Delegating work and responsibility to others is one of the most difficult things about growing and managing a business. Most business owners don't like to cede control to others. After all, being in control of your own destiny was one of the reasons you went into business for yourself.

It may be tough to learn to delegate to your employees, but if you are going to grow your company, if you are going to take control of your life, if you are going to create an energized, enthusiastic team of employees, you must become a great delegator. There are many advantages to delegating effectively.

For you, it means more time to address other important strategic issues within the company such as budgeting, financial forecasting, long-range planning, human resource issues, marketing — or simply to take a much needed vacation.

Because the responsibility is spread around, delegating decreases the risk you have of relying too much on any one person — you.

By allowing others to take on tasks in which they are interested, and maybe even feel passionate about, you might find that your employees can do those tasks even better than you can.

While you're realizing these wonderful benefits, your employees are too. They grow in abilities and gain confidence. And the more confident you and your employees feel about their abilities, the more you can delegate. This adds to the employees' value within the company, in turn allowing you to reward them with a more valuable compensation package.

Morale rises as employees become increasingly skilled and involved in running the company. The better the morale, the less likely employees are to leave your company for reasons as simple as a higher hourly wage. In other words, effective delegation increases employee retention.

Your pool for ideas becomes larger as everyone begins to think of ways to do tasks more efficiently.

So, while we all understand and believe in the benefits, why is delegating so difficult to do? In most cases, it comes down to trust — trust that your employees will be able to perform well. The issue of trust becomes even more important when your reputation or your personal income is closely linked to the results.

But you can delegate without risking too much. You can control the limits until you feel totally comfortable that your employees can handle more complex tasks. By starting slowly and making the right preparations, you'll soon be a master at delegating to a team that is enthusiastically participating in the success of the organization.

Like most management skills, delegation can be learned. It will take weeks or months of practice, but it can be done. During the next few months, I'll use this column to discuss techniques on how to delegate effectively and make it work. — Victoria Downing is president of Remodelers Advantage, Laurel, Md., 301.490.5620.