It’s time to rethink delegation.
Too often this means distributing routine tasks so we can focus on bigger projects. But that’s not delegating — that’s unloading busywork. Delegation should be strategic. If you’re not taking advantage of employees’ skills, perspectives, and interests, you’re missing opportunities to build your team and your business.
A 2013 survey reported 53% of business owners believe delegating would grow their business over 20% — yet less than 15% say they already assign everything they should. We know delegating helps our bottom line, but we’re stuck on how to do it well.
According to the book Lincoln on Leadership, Abraham Lincoln’s delegation strategy included three main concepts: persuade, support, encourage. Although much has changed since the 1860s (indoor plumbing for one!), his effective techniques serve as the following timeless lessons for us all.
1. Persuade Through Shared Vision.
William Seward, Secretary of State, believed Lincoln was “totally unqualified and incompetent.” Undeterred, Lincoln earned Seward’s respect. They visited troops, discussed strategies, and shared patriotic vision. Lincoln convinced Seward they shared values, and then fully tasked international diplomacy to demonstrate trust in Seward.
On a regular basis, you probably know by heart that team spirit is very important and that your employees need to come together as a team in order to be successful in whatever branch of business you may be. Even when job applicants submit in a resume, they’re always careful to include a mention that they’re team players and consider what they can bring to the business to be imperative to the team’s overall success. But simply being supportive within a team is not enough. You also need to be able to step up and take all the necessary steps to make the team efficient. Every team has many members and personality types and leading and managing this kind of team isn’t easy to do either. If you want to be successful, you need to inspire your team to reach that point along with you.
Know how to put the team together.
How do you know what kinds of people will best work with you and what characteristics you need to have on board to help out? You can’t compose a team consisting solely of just managers – everyone would be fighting each other to take the reins of the project at all times! If you aren’t even sure of what you should be doing within a team, try taking a test with Belbin.com to find out more about what role is perfect for you and then give the same test to your employees to take for themselves too. You may know your employees well enough already to ensure you don’t need to take this kind of test, but be sure to note that when you assemble the team everyone is able and willing to work together to meet the same goal.
There is no denying that your sales team can either make or break your business. If the members of the team hit their marks, then success is going to be in abundance for the entire team. But if one team member is unable to uphold their responsibilities, that requires everyone else to work even harder.
While this competitive drive can sometimes be exactly what a business needs to grow, the fierce competition that comes with working in sales can sometimes lead to a loss in motivation among its team members. Seeing the same person always surpass their sales goals can be disheartening to other members who are having a hard time hitting the mark. That is why keeping your entire sales team motivated matters so that everyone can continue to do their best and keep the company moving forward.
Who doesn’t love summer? The long days, sunshine, pool time, barbecues and relaxing vacations are a welcome break from the hard winter most of the U.S. experienced earlier this year. Some seasonal businesses, such as ice cream shops and pool salesmen, thrive during warm months, but for others, the sun-filled season comes with a sense of anxiety. Dipping sales, sinking productivity and low morale all contribute to the dreaded summer slump. But by being proactive and making some changes in the way you approach business, it could turn your seasonal slowdown into a sunny success.
1. Modify your outreach times.
Many people spend summer days outdoors and don’t go home until later in the evening. If you want your marketing messages to be seen and heard, send them early in the morning or later at night, when more people will be home.
2. Embrace the good weather.
No one likes to be cooped up inside on sunny days (especially here in Seattle, where such days are fleeting). Encourage employees to enjoy the weather and go outside for breaks or walks. You can even host meetings outdoors, or entire company outings. The more you let your employees spend time outside, the less they’ll dream of it while inside.
You don’t have the ability to always physically oversee and monitor their progress, so measuring effectiveness and keeping open lines of communication is very important. If you introduce a framework and a structure that allows for easy communication and measure output, telecommuters can be just as effective as if you’re in regular physical contact.
What should be measured and how do you do it?
Let’s start with the obvious one – productivity: You can virtually drop into your staff’s office every day – or as often as you like – using a program that will track remote workers’ activity, including typed keystrokes, internet history, emails sent and received, webcam shots in addition to taking periodic screenshots throughout their workday. A variety of activity tracking software exists to accommodate whatever your specific needs are and this can help improve accountability and transparency to your virtual office. This also helps you quantify exactly how much time the workload of each project is taking.
The second – and equally important quantitative measure that both you and your staff need to keep track of – is time management. Using shift scheduling software not only helps employees and managers stay on top of their schedules and payroll, but it also helps define how long employees need to dedicate to a specific task as well as tracking the progress being made or that has to be made for you to reach your goals and accomplish your projects.
I’ve thought long and hard but I just can’t think of a large, successful company that does not implement performance management. Famously, Jack Welch, CEO of GE, was a huge advocate of it. The reason is probably fairly obvious. Performance management helps businesses achieve results. How so? By ensuring that all employees are performing at their best and pushing in the same direction.
So why don’t start-ups embrace performance management? Typically, there are a number of perceived barriers and questions small businesses have about how it’s done. How do you set up the process? Do you need an expensive system to manage it? Is it too much effort for the ROI (return on investment) in the end?
The most important element to improving employee productivity in the workplace revolves around creating an atmosphere where an employee feels most at home. We recently noticed a huge upswing in small business owners embracing the start-up culture aesthetic – by this, we mean wearing flip flops to work, bringing pets along for the ride, and the controversial “work from home” policy. And truth be told, all of these definitely work in giving employee productivity the kick it needs. However, the most important element that business owners often overlook is the importance of ensuring that everyone gets along and here are a few hacks that can help workplaces out right now.
1) Setting The Thermostat At The Right Temperature
Nothing distracts an employee more than when others hover around them trying to fix the thermostat. For some, it may be too cold and for others it may be too hot. How do we set the right temperature? We recommend erring on the side of caution: research shows that when there is a cool atmosphere, employee productivity dramatically improves. Which means a business owner is better off creating a cooler atmosphere over a heated one, and recommending sweaters and blankets for employees who might find it too cold. This also means making sure the business has a working air conditioner and regular maintenance checks.
Not everybody is attracted by prospect of jobs with fat pay packages, especially if they have a desire to live life on own terms. There are numerous examples of people starting small sized ventures at home which blossomed into large companies in long run. PC giant HP’s founders started operating from a garage in Palo Alto and it grew into one of the world’s leading IT giants. If you have an entrepreneur’s spirit and teamwork and customer service skills, starting up your own business may be the best option.
However, you may want to try venturing into lesser known niche areas to make a mark for yourself and the company. Rather than joining an industry laden with cutthroat competition, changing taste of consumers and other hiccups, you may tread into uncharted territories and tap the potential.
2013 was a great year for Guidant. We celebrated our tenth anniversary, launched a new website and helped hundreds of people realize their business ownership dreams. As the year comes to a close it’s tempting to mentally check out and enjoy the social parts of the season. But I’ve found that the quieter time that comes with people being on vacation is perfect for doing some deep thinking about want I want to accomplish in the coming year. Here are my resolutions for 2014:
1. Provide even greater value to our clients through education.
Knowledge is power, and when people have the facts about the different ways they can become business owners, they are empowered to choose what’s right for them. Our new website has a section called “Study Hall” devoted to educating would-be business owners.
2. Raise the awareness of Rollovers as Business Startups (ROBS).
The greatest challenge of our business is that potential business owners have either never heard of ROBS, or, because of its complexity make the faulty assumption that there is something quasi-legal about it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
By David Nilssen
This time of year we’re told to count our blessings and be thankful. Gratitude is wonderful, but giving thanks and giving back are even more important. Here are some suggestions for walking the walk.
Giving to Charity
You’ll always be able to find an excuse for not donating time or money to those less fortunate. From cynicism about administrative costs for large charities to a blame-the-victim mentality, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the needy. But taking five minutes to make an online donation or a few hours to volunteer your time is good for your community, your business, and your self-worth. It just feels right. At Guidant, we hold food drives for local organizations, empower future entrepreneurs through Youth Ventures, and participate in races and walks for the American Cancer Society.