say that delegation and work allocation allow you to step out of the details and into the driver’s seat.

Benefits of Effective Delegation

Get this right, and you will reap the rewards in so many ways. I’ve seen business leaders and their teams transform once they embrace this process and get into a flow. It is nothing short of game-changing.

  • Gets your head above the parapet
    Unless you’re a comic book superhero, you cannot define and lead a business strategy if you’re bogged down in the details.
  • Enhances your leadership qualities
    This is a great opportunity to fine-tune your communication and diplomacy skill set.
  • Increases productivity
    Group sport is a great analogy to use here. If the Captain is trying to play a little bit of Rugby Union, Fullback and Scrum Half all at the same time, the scoreboard will say it all.
  • Promotes a sense of collaboration
    It’s such a cliche, but teamwork makes the dream work.
  • Plays to individual strengths
    Match the right task with the right person, and leave it to experts.
  • Potentially builds new skills among team members
    No matter how senior, everyone can develop professionally if given the chance.
  • Makes individuals feel empowered and trusted
    Now we’re talking about the magical fairy dust. When you spread this around, your team is kryptonite.

Reasons You Don’t Delegate Work to Others


Being better sometimes requires us to swallow a bitter pill. We’ve got to be frank with ourselves and identify what is broken before we can fix it, right?

Clients rarely approach me because they think they’re professionally perfect and everything is in tip-top shape. Instead, they seek my expertise because they know improvements and wins are there for the taking. They understand that many of these wins start at the top and trickle down.

So, if you see yourself in any of the points below, it’s OK! Actually, it’s better than OK, because you’re willing to adapt beliefs or behaviours to positively change your business. And that’s why you’re ultimately a great leader.

  • 1. It will just be faster if you do it
    Yes and no. In all fairness, it probably would be faster if you did that particular job. But would the overall business trajectory be as fast?
  • 2. Nobody can do it at quite the same level
    Again, this is possibly very true. But even if someone else does it at a fraction under perfection, hasn’t that saved you time, energy and stress? So is that a win in other ways, such as work-life balance and ability to look at the bigger picture?
  • 3. You won’t look like a leader, you’ll look like an imposter
    Categorically untrue. Delegating work to others does not relinquish your expertise or leadership; it positively reflects it. Doing fewer tasks at this level does not make you look less important; it makes you look like you’re leading.
  • 4. It’s interesting work! You want to do it
    OK – fair point; you deserve work satisfaction and pleasure. However, you can probably achieve them in more strategic or senior ways unavailable to your team members. So be fair and divvy out the perks as well as the works.
  • 5. You feel guilty about handing over more work to others
    This should not be an issue if that team member gets the necessary support and empowerment (see below).

How Do You Delegate Work to Your Team?

Delegating Work To Team

OK, we’ve rationalised why; now let’s explore how you would delegate tasks to your team.

  • Ask yourself these questions before you delegate work
    These questions help inform who, when and how you hand over certain tasks.
    • To whose skills is the work most aligned?
    • Does the intended person have capacity? If not, how can you make that happen?
    • Are you able to adequately and effectively brief this task to another person?
    • Is the work business-critical, and therefore, should you remain involved to a degree?
    • Does it matter if this task fails or is not realised to the degree you expect?
    • If so, is there time to re-do the work?
  • Know what work to delegate
    Assigning the right task to the right person helps maximise results, enhance professional development and give someone on the team a great sense of achievement.

    When you get that equation wrong, the task takes longer, outcomes can be compromised, and the person responsible can feel like they’ve failed.

  • Set expectations and desired outcomes
    Communication is really the silver nugget for all of humankind, not least of all the workplace.

    Be upfront and clear right from the get-go. If you have expectations, lay them on the table. Ensure you and the team members are on the same page. Give colleagues a fair and reasonable chance to not just deliver your results but smash them.

  • Offer support and guidance
    A good leader doesn’t throw someone who can’t swim in the deep end. When your team member wins, you win. It’s therefore in your best interest to give them every chance of doing so.
  • Be prepared for possible failure
    Did you get everything right whenever you were working up the ranks? None of us has a perfect scorecard; failure is often the fastest and most determined route to success. Allow people to safely fail and watch them (and the work they do for you) ultimately fly.
  • Remain in control
    Delegating does not have to mean handing over the whole dashboard.

    Stay in the mix, especially if we’re talking early days and new procedures. Delegating does not have to mean relinquishing full control – you can (and should) take this in steps so everyone is comfortable at every stage.

  • Offer feedback
    Before they even begin, clarify to your team that performance reviews will be part of the process.

    Be upfront and communicate what success looks like. Whether it is or is not delivered, provide constructive feedback that will give your team logical, tangible, reasonable ways to do things differently or better in the future.

  • Lead by example
    Don’t delegate and then go to golf. Or if you do, don’t make it obvious.

    Small to medium-sized businesses cannot look like they’re dumping everything on the employees; they must show they have skin in the game. Your team needs to see that they’ve played an invaluable part in helping you step up. So, they need to see you step up.

Let Me Help You Learn How to Delegate Work Effectively

If this article strikes a chord with you and you want to learn how to delegate work to employees, please contact me. I love working with Australian SMEs to help leaders get the best out of themselves, their team and their goals.

Leave the burnout to the corporate world. I’m all about helping you achieve the ultimate work/life balance you and your business need.


Get in touch with me for a confidential, complimentary no-obligation chat today.

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