Hello everyone, welcome to the Balanced Business Leaders Podcast hosted by yours truly, Claire Jones, owner of Liminal Clarity. We are a business development agency that helps small business leaders scale and grow without burning out.
This is the next podcast in a series where we will be discussing the various trials and tribulations that lead me to creating my Three Pillars of Business Success, a framework that represents the foundational systems that contribute to sustainable business growth.
If you’re interested in learning more, please join us in our free Balanced Business Leaders Facebook Group at facebook.com/groups/balancedbusinessleaders.
Ready? Alright, let’s dive in.
So I started this podcast as a way to tell my story, particularly when it comes to the many, many different lessons that I have learned over the years when it comes to founding, developing, running, and growing small businesses.
This particular episode is about Delegation techniques, which represent the fourth step in creating a Sustainable Schedule for yourself as a busy small business leader.
Delegation is an important aspect of Sustainable Schedules because everyone is human and at some point we’re going to reach our personal limits.
There’s not enough time in the day, and you physically, mentally, and emotionally only have so much that you can contribute before you run out of gas.
So at some point, you’re going to have to start delegating tasks. And when I’m talking about delegating, it doesn’t necessarily have to only apply to people that you are actively managing, like employees, but it can also include anyone that you’re working with – like contractors, photographers, lawyers, bookkeepers, networking colleagues, even family members.
Whether this means enlisting your kids to help with cleaning the house, hiring a professional to help with your business bookkeeping tasks, or asking your cousin to take care of the mashed potatoes for your family’s Thanksgiving dinner – it is worth the time and energy to develop better delegation skills to make sure that each of these projects run smoothly with minimal involvement from you.
And the key to effective delegation is clearly setting expectations up front and then consistently checking in for opportunities to praise or redirect.
When you start any project, you need to let people know up front what you are going to do with them, how you are going to help them, and the criteria for achieving success in that scenario.
You have to clearly document, preferably written, what the goals are and what kind of behavior is going to achieve those goals so that everyone is on the same page.
You have to have them documented in some way so that there’s no confusion as to what’s expected and you also need to review them frequently because it’s very rare for things to go exactly according to plan. Change is a constant and so goals often need to be pivoted and adjusted along the way.
Most long-term goals need to be tweaked on a week-to-week basis to make sure that they still stay on track because things always change so you need to make sure that you’re still on the right track and that you’re still taking the right approach.
Again, we’re talking about self-awareness here – people need to be encouraged to notice what they’re actually doing on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis and make sure that their actions and behaviors align with the goals you originally agreed upon.
This is often what trips a lot of people up because they think that if they just keep their original goal in mind, they’ll eventually reach it somehow. That if they just create the vision board, or say their positive affirmations every morning, or keep telling themselves that they’ll lose 60 pounds in 3 months – it’ll somehow happen.
But you really have to break your goals down day by day, week by week, month by month, even quarter-by-quarter and year by year – depending on how big the goals are – to make sure that the tasks that you’re doing are on a daily basis are gradually building up to the goal.
If the people involved are not doing the behaviors that contribute to the overall goal, then you need to change the behaviors so that you can get back on track.
If you want to buy that dream house, you need to break down each and every step that will get you there. If you want to get that promotion at work, you need to figure out what specific behaviors will achieve that goal. If you want to lose 60 pounds, you need to figure out what your exercise and diet plans are going to look like on a daily basis.
This is where the review comes into play – you need to periodically review to make sure that the actual behaviors are aligning with the goals. And, if you find that you’re still on the right track, then that’s where a quick and intentional praising can occur.
If things are going well, you need to recognize all of the small wins and celebrate them: Celebrate that you made an appointment with the realtor to start talking about that dream house of yours. Celebrate that you signed up for that management training that is required for the promotion. Celebrate that you successfully followed your exercise plan for the week.
You know, I always keep a bottle of champagne on hand. That is one of the ways that I can celebrate small wins throughout the week and it doesn’t have to be a super expensive bottle – I mean, I honestly get the $7 prosecco at Costco and just stick it in the back of the fridge so that it’s available whenever I want to celebrate a small win.
So it doesn’t have to be a huge time suck, or a huge money suck. It can be anything from a gold star sticker to a bubble bath to a chocolate bar – what’s a small reward that you can give yourself or the people that you work with to reward a job well done?
I’ve even instituted a Victory List journaling exercise at different times in my life – where every night before bed, I write down at least 3 small wins that I had that day. You could easily work this into your work meetings even, where you spend the first 5 minutes of the meeting asking people to list a small win that either they had or someone else had that week.
These small wins deserve recognition, they deserve acknowledgement, and so when you review these goals and you notice that your behavior is on track to achieve your goals – you have to praise it.
But what happens when the goal is not achieved or the expected behaviors are not happening?
You’ve already established the goal and everyone’s clear about the expectations for the goal but somehow, somewhere the train got off track.
So, now, you need a redirect. Keep in mind, this is not negative feedback. This is just redirecting the behavior that is happening so that you can better orient yourself to succeed.
In order to do this redirect, we need to first clarify again and agree on the goals to make sure that everyone’s still on the same page. Make sure that the expectations are clear and that everyone involved knows what specific behaviors are going to contribute to the overall goal.
Because maybe they weren’t communicated properly the first time around, maybe you thought that everyone was on the same page – but turns out they were actually confused as to what specific behavior changes were required.
So revisit the goal and the behaviors and make sure that you’re all on the same page. Then, you can determine what the difference was between expectations and reality.
What did you think was going to happen? And what actually happened?
Basically, where exactly did things get off track? Because then you can address the specific behavior that didn’t align with the overall goal.
And remember to address it quickly, this is why the periodic review is so important. If you don’t address the behavior soon, the train could go miles off track before you are able to redirect it. Then, the redirecting process is going to take much, much longer to get it back on track.
We are focused on being more collaborative than competitive here. People are going to be more willing to change their behavior if they believe that you are on the same team. It’s not a me versus you situation, it’s an us versus the behavior situation.
Keep in mind here, that we are addressing the specific behavior – not the person that did the behavior. You are not attacking the person who did the behavior, you are not telling them that they are wrong, or that they are worthless or stupid or whatever.
You are collaborating together to determine why that specific behavior was unproductive and how you can redirect to, instead, incorporate a more appropriate behavior that aligns with the agreed upon goals.
You are telling them that you have faith in their ability to improve. You are telling them that they are still valuable and that they are still capable of performing the right behaviors.
You are redirecting someone’s behavior, you are not redirecting someone’s being. There’s a very big difference between the two.
If people feel like you are attacking their being, they’re not going to want to cooperate. They’re not going to be as open to hearing from you, they’re going to disengage and make it much harder to accomplish the shared goal.
And, when you finally get to the end of the redirect and everyone is on the same page and everyone understands what new behaviors are expected – then you need to let it go.
If it comes up again, address it again but do not continually bring it up or hold it over the person’s head. You need to let it go and move on. End of story.
And if a particular person tends to do the same unproductive behaviors over and over again, despite having a clear understanding that those behaviors are not aligning with the overall goal that you all agreed upon – then you need to redirect and find someone else to fill that role. It’s not personal, just find someone else whose behaviors align with the goal.
Alright, so to recap:
First step – clearly state the goal and the expected behaviors that will contribute to that goal.
Second step – periodically review to make sure that the actual behaviors are aligning with the expected behaviors
Third step – if things are on track, offer a praising
Fourth step – if things are not on track, offer a redirect
Fifth step – MOVE ON
With this framework, you and your team members will be able to achieve a lot more. You will be more productive, efficient, and effective. Now, doesn’t that sound enticing?
Think about projects that you’ve worked on in the past where expectations were not clear – it sucked, right?
I have found that, in workplaces where delegation is not handled effectively, employee morale and productivity deteriorates rapidly. When expectations are not clear, employees will either guess at how to do things or constantly pepper management with questions about how to do things. But neither of these methods produce good results.
If they’re guessing, they may or may not produce the right behaviors or results.
If they’re constantly asking management for guidance, then the leaders spend too much of their time micromanaging team members and everyone involved usually ends up feeling resentful.
Can you start to see why effective delegation techniques can make or break a business’s success? That’s exactly why it’s step #4 when creating Sustainable Schedules.
So next time, we’ll be going over Coaching Habits so that you can tap into the brilliance of the people around you. I hope to interweave my personal experiences with the business lessons I learned along the way so that I can paint a full picture for you guys.
And please let me know what you think! I am always open to feedback and love connecting with my audiences.
If you want to learn more, I personally invite you to join us in the Balanced Business Leaders VIP Group Program. In as little as one hour per week, you will walk away with a clear action plan to grow and scale your business sustainably.
Please visit linktr.ee/liminalclarity for more information.
You can find the episode outline, video recording, transcript downloads, related links, etc. below.
And, until next time, love you all, take care, and I hope you have a good day wherever you are.