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Letting Go...


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23 replies to this topic

#1 Jill

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 12:47 AM

So, it's your business, you run the show. How do you allow yourself to give work to others, and trust them to do it right?

In order to grow your business, you really need to do this at times, but it's sooooo hard!

Anyone have some good tips on this subject?

Jill

#2 stoli

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 07:50 AM

I agree, thats a tough one.

One person cannot do it all and in order to grow one must delegate responsibilities.

Here is my humble 2c's on the subject.

1. Inspect WHAT you EXPECT - follow through on delegations by making sure they are done correctly.

2. Keep in mind that most people do want to do a good job and added responsibility is seen as a sign of trust by the boss. Sometimes added responsibility can give an employeee a much needed morale boost!

3. By delegating work to others we might find that they bring an outsiders viewpoint and come up with a way to do it better!

Just some thoughts on making it easier! It is so hard to do!!

#3 Jill

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 08:19 AM

1. Inspect WHAT you EXPECT - follow through on delegations by making sure they are done correctly.


Yes, this is important. But what happens when you find it's taking you more time to inspect than to just have done the work yourself? That's often the reason why it's difficult to give out the work to begin with!

2. Keep in mind that most people do want to do a good job and added responsibility is seen as a sign of trust by the boss. Sometimes added responsibility can give an employeee a much needed morale boost!


Yes, another great point! I have found that this can work very well too.

And agree with number 3 too.

That said, I do have a number of people who I've surrounded myself with that I'm very comfortable giving certain work to. I have found that the most important key is trust. You've got to trust that person to do their best and get the job done. Usually they will, but you do have to leave room for mistakes, as they inevitably do happen. Finding really smart people to work with also helps.

And when you find someone who will go above and beyond the call of duty, they are definitely a keeper! Make sure to always keep them happy because they are as good as gold. :trash:

Jill

#4 stoli

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 09:02 AM

I also agree that delegation can run you in circles!

I guess you just have to think of the long term benefits of shuffling off work to others.

1. Free yourself to focus on other tasks.
2. Greater workload being accomplished with delegation
3. Training others to carry out tasks.
4. Making others responsible for actions/inactions.

In theory it sounds good, but in reality? Well thats a different world!

#5 Jill

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 09:07 AM

Sometimes I've found if you can just get over that first "hump" then things go smoothly from there. By the first hump, I mean the first few times you work with someone. They may not know exactly what it is you want from them, or they may do things a bit differently than you do.

So the first few times you work together may actually take you more time than if you just did it yourself because you're also training someone. Once you've worked together a few times, things can usually go smoother. You just have to have the faith to get past that hump! :trash:

Jill

#6 dragonlady7

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 10:12 AM

I have a lot of viewpoints on delegation of responsibility. I have been at my current job for a bit over 6 months now and I hate it. Why? Because there is no chain of command. Sometimes the operations officer is my manager and tells me what to do. Sometimes the CEO is the manager and tells me what to do (or shoves me aside, sits down at my computer, and types on my screen). Sometimes the older woman in my department is my manager and tells me what to do (or shoves me aside, sits down at my computer, and types on my screen. ARGH!). When I do something, I have to get it approved but I don't know who to give it to. I'm given material to edit by the CEO, and he wants it done quickly, but the other woman in my department flips out if I don't give it to her to proofread first, but she doesn't have time to do so, and so the CEO thinks it's taking me three days to do this simple job he's given me because I have to wait on my coworker.
It's taken me about four months to do a simple website. It's been redesigned eight times. Every time, after I've completed it, someone will decide something needs to be done differently.

The lines of communication are impossible. My senior co-worker has an incredible talent for managing not to pass crucial information on to me. And when she does tell me something, she manages somehow to simultaneously convey two conflicting impressions: 1) that this is priveleged information and I'm very lucky to be important enough to hear it, AND 2) I should already have known it.
She also rarely has the gumption to give me a direct order, so instead she'll say things like "I thought we decided to do things my way even though we never discussed it and your way has been working fine for you for three months now." And of course she gets personally offended when I respond with irritation, and has to end up giving me a direct order in the least pleasant manner possible, and so I don't know why she persists in trying to "soften" things that way. Either she's the boss of me or not, and tiptoeing around it doesn't make it less offensive. She can't even manage herself, let alone me.

So frustrating. I've never had such a bad attitude in my life.

So, things to keep in mind as small business owners (I bet you guys know this already but I have to say them somewhere) are:
1) Keep responsibilities and the chain of command clearly defined-- who's in charge of who, who's in charge of what project or aspect of a project, whose job this task is, whose job that task is. Periodically reassess things from a management perspective-- does one person have too much or too little to worry about? Do two people collide in their responsibilities?
2) Keep communication CLEAR. Have periodic meetings if you think that would be helpful-- get everyone together, give them a pizza or bagels or something, talk about things clearly, don't ramble on and get boring, and make sure if anyone has any issues that they raise them. Keep everyone informed of the big picture and they feel more motivated on their own part.
3) Don't step on people's toes. Even if they're junior to you, respect their expertise where they have it, listen to their input, and don't axe projects they're fond of with no explanation. Reward them with at least praise now and then to lubricate the whole process. And make sure they understand clearly what their responsibilities are, and then respect those. Don't micromanage-- that's the single worst thing my boss does for this company. He doesn't understand webdesign at all but keeps telling me minor details I should incorporate-- he was on about "frames" all last week until I explained what frames were and that he meant tables.
The corollary of course is that junior employees must likewise respect the toes of senior employees, but that's much easier if the boundaries of responsibility are clearly defined.

Oh, and do not, I repeat do not, do what my boss just did to me-- sneak up behind your employee and say "so what are you doing?" and then not be interested in their response because you were only there to try and startle them or make them feel guilty for slacking off. He makes it a point to sneak up behind every employee at irregular intervals throughout the day, and often he doesn't say anything, but just stares at their monitor. I find it offensive that he makes it his business to directly supervise us like that. It doesn't stop me from posting here, does it? No. It just makes me wilier in hiding my windows. And resentful. Resentfulness is a productivity killer.
But, of course, not as big a productivity killer as poorly-defined projects. Why should I hurry to implement the latest changes to the website? The pages have been redone 7 or 8 times each, and will probably just be redone again. It's not beneficial to me in any way to hurry this implementation along so I can have my work overwritten that much sooner. *shrug*

So, there's a little primer on How Not To Demoralize Your Enthusiastic Young Employees. Hope it's helpful or even applicable. :trash:

#7 Matt B

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 10:22 AM

I may be the exception here - being in a web shop.

It's nice to have a team of programmers in the next room that I can send a site back for more involved optimization to the code, css implementation, image optimization, and especially dynamic issues. I have a production manager that takes it off my hands until the programmers are done, and then it comes back to the SEO team.

However, as the process was mentioned, you still have to check the work. There is still a little bit of friction that comes up from time to time, but mainly as a result of unclear instructions or miscommunication.

We still outsource some copywriting and link building, but for the most part we handle it in-house. But still - you have to check the work. It's hard and it feels like you should just do it yourself sometimes, but otherwise, I'll never get anything done.

#8 Haystack

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 11:23 AM

One strategy I use is putting a value on my time, then figuring out if I could find someone to do the work for some fraction of that, thus freeing up my time to focus on the work with the highest returns.

It certainly is a challenge for many entrepreneurs to give up some control. The "if you want something done right, do it yourself" attitude is tough break. Use your time wisely.

#9 stoli

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 12:50 PM

It is hard to break out of the "I'll just do it myself " mode.

I "think" sucesssful managers have accompliched it somewhat.

Imagine if every day you just did everything that needs to be done and didnt trust to delegate. Imigine what effect that would have on co-workers. I would venture to say that at some point they would stop trying to help out or even be concerned when something came up. They would feel that they were "getting in the way"!

I have been in corporate environments before where POLITICS RULE and work goes un-noticed. I feel in order for a company (and employee/employer) to grow we must all have share in the responsibility of "doing whatever it takes to get the job done"

If someone does a good job give them a compliment! :yay:

#10 Bill Slawski

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 07:49 PM

Some really good ideas, above. I like Dragonlady7's response. It reminds me a lot of my thoughts regarding management and delegation.


Good training is a start, but it isn't enough by itself.

Communication is very important. A key is to define some metrics - some way of telling how effective a job someone is doing, and keep track of those.

Those could, and should be worked upon together, and redefined together when necessary. Employees should know their jobs, and their expertise at defining success in their job is important.

How do you both know that the person you rely upon is doing a good job? You work together to define what a "good job" actually might be. And then you keep track of whether that definition is being met.

But what things do you measure?

Some choices might be: numbers of orders placed, clients talked to on the telephone, number of emails sent out to people, rankings of a web site, percentage of completion of a specific job, number of articles written, weekly statistics compiled, etc.

I'm not suggesting micromanagement, but rather an agreed way of measuring, with communication that is open enough so that if there are changes, the employee lets the manager know.


A potential manager's success in following this method may rely upon whether they can figure out how to measure their own success or failure.

If you write down your week's goals at the beginning of a week, what would they be? Could you break them down into a percentage of time or effort towards certain tasks?

If you can do that with your own work and effort, you might be able to do it with someone elses. Being able to manage your own time well is a skill that can really help when it comes time to try to manage someone else's time.


Are there tools to help you?

Performance evaluations can be useful. There are books on the subject of management and evaluating employees' work. They are sometimes good idea generators.

Something very effective you can do is just to make sure that you have time to talk about how work is going on a regular basis. (Pre-arranged meetings, and not the stealth ones that dragonlady7 described.)



One of the best examples I've seen of defining metrics and keeping communication open was in a factory setting rather than in an office.


I've held more than a couple jobs. I've managed a number of people, and I've been managed.

One manufacturing production (conveyor belt) job I held once upon a time had an enlightened practice of beginning every shift with a chat session that let everyone know how well the company was doing, and how production was that day.


Every item that shipped was counted, and quality control success measures where shown to everyone. The lag between orders and shipped orders was expressed to people, and they were allowed, and encouraged to speak up and note any problems or successes. Communication was very open, and vital to the teamwork that developed, and the committment to success.

That company is doing very well, and no small part of it depends upon their very efficient and effective distribution centers.

Good management means being able listen well, setting goals together, and possessing the flexibilty to act when those goals need to be changed.

#11 Ron Carnell

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 01:11 AM

Training is a long-term investment, not a short-term one.

I actually started my adult life in the training industry, specifically food service, and published about a score of articles in national magazines during the early-Seventies. Like anything dealing with people, it is more art than science, with more rules and quasi-rules than stars in the sky. Many of those rules have been mentioned in this thread, and I think Bill hit on some especially good ones. All of the rules, however, are generalities that can never guarantee that YOU will be happy with your employee or independent contractor.

Training is not about handing someone a job and then checking to make sure it was done the way you would have done it. That's just a recipe for disappointment and frustration. Training is an investment, and that means you have to incur an expense. When you hire your first employee or contractor, you should plan on working shoulder to shoulder with them on everything. The cost of all you do, for a while, will almost literally double. It's an investment, remember? Yea, you're going to be showing them how to "do stuff," specifically the way you want the stuff done, but more importantly, you're going to be teaching them, through direct example, your philosophies and work ethic. Think of it not as just training, but as mentoring.

Your goal isn't just to train that first individual, but to build the start of a "culture," something all successful companies and organizations have. Your company's culture is the set of unspoken rules that are (one hopes) a reflection of you. They can't be dictated by formal policy, they often can't even be articulated, but those unspoken rules are as inevitable as death and capital gains taxes. If YOU are to be happy with your people and the jobs they do, you want the culture they follow to reflect you as much as possible. You essentially want to clone yourself, not necessarily in terms of abilities, but in terms of philosophies.

Part of that, of course, is hiring the right person, part of it is forcing employees to do what you want or face termination, but the bigger part of it is simply being highly visible (shoulder to shoulder, remember?), while being the kind of person someone wants to emulate. If you consistently set high expectations for yourself, your employees will set similarly high expectation for themselves. Take the high road every single time, even when it hurts, and your employees will do the same. Never miss a single opportunity to show or verbalize the way you want your business to run. Training, the important kind of training, is accumulative and never ends.

The culture of a work place is as contagious as a virus and, like a virus, will eventually take on a life of its own. And that's your real goal. At some point, those people you worked with shoulder to shoulder will assume the role of working shoulder to shoulder with new hires, and those new people will similarly be infected with your virus. Soon, the employees will be building and reinforcing and enforcing the culture even in your absence. New hires either fit into that culture, or they quickly leave. If Bill Gates died tomorrow, the culture of Microsoft would change not at all.

#12 Bill Slawski

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 05:51 AM

Hi Ron,

Good to see you here. :bye:

It's exciting to see the process Ron describes, when you've spent a year or two working with someone, training them and handing them more and more responsibility and accountability, and then you hire someone else, and have the first person take control of their training.

If you haven't had employees before and are considering taking on an employee or two, you might want to consider a little training of your own. I took a "train the trainer" class a few months back. It ran five days in total, but was an excellent experience. I've seen plenty of other classes for small businesses at community colleges. There are also mentoring programs available through the Small Business Administration and SCORE. It can make a real difference having someone you can talk to and ask questions face-to-face.

#13 Debra

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 07:38 PM

Think of it not as just training, but as mentoring.


Bravo Ron. What a great comment.

Mentoring is a viral process. Someone helps you and eventually you do the same for another. It's a long term win-win for everyone.

#14 Jill

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 10:05 PM

Part of that, of course, is hiring the right person, part of it is forcing employees to do what you want or face termination, but the bigger part of it is simply being highly visible (shoulder to shoulder, remember?), while being the kind of person someone wants to emulate. If you consistently set high expectations for yourself, your employees will set similarly high expectation for themselves. Take the high road every single time, even when it hurts, and your employees will do the same. Never miss a single opportunity to show or verbalize the way you want your business to run. Training, the important kind of training, is accumulative and never ends.

Couldn't agree more! What a great paragraph that is! Thanks, Ron. :beer:

Jill

#15 stoli

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 01:55 PM

Training is a long-term investment, not a short-term one.


That is also an important comment! I like the term "investment", because training does take up one's most valuable resource - TIME

It truly feels like you don't have time to train others but the long term result is that training will give you more time.

I have a hard time doing the nitty gritty details. I get bogged down in the overall picture and end up at day's end, having accomplished zilch. I guess I cannot see the forest through the trees!

Somebody once told me to think of your daily-to-do list as a jar filled different sized stones.

First you fill the jar with the big stones, then the medium stones, and finally add the small stones in the spaces created. The thought being that you get the big tasks (important) done first, then the rest.

Even though the jar looks full, there is still room for beer.




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