Delegation, Communication & Feedback: 3 Critical Keys to Leadership

In this excerpt from his new book, Stupid Enough to Succeed: The Millennial Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Business Hypergrowth, Jeff Naeem shares tips for successful delegation.

Let’s start with the “D” word. You have to let go and trust other people to get things done. Trust their training. (Or train them better!) Here’s how smart delegation can work for you: ENROLL THE EMPLOYEES IN THE SOLUTION: It’s the difference between giving orders and people taking OWNERSHIP of their own plan. Present the goal and make it clear WHERE we need to get to and WHY, so they understand the purpose behind it. Then get them to help figure out HOW to get there. Say, we are HERE now folks, how do we get THERE? Now it’s THEIR PLAN, not mine, and they’re going to want to make sure that THEIR plan is successful.

THE 4-STEP PROCESS TO DELEGATION
THE KEY TO DELEGATION IS TO MAKE IT A REQUEST, NOT A DEMAND. The way to do it is to start with this is why I need to delegate, therefore I needed to get this off my plate. Then say, “This is why I think you’re a good choice.” Then ask, “Are you willing to take that on?” If they say no, then ask, “What do I need to take care of so you can take this on?” If they say just handle “A” and then I can do it, then respond, “Okay, if “A” is done, THEN can you do it?” If they still say no, ask “What ELSE do you need to take this on?” First, enroll them to take it on; then you can talk details and let them ask questions about it.

The Feedback Method
Yes, as the owner, you’re in charge. Still, it works best to ask the employee for permission. Use a method similar to the SBI Feedback Tool developed by The Center for Creative Leadership. “Can I give you some feedback?” (They have to be open to it.) They are responsible for the communication. If they say no, then ask, “Okay, when?” Focus on the THINGS—NOT the intent, NOT the feeling. Only focus on the things that happened when you didn’t do “X.” It can’t be disputable. It has to be indisputable facts. When “X” happened, this is the result. “Can you work on that?” Yes, you can do this same feedback loop for positive reinforcement as well! All feedback should be pretty immediate.

Let’s take a peek at an example of how this works.

  1. The Question…”Can I give you feedback?”
  2. The Behavior… “When you’re on your phone texting during the company meeting…”
  3. The Result…”It distracts other people.”
  4. The Impact…”We don’t get your feedback and would really love to hear what you have to say.”

Most important, give feedback without judgment. Establish a communication schedule:

  • Hold a daily huddle
  • Hold a weekly meeting for performance coaching and TRAINING
  • Quarterly review what the employees said they would improve and ask, “Where are you with that?” Look for a 70–80% increase in those areas.

As we all know, lack of communication leads to problems. Enforcing the policies needs to happen, but enforcement is a reaction to the problem; it doesn’t correct the problem. The owner has to fix it when you have a lack of commitment to one another. You can never assume what morale is—you have to find out and then adjust your perception to the reality. It’s your responsibility to get people to play nicely in the sandbox. (Give ’em a shovel, but don’t let ’em bury one another.)

We said it before, but it bears repeating. Getting employees’ buy-in to your mission is critical to your success. We are here —— >we need to get to there. Why? The reason we need to get to there is that we don’t have the house we want, the car we want, the money we want, the benefits we want; so it’s imperative now to talk about how we are going to do that.

Just because you have a clear vision of your company and where you want to take it doesn’t mean that everyone else on the team is on board with it. Besides communicating that vision, in order to get them on board, you also have to live it. All of your actions need to be in line and congruent with the vision you espouse. Your team also needs to know why the vision is what it is and why they should care. You have to look at your team and think if you were in their shoes, why should they buy into your master plan? When it comes to procedures, step away. Have the staff prepare the checklists and then they do audits on themselves. There’s a check list and they meet to monitor themselves. This process builds trust—that you, the owner, trust them to do it. Put out a jar of honey. Pull them into the solution.

Jeff Naeem is the principal of Junk-A-Haulics and a board member of the EOA. 

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