Delegation is a tricky art to master. It’s easy to slip too far into delegating everything, just as it’s hard to let go, resulting in not enough delegation. Not only that, but it’s hard to know when, how, and to whom you should delegate. Try these seven simple tips to get it right.

Pick things to delegate down

Your tasks may include lots of little things that don’t require any particular skill or knowledge to execute. Tasks such as employee work time management, tracking compliance with company service level agreement, or evaluating your team’s daily, weekly and monthly results against targets can be time-consuming, so these are the things you should absolutely delegate down to those who are in your team. If you have an assistant, this is the kind of work that they can take on for you.

Pick what to delegate up

You’re also able to delegate things that require specific skills and knowledge, particularly if you don’t have that knowledge. You can bring in freelancers or consultants to get specific IT tasks done or to conduct training if you know that it isn’t in your wheelhouse. It’s likely, though, that you may need to secure permission from your superiors if you aren’t managing your own business.

Make it clear

When delegating, make sure to include clear instructions – it’s best to assume someone doesn’t know anything about the task and explain it in detail to avoid mistakes. Instead of simply ordering someone to prepare the capacity plan for the upcoming month, grant this person access to holiday and absence tracking tools and hand out a complete list of active employees. Also, attach step by step instructions on how to calculate capacity quickly, accurately and effortlessly. The good thing about this is that you can simply copy and paste those instructions next time, or expect the person to remember how to do the task, so you likely won’t have to write everything out often after you’ve done it once.

Know your authority

Some managers struggle with asking team members to take on extra work or tasks. However, you need to know your authority. You’re in charge, so you can tell people to do what you like. You don’t even have to ask – your employees need to do what you require them to do. Remember that and you should feel more relaxed about delegation. After all, you as a manager should make your team work as a well-oiled machine, because you are being evaluated on the basis of the performance of your team. Every team member should understand the importance of teamwork and equally care about fostering team spirit.

Empower your team

Use delegation as a way to grow your team’s skills and knowledge base, as well as to allow them to take on extra responsibility in small stages. If you notice that one person is great at assessing the workload and the other one gets professional satisfaction from training new hires, encourage them to expand the skills that may later on guarantee a promotion, bonus, or salary increase. However, by all means do not use your power of delegation as a way to throw the dirty work their way, get help with last-minute tasks that are going to be a nightmare, or so on. Empower your team by delegating ahead of time and getting the workload balanced properly.

Let go

Many managers end up with an attitude that if they want something done right, they have to do it themselves. If you find it hard to let go of your daily tasks, then there’s a way to gradually do so. Have employees work alongside you on certain tasks so that you can see they know how to do it. Then allow them to do it alone under your supervision. It will help your team members spread their wings and consequently accomplish the tasks from start to finish. Eventually, you’ll see it’s not as stressful as it seems.

Check in regularly

While no one likes the feeling of a backseat driver watching over everything they do, it’s important to check back now and then to ensure the work is being done properly. You can have regular reviews, but don’t make them so regular that employees feel harassed. Give them trust, and position your check-ins as an opportunity for them to let you know of any problems or ask for advice, rather than just a chance to see what they’ve done wrong. Assist your employees with plenty of constructive feedback. Acknowledge their attention to detail with SLA controls or growing analytical skills for processing productivity results. At the same time share your best time management tips, point out any mistakes they may be making and stress pain points that require maximum attention.

 

Delegating is tough, but once you start to master it, you’ll see that it gives you a much better chance to actually get your job done. It will take a lot of weight off your shoulders once those tasks are being handled correctly.


Alex Lawson is a Financial Team Leader and a blogger, working together with other experts at Brighter Finance.


One of today’s top challenges for many entrepreneurs is how to hire and create a winning team. Putting together a dynamic group of employees who are passionate about the mission of their company is crucial for success! It can also be very expensive.

Investment

Many small businesses lack the resources to pay for expensive testing to determine a potential employee’s fitness for the opportunities available. Same applies to paying recruiters to find you the “perfect” placement.

The advertising, interviewing and training investment you make in each new employee is substantial, costing time, energy and money. If you want to build a top notch team but have a small business budget, you likely can’t steal away the current experts in your field to work for you. When you invest in a new employee, you want to retain the individual to reap the benefits of your investment while offering them unique opportunities for growth.

Yet to those of us who started our operation on a shoestring budget, bootstrapping everything we could, the idea of a “hiring process” seems almost too standard a procedure to use in our fluid entrepreneurial environment. It’s not always possible to maintain an entrepreneurial mindset alongside more traditional corporate hiring practices.

Planning

In the early days of my company, when I was its only staff, it was difficult to plan ahead for the time I would hire my first employee, much less an entire team. I was too busy trying to survive. As my company grew, so did my need for help.

My constant question was how and where I would find the people I needed with the knowledge and passion necessary to do the job… at what I could afford to pay.

Even when you are in a desperate situation, don’t make a move toward identifying and hiring your first employee until you’ve defined the overall vibe you want your business to exude. It’s much harder to do so once you’ve hired and have employees in place.

This can make or break everything. The team you put in place becomes part of your foundation, especially in a small business. As difficult as it sounds, you have to know your tribe before you build it. It’s easier than you might think.

First, determine what personality type you work best with.  Look at other areas in your life, at relationships. Then think about your own shopping or service experiences.  Think vacation.  Anyone who’s taken a vacation has stepped into a gift shop or received some kind of service for the first time. Some of them make impressions lasting a lifetime. Others are completely forgettable.  Make a list of the things you like most and least when you’re the customer. Use that information to create standards for your own business, as a blueprint for your personal vibe. Write down what you find out, to keep you mindful of and focused on the intentional creation of the workplace culture you desire.  You can easily design your specific, written employee guidelines later using these initial benchmarks.

As a retailer, mine included the following criteria:

  • What type of dress is acceptable given your type of business? A potential employee must be willing and able to meet a basic dress code. My guidelines called for jeans without holes and t-shirts. Shirts could be branded but not carry a message. Shorts were fine too, but must reach mid-thigh. Because we unloaded pallets of inventory five days a week, closed-toed shoes were required.
  • What are your values? Honesty, willingness, compassion, teachability and a desire for serving others were at the top of my list.
  • What is your concept of customer service? I am extremely particular regarding this provision. I’ve had great interviews with people who exhibited everything I liked to see, but couldn’t master the social aspect of retail.
  • What kind of learner are you? Written, verbal or experiential? The more staff you add, the more important this becomes.
  • How do you normally solve problems? What happens when the problem becomes a verbal conflict? How do you handle unhappy people?

These are just a few considerations I made before hiring. Understand the requirements you have of an applicant prior to making your first hire will help you build a strong, loyal team of employees with a clear understanding of your needs.

Criteria

Faced with a need to hire your first employee while keeping in mind your end-goal of building a team you will one day lead, a savvy entrepreneur looks for and hires people who exhibit raw talent and the willingness to learn. Where to find them quickly becomes your new challenge.

Start by looking at the people close to you. I spent almost all my time at work, helping customers while slowly building my company. In the process I came to know a variety of people, many of whom became passionate supporters of my business. It naturally followed I would look to this group first when I hired.

No matter what population you draw from, it is important to evaluate and select the best candidates for your specific industry. Particularly when you choose candidates from your customer base or decide to hire someone who works for a local competitor, use caution.  These people may also be influencers, able to directly impact your profitability should the employment relationship sour.

One tool I use is a simple criteria list.  The list helps me narrow down who I should approach while reducing the overall number of potential hires. I look for basic things when assessing a person’s readiness and approachability:

  • Do they look you in the eye during conversations?
  • Can they assimilate and recall information?  Try a little mirroring exercise to determine their abilities in this area.  Ask, “Do you remember our conversation earlier when we talked about _____?  How did the information help you at the time?” Simple, unassuming questions give you a clear understanding of how they process information.  It also gives you a chance to evaluate their delivery of information.
  • How do they stand?  Erect or slouched?  In a physically demanding environment, physical core strength is important. Slouching may also indicate low self-esteem. A person’s posture shows more about herself than they might imagine.

In the end, you have to decide based on ALL the information you gather, the challenges you can work around when hiring.  Once I decide to offer someone a position, they are subject to a 60 trial period.  During that time, if either of us felt they weren’t the right fit or the job was not as they’d expected, either of us could end the employment relationship, no harm done.

Strategies

Once you’ve found your perfect new hire and they’re ready to come on board, what can you do to set both you and them up for success?

Relationships

From your first hire to your last, look for people you already have a good relationship with, who understand what your company does and why. I recruited most of my top talent this way.

It’s important for both parties to keep in mind the changes that must take place in your relationship when hiring someone you know. Boundaries change when a customer/business relationship becomes one of employee/employer. Roles must be redefined clearly. Methods of communication also change. What might have been a very fluid relationship is now more structured.

After several mistakes and losing two key people, I learned it is necessary to have these issues addressed in writing as part of an employee handbook, operational guidebook or in a form suited to your particular type of business. Bottom line, get clear on what you need as an entrepreneur and employer before hiring.

You’ll make changes to your operating guidelines over time. Your first concern is easing the transition from customer to employee. The smoothest transitions are made when both the person hiring and the candidate being hired are on the same page. In time, you will create an extraordinary team of employees who love what they do and the people they work with.

Training

Training a new employee isn’t as daunting as it may sound. A new employee is going to have deficits, skill sets they haven’t developed yet or have no aptitude for. From the first day, communicate consistently with your new hire, their mentor, and the rest of your team. During their first few weeks, check in daily with the mentor you’ve assigned to get feedback and keep your new hire’s training on point.  Your concern should be how can you set them up for success.

  • First, as the owner or CEO, introduce your new hire to the rest of the staff or your team.  They need to feel welcome and as comfortable as they can be on their first day of work.  Once they’ve met the team, as the day goes on, introduce them to customers.  The best way to build a new relationship is taking the first step to creating it by facilitating communication.  Plus, your new hire will immediately start to feel part of your team.
  • Partner your new hire up with a seasoned employee whose strengths best match the needs of your new employee. This mentorship begins with an understanding of what you as the employer expect from a mentor. Provide a list of what you’d like your senior employee to focus on while mentoring a new hire. A mentor can act as sounding board, offering suggestions and advice to the new hire, as well as direct training.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm your new hire. Start training on the basics first, for example, teaching them how to answer the phone or emails. If you have a standard greeting, ensure they’re aware of it by putting it next to the phone or providing an email template. You might also provide a list of the most commonly asked questions, with answers.
  • Teach them to greet people, the way you want them to be addressed, as they come into your business or contact you online. This is the first impression most customers will have with your business, so I was particular about this skill.
  • Test their technology skills on the first day, whether it’s running a spreadsheet or using your company’s software. Measure their starting baseline. Most people catch on quickly. Some take more time and a few just can’t get tech. If you have hired someone who cannot get the tech side of the job, you’ll have to determine if there is another position in your organization they can fill or if, despite the thoroughness of your interview process, your new hire simply isn’t a good match.
  • Have a basic guide to the products you carry or services you provide, why they are unique and any selling points. This is especially important if you specialise in a certain service or product market. For example, I owned natural pet food stores and the learning curve for a new employee was at least six months. Don’t set your expectations too high. Everyone learns at a different pace.

These are but a few training strategies. Consistent communication between your new hire, their mentor, your existing team, and your customers, will help you quickly identify and act on any potential training challenges.

Communication

Make it a practice with all your employees, whether you have one or 1,000, to notice and appreciate what they do well. Touch base with them often to strengthen the relationship you’ve worked so hard to develop. An appreciated employee is more likely to speak up when she knows they’re a valued part of your team, even as a new hire.

Happy, motivated employees communicate openly, making an easier time of addressing areas in need of improvement. A team of employees who know the business owner respects and considers their opinions, will give their much-needed feedback during a hiring cycle.

 

Once hired, set your new employee up for success by using these techniques. Work to build relationships, provide strong mentors, offer a well-designed training program, manage expectations and keep channels of communication open.

In doing so, you create a rock-solid foundation on which your business will continue to grow. Well-trained, bound together by a common desire to serve customers and the larger community, this incredible team you built will shine!


Robin Aldrich is the founder of Robin Aldrich, LLC, Healthy Hound, Inc., and the Boomerang Business Project.  A U.S. Navy veteran, she offers 30 years of military, nonprofit and business leadership to her clients. With a focus on Servant Leadership, building Entrepreneurial Mindsets and Personal Development, she consults with corporations and individuals passionate about building strong relationships, both personal and professional. She is published on Addicted2Success,Thrive Global and Medium.


Business lives or dies on the decisions you make and the attitudes you hold from the very beginning. All mindsets feed the ego. Business is a wild ride, with lots of ups and downs and unexpected turns.

The best workplaces represent a commitment by every person to becoming their best self. Starting with the founder, the alignment of personal and organisational values creates the compass for all decision making. When you move your ego to the side and place your best self forward, you create a value-based focus in the workplace.

Let me share with you 11 ways how to bypass the ego, and thrive in business today and into the future.

Command and control is buried

Most people associate leaders as those who rise to the top, who display a ‘take charge’ attitude and exude confidence. Command and control models may have worked in the past; however, the world has changed. Leaders with greater self-awareness recognise both their strengths and limitations, rather than handing down their own judgements and ignoring feedback from others.

An inclusive culture doesn’t support the one-hit wonder or the Robin Hood mentality. Leaders understand the limitations of their ego and include others in critical decision making and give away all the rewards.

Invest in the humanity of others

The egoless leader recognizes how to play to their strengths, identifies the gaps in their skill set and confidently hires people capable of closing those gaps. They relinquish the need to control everything, and invest in the humanity of others. They care for their people to deliver immeasurable benefits for their teams and organisation.

Big ideas, tiny egos

De-emphasising where an idea comes from and moving from the ‘I’ to the ‘we’, creates an environment where there is no room for prima donnas. A ‘we’ leader will solicit ideas from all levels, encouraging people who experiement with different ideas and championing unsuccessful efforts. A phenomenal leader thrives from the accomplishment of the team and strives for the greater good of the organisation.

Learn from the fighters

Humility goes hand-in-hand with an egoless leader. Sam Sheridan, the author of A Fighters Heart, interviewed the best fighters in the world. Consistently, messages of humility were identified as being the most important attribute for a great fighter. They put their ego aside, outworked their opponents, always looked for the gaps in their game and constantly pushed their limits.

A big ego makes you afraid to push, to try new things, to open up and grow. Ego makes you complacent and stagnant in your thinking. The epic fighters have an inner fierceness, a focus that belies their calm appearance and a no-excuses drive to do whatever it takes to succeed. A sincere servitude attitude, laser-focused drive and a stoic commitment to a work ethic drives results.

Have courageous conversations

When we avoid dealing with an issue, people can become destructive and business is hindered. When it comes to having a challenging conversation, leave your ego at the door. Park the emotion to the side and approach the conversation with an intent to heal the situation. Our intention and choices dictate the nature of the conversation. Your ability to recognise reality and move beyond the ego will move yourself and your people into endless possibility. Business requires courageous conversations.

Confidence is quiet, insecurities are loud

When the ego is at the forefront, arrogance can kill opportunities. The loud egocentric leader who doesn’t permit dialogue, judges people who share their experiences, and lacks the emotional intelligence, kills dreams quickly.

Close-minded people are less likely to discover new ideas, as they disengage from learning from others or forming connections. False assumptions are made, team work is devalued, and humility gets thrown out the window.

First impressions are everlasting and sometimes a second chance is not an option. Actions will always be stronger than words and when you open the door to growth, people and business thrive.

Admit what you don’t know

The first step towards gaining greater knowledge is admitting what you do not know. It means leaving the ego behind and exercising humility to addressing complex problems. When you become more comfortable with the notion that there is nothing wrong with a leader gathering their team, identifying strengths and limitations, then reaching out to those with a better appreciation of a situation regardless of their profession or walk of life is part of the fabric of the business.

An enviroment of collaboration

When egos are left behind, an environment of collaboration will become the platform of your culture. The leader sets the tone and when it turns into a culture, the belief is infused throughout the organisation. When you come in with an open mind and focus on mission success, you will foster a culture of collaboration. This will permeate the tapestry of the organisation. Success is based on relationships and bringing people graciously along, not on personal advancement. Recognise that it takes committed team effort to work towards viable solutions.

Heavy lifting to build the muscle

Leaders need to be present when it counts. When leaders worry only about themselves and show up for the ‘performance’, their ego is driving the ship. Valued leaders are there before and long after the event. They are engaged with their team, not all the time, but are there for the heavy lifting.

Leaving ego behind has different meanings to different people. It takes a humble leader to admit what they do not know to lead our organisation’s most precious treasure – our daughters, sons, mothers and fathers. Egos bent on personal glory are not what we need in 21st century. People deserve putting the team first and egos last.

Wake-up call

In leadership, if you think everyone else is the problem, it usually means you’re the problem. Resistance is painful, but commitment to facing it the problem empowering. Power struggles and dysfunctional behavior are ubiquitous in businesses of all sizes. When blaming, avoiding conflict, over-controlling, and assuming ill-intent run amok, people stop looking ahead and bury their head in the sand instead. Conflict laden environments undermine employee happiness. Dysfunction is an automatic response to stress or fear. In fact, dysfunction is learned, predictable and most importactly – changeable.

The key for individuals, teams or organisations to break the cycle is to ask quality questions about the choices they make in certain situations. What did you do to help? What do you know for sure? What could you do next to add value? What would you be doing to help if you didn’t have your story? What are you committing to do next? Looking outward and considering the vulnerabilities of others creates the space for you to emphasise with how they feel.

It starts with you

To break through the turf wars in your organization, it starts with you. Working on yourself is the highest act of leadership. Alone, you can make good decisions. Collaboratively, you envision greater opportunities. Checking your ego means abandoning pursuit of approval, attention, and appreciation and then channeling your energy to awakening and leading with the ultimate version of you.


Angela Kambouris is a highly-valued leadership coach and business leader having spent over 20 years in the field of vulnerability and trauma. She is super-passionate about unlocking human potential to deliver extraordinary results and has spoken on stages and worked with thousands of people in the areas of self-development, leadership, mindset, human behavior and business.  She has master-minded with leaders and expert authorities in personal development and business all over the world.


Although I’m the founder of Leaders in Heels, there are many people who help out with the site. Some of us are stay-at-home mums, while others work full time or part time and volunteer their spare time. We work from home or on-the-go, and the majority of our work is done remotely. We work at different time zones and have different schedules. Sound complicated? Here’s how I manage a team in multiple locations!

All our files are on a shared drive in the cloud

We keep all our files on OneDrive. It’s a cloud solution by Microsoft that allows us to access, share and modify files from any device in a common shared drive. We no longer need to email multiple versions files back and forth, or bring along USB sticks when meeting in person. The Leaders in Heels drive is located on my personal account and I simply share it with everyone in my team.

Microsoft is very generous with the storage–I have 7GB of free storage and a bonus 3GB for backing up my camera roll (more about that below).  OneDrive also works with Office 365, so with my subscription, it’s easy to create, edit and share documents, even on mobile devices. I can also download the files I need if I know I’m going to lose internet connection. You can use the OneDrive app or File Explorer to make files available offline.

OneDrive is built-in to the latest version of Windows 8.0 but if you don’t have it, you can just download the OneDrive software or app and automatically sync the files in your OneDrive folder across all your devices. You will need a Microsoft account (free) which you might have already if you use other Microsoft products or their Live email service.  OneDrive works with PCs, Macs, tablets and mobile phones (iOS, Android and Windows Phone).

We use internet on the go

I have very busy schedule, and I’m constantly on the go. Whenever I have time between meetings in the city I open my laptop and connect my phone to it, which lets me use my mobile internet on my laptop. It’s such a useful feature, but I’ve found many people don’t realise you can do this. On an Android or Windows Phone look for Settings, then WiFi Connections. On the iPhone, it’s under Settings, then Personal Hotspot.

We have a shared calendar

When I first started the site, the communication between a contributor, editor, the chief editor and myself meant that we were sending a large number of emails back-and-forth. These days, we utilise a shared Google calendar to manage the entire editorial schedule. Our editors create an entry in the calendar in red. Once the article is submitted into WordPress, she changes the entry’s color to orange. Once the Chief Editor reviews it, it’s set to green. I have a very good view of what’s coming up in the next few weeks and what’s the status of it and our Social Media Manager, Yolanda, can manage her tweets well in advance using Hootsuite. No more unnecessary emails cluttering up any of our mailboxes!

I automatically back up my photos to the cloud

As the founder of Leaders in Heels, I have the pleasure to be invited to many events. I tend to take many photos (on my Nokia 1020) which I later use for articles or social media posts. The OneDrive mobile app can be set up to automatically back up all my photos to my OneDrive. This is very useful when I need to access those photos from computer later (e.g. writing an article about the event I attended). Others on the Leaders in Heels team  also use with Android and Google Plus (or Dropbox).

We manage larger projects with the shared drive

Again, OneDrive comes in handy. Very often our projects and events are managed by volunteers who are not part of the team. They don’t get access to the entire Leaders in Heels drive–I can simply give them access to selected folders like the one for our “We need a Champion!” event. I establish different access levels for each folder, and sometimes simply share a link to the file without giving access to the folder at all.

We run group meetings remotely using Skype

The Leaders in Heels team is spread across Australia and having babies or busy career doesn’t doesn’t make it easy to get everyone in the same place at the same time. It can be painful! So we use a premium Skype account for just slightly over $AU3 a month, which allows us unlimited group conferences and screen sharing.

Do you use any cool technology to manage your work? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Featured Image: overge

Kasia Gospos

Kasia is the founder of Leaders in Heels and is taking part in the Microsoft Connection Program.