please

How To Ensure Others Get Stuff Done

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 2 min.

When we lead, sell, and influence others, one of our biggest challenges is having them follow through on things we request of or delegate to them. Here are five things we can do to ensure that what we want done gets done.

  1. Ensure there is a win for them and for us. Let’s understand what makes a win: no guesses allowed.  Let’s specifically discuss why the topic at hand is important to us and to them. Then we can work together to meet their needs and ours. Sometimes, a win for them is just being helpful or acknowledged.
  2. Who, How, When. We make sure we discuss and agree upon who will do what by when. If we are the leader, it’s powerfully helpful to ask them to come up with their own plan for How. It’s also helpful to ask, “Is there anything else I can do to help you with your part of this?”
  3. Prevent obstacles. We consider what might go wrong and plan around those obstacles, together, now.
  4. Confirm understanding. We ask them to summarize–or we can summarize–what we agreed are the conclusions and next steps. And we listen for and seek to correct misunderstandings on both sides.
  5. Review, Retune, Repeat. We agree to check in with each other at a specific date and time. At the agreed time, we review progress, make adjustments to the plan/approach, and book our next review time.

Note how much longer this will take than simply asking for or telling them what we want. And notice how much more effective this will be than the usual request or delegation.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Johan Lange cc

Delegating Trust and Authority

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 1 min.

Delegation requires trust and authority.

We must trust that we have adequately described the problem and the desired outcomes. We must trust that our delegates have understood us and are capable. We must trust that they have the needed resources. And we must trust ourselves that we will be able handle whatever happens–good or bad–and that we can coach them to improve.

Without this trust, our delegates lack authority. Everyone involved can sense when a delegate lacks the authority to do the work. So they back off, discount the chances of success, and withhold support. They do this because they understand that we are holding onto the authority ourselves. This makes it harder to get things done. And more often than not, we end up doing the work we had hoped to delegate.

Trust.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Nguyen Hung Vu cc

wall

Throwing Tasks Over The Wall

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 1 min.

Delegation, especially to people new to us or to the work, is not throwing tasks over the wall with the briefest of outlines of what’s needed. We cannot expect that others will understand what we want, know everything we know, and do things the way we do them. Nor can we blame them when things go awry.

We must set the standards or measures of success, let them give it a try, regularly review their progress against the standards, take time for training, and encourage them to become better and better.

In short order, they will become more competent, confident, and in sync. Then we can start lobbing things their way with assurance that they will do it better than we could.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Iwan Gabovitch cc

delegate

What Delegation Really Means

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 1 min.

Delegation does not mean simply handing over a task. Nor does it mean getting other people to do a task the way we would. It means setting up an environment where they can do it better then we can.

This includes setting the standards or measures of success (“Here’s how we’ll know you’ve done it well… “), letting them give it a try, regularly reviewing their progress against the standards, taking time for training, and encouraging them to become better and better.

Yes, this takes time. But the alternative is worse. The alternative is that we freak out when they do it wrong. We think, “It’s quicker if I do it.” Then we take back the task and continue to do it and all the other tasks ourselves. Don’t we already have enough on our plate?

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: And how can we expect to grow if we keep doing all the tasks ourselves?

 

Today’s photo credit: Carsten Senkfeil cc

delegate

Delegate, Kind Leader

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading
Reading time: 1 min.

Show me someone who is underperforming and I’ll show you someone who very, very likely has not been given clear parameters for success, real-time feedback, coaching, and training, or the time and space to try, fail, learn, and succeed.

Delegate, kind leader, delegate.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Mario Klingemann cc

tempus fugit

Take Time for Training

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 2 min.

“I really can’t delegate this. They can’t do it as well as I can. Since I have to fix whatever they do, it’s faster if I do it myself.”

“I am so busy.”

This is a pernicious trap that keeps us away from the business-building, strategic work that is the leader’s mandate.

Chances are very high that, yes, they can do it as well or better than we can. Our job as leaders includes spending time clearly specifying what makes up the desired end results and training them how to deliver those results.

Try this. For any delegated work that your colleague has not yet mastered,

  • Describe the end result. Say how you’ll know that the work has been done well.
  • Together, pick the first logical bit of work and by when it should done. Schedule a time to review the work together. Remind them to come back to you sooner if they get stuck.
  • When they return with the work (or with a problem they are stuck on), coach them, if necessary, to improve the work they’ve done. Then pick the next chunk of work to complete and by when it should be done.
  • In these coaching sessions, be kind. And be clear about any deficiencies in the work. Take time to understand their perspectives, assumptions, and reasoning so that you can correct more mistakes at the source. Remember to criticize the work compared to the standard you set out. Do not criticize the person.
  • These review and coaching meeting should be relatively short. Keep cycling through these review meetings until they meet the desired end result.

Next time, your colleague will be that much closer to mastery. And soon, their learning will accelerate exponentially as they build upon their growing knowledge and confidence. Over time, we will need to train less and less.

Yes, this takes longer than doing the work ourselves. We may think we don’t have the time. What we really don’t have the time for is further delaying work on our leadership mandate. And further delaying our colleagues’ growth.

Investments in quality and training always pay off handsomely.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Even under a deadline, take time for training. We would do better to renegotiate a deadline than to do the work ourselves.

 

Today’s photo credit: Ferran Cerdans Serra cc

bricks

Leading Has (almost) Nothing To Do With Getting Stuff Done

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 2 min.

Growing up, our adults taught us to get our stuff done. “It’s important,” they all said. We learned how to sleep through the night, eat our food, brush our teeth, get dressed, make our beds, cross streets safely, do our homework, play well with others, cook food, clean clothes, and manage money. We also learned to value, like they do, getting our stuff done.

It turned out that our adults were right. Through our schooling and into our first jobs, we continued to get our stuff done. And we received rewards for doing so.

Then we became leaders. And we probably thought something like, “Wow. I am so good at getting my stuff done that I have been rewarded. I am now in charge of other people getting stuff done, too!”

So here we are today. We likely struggle trying to get our stuff done and make sure everyone else gets their stuff done. Sometimes we delegate. Sometimes we take it on and do it ourselves because it’s faster. Sometimes all we can do is get angry, dejected, or passive.

But we struggle only because no one told us that being a leader has very little to do with getting stuff done. No, indeed. Being a leader is about creating and nurturing an environment where others can get stuff done.

It’s time to value ourselves for and get good at creating such an environment.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: It’s not about the work. It’s not about the work. It’t not about the work.

PPS: Yes, even as leaders, we have our own stuff to get done. But most of it is about building that environment.

 

Today’s photo credit: Jamie Anderson cc

a question

The Right Question to Ask After We Have Delegated Something

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading
Reading time: 1 min.

When we are concerned whether another person can or will follow through on a task she or he has committed to, we often pick the wrong next questions to ask. We ask, “What happens if they don’t? What’s the risk? What’s the exposure?” And so we tend to jump in, try to control things, or do it ourselves.

Of course, we are allowed to wonder whether someone may follow through. But we need not pick up the responsibility ball. For the long-term health and sustainability of ourselves, our organization and our relationship with this individual, the best next question to ask ourselves is, “What does this person need right now in order to fulfill this commitment?”

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Earl – What I Saw 2.0 via photopin cc

heads together

Getting People to Do Stuff When What You Really Want to Do Is Knock Heads Together

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 1 min.

As leaders (with or without title), we sometimes just want to knock heads together. Where we should be celebrating great results, we see mistakes, reactivity, passivity, infighting, lack of follow-through, and lack, it seems, of common sense.

Of course, we know we shouldn’t knock heads together (or yell or curse). If we do that we know we will get active or passive resistance and prolong the problems.

What we really need to do is take the time to teach, coach, and truth-tell. We teach when they don’t get it and lack confidence. We coach (mainly by asking open-ended questions) when they mostly get it and lack confidence. We truth-tell (“You seem to be struggling with this.”) when they don’t get it and think they do get it (over-confidence).

We need not do these things forever. As soon as they get it and are confident, we can set the goals, encourage them, and let them run with it.

So much better than knocking heads together.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Sequoia Hughes via photopin cc

this-or-that

The Choice Between Being the Boss and Being Nice

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading
Reading time: 2 min.

As leaders (with or without title), we struggle with the choice to be the boss or to be nice. If we choose to be nice, then people will like us, conflict will be low, but they will walk all over us or not get stuff done. If we choose to be the boss, then people will do the things we say but not for very long (they will leave or ignore us) because we aren’t nice.

Of course, we can be the boss and be nice.

We can care about people and get them to do stuff. We remember that people’s ultimate happiness (we understand that we and they can set aside momentary comfort for real happiness) comes from being more and more effective, accountable, growing, and free.  We learn what their goals and dreams are and commit to help. We give them accountability and hold them accountable for important things. We allow for errors because they are not the threats they seem to be; they are precious tools to help us all get where we want to go.

These are huge, loving, and business-savvy acts. Another is summoning faith in their and our abilities to do all this.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Lori Greig via photopin cc