I had an experience that allowed me to learn first hand how Not to receive delegation. I am 100% responsible for not addressing this up front, and I was as disappointed as anyone else with the results.
I dropped the ball for someone this summer. I was asked to organize a fund-raiser luncheon in a couple of months. We had a meeting with four of us and some assignments were made. The person in charge was going to make some contacts and get back to me.
I waited to hear from him. I didn’t move forward when I didn’t hear back. I didn’t get invitations out in time, or make contact with donors in time. I didn’t get the job done. I didn’t take the initiative. Looking back, I can see that I didn’t receive specific enough instructions.
We didn’t communicate very clearly who was going to do what. I thought he was doing something that he thought I was doing. It was like two people trying to go through the doorway at the same time and neither one taking the lead, so both of us just got stuck there in the doorway of opportunity.
Regardless, I learned much from this experience and I won’t let it happen again. I found this list a few weeks later and thought how much I could have used this earlier.
5 steps to effective delegation:
1. Make the assignment
2. Let the person perform
3. Offer assistance
4. Receive report
5. Commend the positive, correct any errors
1. Make the assignment: Be specific in what you want from the person. Give them the vision for the end result you would like. What should we both see and experience when this project is finished.
2. Let the person perform: Let them know how and when you will follow-up. If you intend to check in with them every week, tell them that. That way they don’t think you are micro managing them when you call them every Friday to see how things are going.
3. Offer Assistance: Give them information on who and how to get help. If you are providing help, let them know that they can come to you. I always try to remember to over communicate when in doubt.
4. Receive their report when finished: At a specified, when the project is finished or the vision is completed, sit down together and review the results.
5. Commend the positive results, correct any errors: Use the follow-up meeting as an opportunity to break down problems and successes. Make changes for next time.
What is your best delegation failure story?
(these are steps from the book Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood part B)
I got a new work bag.
I love it.
It’s light, and mostly empty.
My old bag was heavy and filled with junk I never used, but carried around everywhere.
Why did I do that?
I let the inertia of the old junky stuff drag me down everyday.
I learned three things about this experience:
1. Unload the junk.
When I changed bags, I only moved the stuff I use, my iPad, a folder and a portable hard drive. That’s it. All the magazines, and receipts and loose change can get lost.
2. Keep it up
I bike to work a couple times a week and use a waterproof backpack. So on a regular basis, every week, I transfer over my three items, cleaning out anything that accumulated in the bottom of the other bag. This keeps me on the straight and narrow.
3. Don’t look back.
My burden is lighter as I travel to work. I don’t travel very far, so I can imagine if I did how much more of a difference it would make.
Now I have also taken this attitude to the rest of my life. What other junk is laying around my house that I need to get rid of? There is plenty I need to work on. Or also how much debt is dragging me down? All of this feels the same, lightening my burden by reducing the unnecessary.
I feel more in control of my life since my wife and I started purposefully eliminating our debt, since I changed work bags, and since I realized I can simplify one step at a time.
What are you carrying that is unnecessary?
When I revamped my hiring process this spring, I had to change so many things. First and foremost was my attitude about who I wanted on my team. I then had to decide how I would attract those types of people.
I learned about the attitude I should have in hiring from another book I have referenced before, Start With Why by Simon Sinek.
One of the author’s themes in this book is that you have to appeal to people who believe what you believe.
Simon shares a story that demonstrates the right way to recruit.
In 1914, an adventurer named Ernest Shackleton set out with a team of 27 men to cross the Antarctic continent, which had never before been done. They didn’t accomplish their mission. After many storms and being trapped in the ice on their boat for 10 months, they traveled hundreds of miles in their life boats to find help.
Eventually they were saved, and all of them survived the ordeal. Simon, in his book, says that this wasn’t luck, but an example of a great hiring process in action.
Before the expedition, Shackleton ran an ad in the London Times for his crew. He didn’t offer benefits. Simon says that he didn’t offer paid time off or amazing pay. This is what Shackleton’s ad said:
“Men wanted for Hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”
If you advertise for the right type of people, the others will weed themselves out.
Ernest Shackleton got the right men for the job because that’s who he asked for.
Who do you want on your expedition? Are you asking the right questions?
I have owned my own business for 5 years and I thought I knew how to hire people. Then I looked back at my record, and realized how wrong I was.
In my past, I had hired and let several people go in my few short years in business. I never felt (with a couple of exceptions) I had the right people on board. I had learned early on, that if someone didn’t fit, that I shouldn’t hold onto them for too long. I knew they could do a lot of damage to my business. But I almost always ended up in the same situation a few months later after we had hired somebody else.
To borrow a metaphor from Jim Collins, I was good at getting the wrong people off the bus, but I kept inviting their friends right back on.
Dave Ramsey teaches in his book and lectures entitled EntreLeadership, that business owners need to:
1. Take more time hiring. Three or four times as long. And make it an involved process.
So what if you miss out on some opportunities on the way, because guess what: if you hire the wrong person too quickly, you will have to let them go and then start over anyway. I learned that I should take the time up front and avoid the turnover I had been experiencing.
Dave Ramsey also explains his process in-depth in his book, but I will share a couple of my favorites:
2. Do you like them?
I had hired people before that I did not want to invite over to my house. I didn’t want to spend extra time with them. Hello! If that wasn’t a clue, I don’t know how much clearer a sign I needed. Don’t waste time working with people you don’t like, especially if you hired them.
3. The spousal interview
In my last round of hiring, my wife and I took out our final candidates and their spouses to dinner. A double date, essentially. It was great, we got to see them interact in a social setting, and we got to see that they weren’t married to “crazy” as Dave Ramsey puts it.
We have worked hard in our business to develop a certain culture and we wanted to introduce new people who would respect and improve it, not drag it down. We succeeded in that regard so far, and actually like to have our team over to our house occasionally.
What successes or failures have you had hiring or being hired?