Whether you’re a leader, boss, manager, supervisor, president, or CEO, you’ll eventually have to delegate and your ability to delegate is essential to mission success. If you’re anything like me, someone who can get carried away and waste precious time attempting to be a perfectionist, you must know the 3 methods below I picked up in the military that drastically changes the way you trust your team to get the job done successfully.
1. Train & Qualify
The best way to delegate without micromanaging is to build trust. Trust can only be built after you train and qualify people, so they not only know what to do and how to do it, but they know your expectations for the process. If you repeatedly have professional issues with the people you delegate to, then it is something wrong with the process used to select, train, and qualify the people you have in their respective positions. You have to trust your team has been trained properly (or train them properly if you need to) and can adapt on their own without you micromanaging them. Train your team, test them on the training, and move on.
2. Commander’s Intent
During my first deployment the facility storing my car was planning to raise my rate on storage by an additional $40 a month. I could afford it, that wasn’t the issue. The issue was honoring what we agreed upon and setting precedence. If I didn’t, what would stop them from making it jump another $40 a couple of months later, or what if all the companies I was paying while overseas decided to raise their bill by $40, now it is a big hit on my account. After my initial email to the car storage facility didn’t receive a response and my calls weren’t returned, after a couple of weeks I got somewhat angry. I felt taken advantage of, as many customers do when they are upset. Here I am in the middle of the ocean, with limited communication and Internet connectivity, and most of my household goods and car are all with one storage company—the same one that I knew many service members in the area used.
Prepping myself to send a final email I definitely wanted to be firm, but I also didn’t want to piss anyone off who had possession of most of my stuff either, so it was a delicate line to tow. My final email that did receive a response simply stated that I did not appreciate no one getting back to me, my contract not being honored, and that I would be sure to let my shipmates know the practice of changing rates while deployed did exist with this company. The email wasn’t meant to be negative either, it just pointed out my perception of the situation and what I would do to make sure there weren’t others getting took.
The company manager emailed me back within hours the same day and after apologizing explained I was on a month-to-month contract where pricing could change depending on availability (of course units weren’t available as an entire strike group of 7,000+ people in the area had deployed), but they would still honor the original terms. The contract was still a bit shady in my mind, but I thanked him and let it go.
While they did not know my job title or who I am personally, it makes no difference, you never know. It’s one thing if you have a delinquent or problematic customer—sometimes their business just isn’t worth it, but to risk losing $40 dollars for a customer you can convert to a longtime loyal customer doesn’t make any business sense. In fact, consider it marketing dollars spent to get your organization’s name out there in a positive light because that small $40 loss (even though it technically wasn’t) could have exponentially increased to a loss of thousands of dollars and potentially put their business at risk after I received my boss’s blessing to out them on our Facebook page of 100,000+ people to warn other service members.
You see how quick that could have gotten out of control for the company. Too often the troops on the ground floor of an organization don’t know or understand the commander’s intent and they make bad decisions accordingly. There are numerous products and companies people have swore off from ever using or going to again because of the poor decision making of the low-level workers who don’t understand the strategy, goals, and foundation the CEO has laid out. Think about the guy or girl at the fast food drive thru window who is willing to lose you another customer for a .30c sauce someone forgot to ask for ahead of time to get ringed up.
Your team should have at least a basic understanding of what the mission is and what the boss wants and it will immediately improve the bottom line.
Remember people are where they are for a reason. I don’t get angry with entry-level workers anymore. Mess up a food order oh well. Can’t give a refund for a mistake on your company’s end, no problem send the manager over. Accidently made whatever mistake and don’t know how to fix it, no sweat, let me see your boss. If they were problem solvers, they would not be making minimum wage, so the issue isn’t with them.
Ensure Commander’s Intent is understood throughout the ranks. The big picture, the end goal, should help shape the means. If your subordinates are in a disagreement with a paying customer in good standing with the organization or a customer who has reach to thousands of people, they must know how to base their decisions off the commander’s intent.
Performance, Metrics, and Climate. Rate performance, identify numerical goals, and ensure the climate of your organization can be sustained. By reviewing these things with your team, they clearly know your expectations and what you consider unacceptable.
Also remember, there is more than one-way of doing things. As long as your ethical, legal, and value standards are not being compromised, allow your people the freedom to get the job done the best way that suits them. If something is taking them extra time or money to accomplish when there are more efficient processes, then yes they should be redirected. But if things are getting done effectively and efficiently, then work on pacifying your OCD.
A traditional practice that the Navy still uses to this day is the way orders are given and carried out by commanding officers. Traditionally when the United States sent a naval vessel on a mission messaging was so slow every decision could not be contemplated with senior command back stateside, so commanding officers of ships and units were given a set of orders and sent on their way to complete the mission as they saw fit. While communication has drastically improved and everyone’s bosses back stateside can receive and communicate orders quickly, they don’t. The traditional method is still used where the commanders screened (trained and qualified) for senior leadership are given their orders (commander’s intent) and sent on their way. Does two way communication and daily, weekly, sometimes up to the minute updates occur, of course, but it is not the normal standard.
There isn’t enough time in the day for you to take everything on, nor should you. Your team is there to take care of the now stuff, so you have time to plan and strategize for the later stuff, but the only way you will be successful as a team is if they understand the 3 ways to win with any team.
What are some things you’ve implemented to win with your team?
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