4 Levels of Delegation

Delegation isn’t as simple as “hey – do this thing” – there are aspects of delegation that will vary from role to role, based on the needs of the business. When we are clear on these different levels it can help alleviate some of the more common frustrations that come up in working together.

I’m curious – how do you see these different levels applying to you and your team? Leave a comment below and let me know.

The invisible workload

I saw a post over the holidays talking about the invisible workload of the holiday season and the weight of having to think about & plan everything… getting gifts, coordinating family dinners, putting decorations up, putting decorations away and taking care of ‘all the things’. As a mom I could totally relate!

This is referred to as the invisible workload because even if we aren’t the one doing everything, we are the one THINKING about all the things and making all the decisions. Who is going to bring dessert for family dinner? What gifts should we get the kids? When do we put up the xmas lights? Should we take the tree down on new years day or wait? I could go on.

And even if we have help in the household – a spouse, partner or kids – we are still the ones having to ASK folks to do things. Sometimes more than once. (something I’m very familiar with having 2 teenage daughters in the house… I’ve asked my daughter to take her dishes upstairs twice already today 😉

As I read this post it occurred to me – this happens in our businesses as well!

How much of what we ‘do’ each day falls into the invisible workload category? Things that aren’t obvious and that we can’t necessarily check off a to-do list, but that can take up a surprising amount of time & energy.

Things like:

  • Thinking about what needs to be done – when, how and by who
  • Delegating what needs to be done – we may not be doing the work but having to ‘pass it along’ to someone else still takes time
  • Following up on tasks – checking in with folks re: “what is the status of this?” is work, in particular when things aren’t getting done or are falling behind
  • Making decisions – be it big or small decisions, there is energy required to think through everything so we can decide (and decision fatigue is a very real thing)

Now to some degree the invisible workload is just part of the gig – as business owners there is always thinking & decision making to be done.

But as our businesses grow we simply don’t have the capacity – or the desire! – to keep all of this invisible workload on our plates. And it can start to show over time through exhaustion, frustration or by things being stalled waiting for our input & decisions.

There are a few things you can do when you find the invisible workload is becoming too much:

  • Hire an OBM to take some of the invisible workload off your shoulders – once you hit the early to mid 6-figure range there is simply too much going on to keep it all on your own shoulders. An OBMs expertise is taking your vision/goals and turning those into actionable plans, getting the right folks in place and ensuring that the work is getting done on time and correctly.
  • Lead your team to take more ownership of their role – where is your team relying on you to make decisions or tell them what to do? Work together to clarify their role and lay out expectations of where they can take more ownership and make decisions on their own.
  • Look to simplify where possible – are you trying to do too many things at once? As a visionary I can easily fall into the trap of “let’s do all these things and do them now!!” which of course means more thinking, decisions and delegation. Instead of trying to do 3 things this month, what if you focused on doing only 1?

I’m curious – where/how do you feel like the invisible workload is showing up in your business?

And if you are an OBM/service provider – where could you take more of the invisible workload off your client’s plate? They may not be asking you for this, but I assure you they will thank you for it when you do!

The one question to ask yourself when you want to take (for real) time off this summer

If you take time off and still have to work… is it really a vacation?

I daresay it’s not!

And yet I get it… as business owners this is easier said than done. We have clients who rely on us. Stuff to be done. The business needs to keep on running even when we want to step away for a few days, a week or more. (We might even be just a *little* bit addicted to our work, but hey… that’s a convo for another time.)

So does this mean we never get to take time off? Heck no!

What it means is that we need to be PURPOSEFUL and PLAN for how we are going to take time off… unplugged, no checking in with clients or team kind of time.

It all starts with asking yourself one question:

“If I was to take this week off [INSERT DATE HERE], what could fall apart while I’m away?”

What is on my to-do list for the week? What are my ongoing tasks that need to be completed?
What could happen with clients? With team? With projects?
What could stall? Or fall apart?

Take a few minutes and make a list… go ahead, I’ll wait here for you.

Now let’s look at your list and run it through the following filters…

  • Which of these things could I get done ahead of time?
  • Which of these things could wait until I’m back?
  • Which of these things could I ask someone else to take care of for me?

Mark each item on your list accordingly, and then it’s time to make some decisions.

  • For those things that could be done ahead of time, set aside some extra time to do so (I get that this isn’t 100% ideal as it means working more before you take time off, but that can still be worth it to enjoy some for real unplugged time)
  • For those things that could wait until you are back, go ahead and reschedule them (we often think things *need* to be done when in fact it could be OK to postpone them for a week or so)
  • For those things that other folks can take care of in your absence, this is where we need to create solid, documented processes so that others can do the work while we are away (and that we work together to train and empower them to feel confident to take care of things during this time.)

This is exactly what we are doing in my business right now. Each of us on the team has chosen a week off this summer, and then each person is responsible to ask themselves this question and plan/prep accordingly (with a focus on updating/documenting our processes so that as a team we can take care of each others work.)

Whether it’s a stay-cation or a ‘travel again now that the world is opening up’ style vacation – my wish for you is to be able to fully unplug, rest and enjoy some time just for YOU. (Because we all need it!)

I’m curious – what are your plans for taking time off this summer? Pop a comment below and let me know…

The Management Trap

Yes, it’s important to hire. Yes, it’s important to delegate. Yes, team makes all things possible.

BUT there is something that many business owners aren’t prepared for when they start hiring.

The management trap.

Let’s first dig in and define what management is.

  • Management is about planning – taking a goal and turning it into an actionable plan
  • Management is about people – ensuring the right folks are on the team to execute on the plan
  • Management is about process – finding the best way to get the work done
  • Management is about progress – seeing the plan through to completion and getting stuff done!

It’s the role of a manager to make sure the right things get done, in the right way, at the right time and by the right people.

In the earlier days of our business journey – before we hire – the management part is pretty easy because we only have to manage is ourselves!

But as we grow, and with each new hire… we have people to manage. They need communication around what is going on in the business. They need clarity around their role and what they are doing. They need support to ensure they have all they need to do their best work. They need accountability to get things done right and on time.

We also have to manage projects. We need to create systems and structure. We need strategic planning to keep everything on track.

Put simply… The bigger the business becomes, the more there is to manage.

The question is – who is doing the managing?

There is a ‘rude awakening’ moment with many of the early to mid 6-figure coaches, trainers and agency owners that I work with.

They hire, thinking that will free up their time and they will be able to FINALLY focus on the things they really want to do in their business. Only to find that instead their days are now filled with things like:

  • Checking in with the team to make sure stuff is getting done
  • Thinking constantly about what is coming up
  • Wondering if they have the right folks on the team or not?
  • Answering team questions
  • Trying to figure out the best way to get things done
  • Dealing with the ‘odds and ends’ that come up in the day to day running of the business

This is the management trap.

It’s a rude awakening for many CEOs because a) they didn’t realize how much work management actually is and b) they aren’t very good at it! They find it tiring, frustrating and draining. It’s taking up so much of their time that they can’t actually focus on growing their business and doing what they do best.

If you don’t purposely hire someone to help here – like a Certified OBM – then management will fall on YOUR shoulders. Which may not be the best thing for you, your team or your business.

A Team You Can Trust

I was having a conversation with a colleague recently and he said something that really hit home:

“I know I need help Tina, but I just haven’t been able to find anyone I can trust yet.”

Mmmmmm – I felt this one deeply, because I totally get it.

Trust is the heart of everything when it comes to team.

And it often gets misunderstood…

We think that trust is about the other person. It’s about “finding someone I can trust”.

Trust is something you create as a leader – it’s not just something they show up with.

Let’s break this down a bit. What does trust look like?

  • They keep commitments and get stuff done
  • They own mistakes when they happen
  • They are real with what they can (and can’t) do
  • They care about the business and your customers
  • They are there when needed (within reasonable boundaries of course)
  • They have your back

It’s easy to look at this list and think it’s all about ‘them’. About who they are. That these are innate qualities that they either have (or don’t have.)

That’s simply not true.

Everything on this list is more about your leadership than it is about them. It’s about how you engage with your team. It’s about expectations and agreements. It’s about speaking their language and making sure everyone is on the same page. It’s about communication and culture.

When we look through the lens of leadership, trust is something that we get to build! It’s something that we can own and create with our team. It’s not something that we have to “cross our fingers and hope that we finally found someone we can trust.”

So much more empowering when we look at it that way, yes?

To be clear, it is important to find the right person for the role. To make sure they are a fit for what you need and bring the skills/aptitude you are looking for.

But when you hire the right person for the role then it becomes your responsibility to lead them to success. To build the trust that you so deeply crave.

This is the heart of what I’ll be teaching in our 3-part Team Leadership Workshop that starts next week. If you are interested reply to this email and I’ll send over the details.

Does it ever feel like you and your team are speaking a different language?

Maybe you are…

I see this often with the clients I work with – visionaries in particular – where they share their big ideas with the team, and then assume that the team automatically knows what to do from there. They think that stuff is happening only to find out later that the things they thought were happening aren’t (or that the team is off in a totally different direction.)

My dear fellow visionaries, allow me to say this with all the love in my heart. You may be confusing the heck out of your team because you are speaking a different language than they are.

Visionaries think in big picture. Ideas. Possibilities. We think in generalities. We are future focused. And we generally like to move fast (“I’ve got this great idea and it’s going to change everything. Let’s make it happen now – woo hoo!!”)

The folks on your team don’t think the same way you do. They think in specifics (“what will it actually take to get there?”) They think in terms of priorities (“Here’s what needs to happen first, then we can look at this next”) They think in terms of capacity and what it will actually take to get things done well (“I know you want it all now but this is going to take longer than you think it will…”)

Ultimately this a good thing. We need each other. Visionaries need doers. We need operators. We need managers. We need the folks that will see all the steps and get things done.

Likewise our team needs us to set the vision, the goals, the focus… they need our big ideas, otherwise there is nothing to work towards.

BUT it all falls apart when we don’t know how to communicate – when the way we show up as a leader ends up bringing more confusion than clarity. <— Oooof

If you’ve ever felt like “ugh! why aren’t they getting it!” or “I swear we talked about this but they went off and did something else.” If you feel like you keep having the same conversations over and over again this is pointing to a communication issue.

The good news is – this is VERY fixable when you know how to speak their language.

When you know how to translate your big ideas into actionable items. So that your team really gets what you are asking for, and you can all move forward together and be on the same page.

This is exactly what I’ll be teaching in the first class of our Team Leadership workshop that starts next week. I’ll be sharing with you a specific process to have these conversations, including ‘what to say’ (and what not to say!).

Bottom line is this – it’s up to you as the leader to ensure that your communication is clear and everyone is on the same page. It’s not up to them to try to make sense of what you are saying.

If you are interested in the workshop email me at tina@tinaforsyth.com and I’ll send over the details.