You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 54. Today, we’re continuing to talk all about how to delegate. Specifically, the process you want to follow to do it effectively. You ready? Let’s go.
Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach Olivia Vizachero.
Well, hello there. How are you? Can you believe it’s April already? I really can’t get over it, this year is flying by. I ended Q1, of 2023, one of the best ways I know how. I spent it up north with friends of mine. And now, I’m back in Detroit, and ready for an exciting week before I head to Mexico next week, for the Women in Trial Travel Summit. Which I’m super excited to be at. I get to speak with an amazing panel of women.
So, if you’re going to be there, reach out to me so we can meet up. Hopefully you are going to be there, I would love to see you. And if you’re not going to be, you can always come to my next live event, which is going to be in Montana, in August, for the next round of The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind.
Hopefully your Q1 was as exciting and as wonderful as mine. I had a great Q1. I normally don’t think in quarters, that’s more of a business industry thing than a legal industry thing, at least on the litigation side, which is what I used to practice. I think my transactional attorney clients think more in terms of quarters than I do.
But my Q1 was excellent, pretty frenzied, and very full. And my Q2 is lining up to look the exact same way, in fact, probably even a little bit busier, if I can believe that. I’m having a hard time believing that. But I do think that is going to be how it pans out.
Now, if you feel busy busier than you’d like to be, then today’s episode is for you. Remember, we are continuing the conversation that we started last week in the first of a two-part series on how to delegate. So, last week, I talked all about the mistakes that people commonly make when it comes to delegating; I went through 12 of them. And today, we’re going to talk about the process you want to follow instead, in order to avoid those pitfalls, avoid those mistakes, and to be able to delegate really effectively.
Because once you master the skill set of how to delegate effectively, it’s such a game changer for your practice. It’s going to make your work life more enjoyable. You’re going to be much more productive and efficient with what you work on. And you’re really going to be able to focus on the work that is most meaningful for you to do. Rather than the small tasks that don’t make sense, it’s not in your zone of genius for you to be working on those items. We want to free you up to do your best, most meaningful work.
So, I’m going to give you the process that you can follow in order to do that, in order to create those results for yourself on the back end or on the other side of delegating. Now, step one, and this should come as no surprise to you. Step one is about cultivating the right mindset from which you take action and delegate.
You want to check in with yourself and really identify the negative emotions that you’re currently feeling right now when it comes to delegating. Do you feel frustrated when you think about it? Do you feel annoyed? Maybe a huge sense of disappointment or defeat comes up for you? Maybe you feel resentful or angry? Or this is a common one too, common emotions, feeling very entitled or feeling very righteous.
If those are emotions that you commonly experience when it comes to delegating work to other people, I want you to check in with yourself. What thoughts are you thinking that are making you feel those emotions? We always have to start by creating awareness first, so we understand what we’re currently thinking and how it’s causing us to feel.
Remember, we want to be operating within a state of emotional adulthood. And emotional adulthood is where we claim responsibility for our own emotions. We acknowledge that we are creating them with our thinking. We’re never blaming other people for how we feel. When we blame other people for how we feel we’re in a state of emotional childhood, not emotional adulthood. And we want to make sure, as adults, we’re operating from emotional adulthood, we’re owning our emotional experience. We’re taking response ability for it; we’re never operating from that state of blame.
Now, this is a challenge for a lot of people. When it comes to delegating, they’ve really bought into the concept that other people are the cause of their negative emotions, and that is never the case. So, I want you to remember, never blame your team members for how you’re feeling. You always own that you’re creating your own emotional experience, because of the thoughts you’re choosing to think.
I know that’s a tough one for people. It doesn’t feel like you’re choosing your thoughts, but I promise you, you are choosing them. You get to choose better ones, ones that serve you more than what you’re currently thinking. So, we want to create awareness. What are you currently thinking?
I want you to break this down into two different buckets of thoughts. First, there’s your thinking about delegating itself, the activity of delegating work to other people. Do a quick thought download; what are all the thoughts you think about delegating? And then, once you’ve identified those thoughts, you can ask yourself: When I think each thought, what’s the one-word emotion that I feel?
You should start to identify the negative feelings that correspond to the negative thoughts that you’re currently thinking. And if you’re already thinking positive thoughts about delegating, amazing. Keep those thoughts, we want to use those to fuel you forward as you embark on this process.
But if you aren’t in a positive state of mind yet, when it comes to delegating, that’s not a problem, we just need to get you there. We want to first create awareness as to what you’re currently thinking about delegating, so we can cultivate the mindset that serves you instead.
In addition to identifying the thoughts that you’re thinking about delegating itself, I also want you to do a thought download about the person you’re delegating the work to, whoever that person is for you. Maybe it’s an associate, maybe it’s a particular associate of the several that you work with, maybe it’s an assistant, maybe it’s a paralegal, maybe it’s a contractor outside of your organization.
Whoever it is, I just want you to do a thought download and identify what are all of the thoughts that you think about this person. See where your negative thoughts about them come into play and figure out how you feel when you think each one of those thoughts. Now, you should have two thought downloads. And if you need to pause the episode in order to complete that exercise, go ahead and do that right now. I’ll be right here waiting for you when you come back.
All right, you’ve got your thought downloads, and you should have created some awareness as to why you feel the feelings that you feel when it comes to delegating generally or delegating to this specific person. Now, I want you to be honest with yourself, do these thoughts serve you?
Remember, how we feel determines how we act. So, if you’re feeling a negative feeling, you’re going to take no action or a negative action. If you tend to not delegate, it’s because you’re feeling these feelings, and you’re either avoiding them or you’re reacting to them in some way. What we want to do instead, is we want to cultivate the mindset and the emotional state that supports you delegating to this person.
So, we want to start to think, what do you need to be thinking instead? The best way to identify the thoughts that you need to be thinking is by starting with the feelings that you need to feel. What are some of the positive emotions that you want to feel in order to delegate effectively?
Remember, your feelings are going to fuel you forward. So, maybe you want to feel competent, or committed, or capable. Maybe you want to feel determined, or trusting is a big one here. Maybe you want to feel certain or abundant, especially when it comes to time; that you have enough of it. Maybe you want to feel grounded or calm or in control.
And the big one that I think definitely ties in here, is feeling resolved. Right? And not being wishy-washy about whether or not you’re going to embark on the journey of delegating work to other people. But being really resolved that this is something that you’re going to do no matter what.
As you start to identify the feelings that you want to feel, that you need to feel, in order to delegate effectively and to stick with this process, and troubleshoot it, evaluate, and take action, audit, and adapt, over and over and over again until you’re doing this very effectively.
Once you identify those feelings, we can then work backwards and identify the thoughts you would need to think in order to feel those emotions. So, maybe instead of all the negative thoughts that you’re currently thinking, negative thoughts like, “I don’t have time. It’s going to be a waste of my time. This will never work. This person’s incompetent. They’ll never be able to figure it out. They’re lazy. They don’t care about doing a good job. It’s easier if I just do this myself.”
All of those thoughts are not going to serve you, right? You’re definitely going to feel all those negative emotions I listed a moment ago. And then you’re not going to follow through with delegating, you’re going to continue to do the work yourself, you’re not going to pass it off, you’re not going to embark on this process, you’re going to either not get started at all, or you’re going to start and then get frustrated and quit halfway through.
So, instead of that line of thinking, you need to replace those thoughts with thoughts that serve you, and fuel you forward, to get you to delegate effectively. You need to be thinking thoughts like, “It’s worth my time. This will work.” Even if you don’t think it’ll be easy, you can choose to believe that it will be worth it. You could also choose to believe it’s not going to be as hard as I think it is. You can think that your team member is competent.
That they care that they’re in this with you, that they’re committed to figuring this out, that you just have to lead them, and that you’re capable of leading them effectively. You can choose to believe that they’ll figure it out, that they’re more than capable. You can choose to believe that you have the time to delegate. I also, this would make me feel resolved, but really deciding ahead of time that this is where your growth is.
One of the quotes that I love from a preacher, T.D. Jakes, he says, “New levels bring new devils.” For my people who are continuing to excel and succeed within their work environment, as you start to supervise other people, this is where your growth is. It’s not growing to just continue to do everything yourself, you’ve already mastered the skill set of doing the work yourself.
So, your next level of growth is learning how to delegate it and give instruction to other people, and to train them and to supervise them in order to get them to be successful at doing that work instead of you. You get to choose to feel resolved by thinking, “This is where my growth is.” If you’re thinking these thoughts, you’re going to cultivate a completely different list of emotions; they’re going to be much more positive.
And they’re going to drive you to delegate to commit to this process. To commit to figuring it out, even if it’s bumpy in the beginning. But to ultimately get to a place where you’re able to effectively assign work to other people, supervise the completion of it, and free yourself up to do other things with your time.
All right, that’s step one, we want to cultivate the mindset that you need to have in order to delegate. We want those thoughts to be fueling you forward.
Step two, you have to make time for delegating. And this breaks into two separate categories. First, you need to make time to plan your delegation for the week. I want you to pick time each week, and you can do this every night if that’s what works for you, or just once a week. But I want you to carve out time where you think about the work that you have on your plate, and you identify the tasks that you want to delegate.
We have to build the planning into your schedule, because if you don’t plan for this time, you’re never going to make this time. You’re just going to be running around spinning the plates, playing Whack-a-Mole, putting out fires, and triaging everything rather than being really intentional with your time and setting yourself up to delegate effectively. All right? So, carve out time for you to do this planning.
I also want to encourage you to review the past week. Look at what you could have delegated. Review all the different ways that you spent your time. And if I forced you to delegate half of the work that you did, which half would you delegate? What would you do? What would you not do?
The reason that I give this instruction is so many people only carve out a sliver of the work that’s on their plate. And they never really learn how to delegate in a really comprehensive manner. They’re always just giving crumbs to whoever is assisting them.
I want to encourage you to be much more open minded with the work that you have and thinking about; how can I delegate it? Who would I delegate it to? So, carve out time where you’re able to think about the work you have on your plate. and plan what you’re going to delegate ahead of time.
Step number three is the second part of this planning phase, which is scheduling standing meetings. I want you to schedule meetings with your team members to assign the work to them. I want you to schedule standing meetings that create a time and place for those team members to ask you questions about the work. And then, I want you to schedule standing meetings for the review of their work product.
So, this will be twofold, scheduling time for you to review the work product. You want to make sure that’s built into your schedule. And then to schedule time to review their work product with them. Where you’re giving them feedback, and you’re giving them additional instructions so they’re able to go off and make changes, tweak their work product, and flip it back to you. Again, you will also need time to review the finished product and decide, do we need to make any additional changes or is this finalized and good to go?
So, step number three is making sure you’ve got that time carved out on your calendar and protected so you’ve set yourself up to have enough time to delegate and address all the different phases of delegating a project. All right?
Now step four, you want to get clear on what you want before you assign the project. And in order to do this, I want you to think about the project. I want you to walk through every single step in your mind, and list out all the things that you would do if you were the one to do it.
So often, I see people believe that they’re being clear, and they actually aren’t being clear when they’re assigning work to another person. They’re leaving out all the things that we just assume other people know to do, that people actually don’t know to do. So, I want to encourage you and challenge you, this is where you can really improve here.
If you’re taking radical ownership over what’s not working when it comes to delegating, this is an area where you can substantially improve. You can become so much more clear about what it is that you’re expecting. So, take your time, be thoughtful, figure out exactly what you want.
A good rule of thumb that I practice, and I teach this to my clients as well, you should be able to have another person come in and replace you, and they should be able to deliver the work product exactly how you want. They should be able to communicate what you want and make sure that you receive the work product that you desire.
So, if I come into your life, I should be able to look at your instructions and make sure that I communicate those instructions to the person who the work is being delegated to. Your instructions should be so clear and so specific, that I can come in and delegate this task for you, and you should be able to get the work product back that you want. All right?
It should be to the point where we could come in, basically with a clipboard, and check off, did this person do this? “Yes.” Did this person do that? “Yes.” Did this person do this too? “Yes.” It should be very specific and measurable.
Now, once you’ve gotten clear on what you want, you know exactly what your expectations are for the project, you’ve walked through every step, you have clear instructions, to the point where a monkey would be able to do it, for lack of a better way to explain it, then I want you to find the right team member for the job.
So many people skip this step. This is step number five. You want to find the right team member for the job. Here’s how you do that. I don’t want you to just assume it’s the person that you’ve been delegating to in the past. You have to start by figuring out whether the person that you want to assign the work to has capacity to do the work. And the best way to figure this out is to ask them.
And you have to be on to the people that work for you, or who work with you. Are they people pleasing you? Are they just telling you what you want to hear? That’s not going to serve you, and that’s not going to serve them if they don’t actually have the capacity to do the work. So, I want you to ask someone if they have capacity.
And then I also want you to ask them what else are they working on, and when are those deadlines for those other projects that they have on their plate. I want you to help them determine if they have capacity to do the work.
Now, not everyone agrees on what capacity means or what “enough” work is. I want you to trust the people that work for you or with you. If they say they don’t have capacity, believe them. Even if you disagree, and you think they could be doing more, we want to make sure we take people at their no.
If someone says no to you, you have no idea what they have going on. You don’t know what their life is like outside of work. You don’t know what they’re struggling with at work. You don’t know what’s coming around the bend for them, on upcoming projects that they have on their plate. I want you to trust, if they tell you that they don’t have capacity.
Again, this is also why you want to be asking these more meaningful, deeper questions about what else are they working on. Because, especially with new associates or other new employees, they might believe they have the capacity. Because people horrifically underestimate how long projects will take them. And this is where you can leverage your own expertise to figure out that they actually don’t have capacity, because they’re thinking they can finish this other work in a fraction of the time that it is actually going to take them.
If that’s the case, you can help them identify where their planning is deficient, and you can help them course correct, so they’re actually making much more informed decisions about the commitments they make and the work that they take on.
All right, the next step is super simple. You’re going to delegate the task, and you want to use those very specific, clear instructions that you identified in the previous step. You want to communicate those very clearly to the person you’re delegating the work to.
Now, there are ways that you can ensure everyone’s on the same page. So, you might want to give out written instructions, in addition to meeting with someone in person or over the phone. A task might be communicated most effectively over the phone, though. Think about how you read emails and instructions, right? One of the things that I teach is that emails have no tone. But people bring their messy minds into their inboxes. So, people read tone into emails.
It may be much more effective for you to talk about projects and assignments over the phone or face-to-face. You can eliminate a lot of the confusion, and make sure everyone’s on the same page. I want you to think about what are the best practices that you can implement when it comes to actually delegating the task.
Now, the next step, you want to build time in for questions and review. People always cut themselves too short and don’t leave enough time for this, and it makes the delegation process extremely unpleasant because you end up being rushed on the back end.
This is when you don’t follow through and you don’t commit to the process. You end up jumping in, taking it back, finishing the project yourself. You don’t communicate the feedback. You don’t give them another opportunity to change and correct their mistakes in order for them to learn and really improve. You end up doing the bulk of the work, especially the heavy lifting at the end.
We don’t want that to be what happens, it’s going to make for a really unpleasant delegation experience, both for you and for the person that you delegated the initial tasks to. They’re going to feel badly because they’re likely going to be thinking negative thoughts, both about the experience and themselves. We want to avoid all of that.
So, build in time for questions and review. I like to think about, when is the task or assignment due? And work backwards from there. I want to make sure that you assume that it’s not going to go perfectly. It’s so easy for people to indulge in perfectionistic planning when it comes to this. And we don’t give ourselves enough time because we plan in a way where everything has to go best-case scenario in order for our timeline to work.
I want you to resist the urge to do that. You want to almost plan worst-case scenario, so you build in plenty of buffer time. Assume that people are going to have questions. Also, force them to ask you questions. Create those standing meetings, where you make it very clear that the expectation is that they come with questions. And if they don’t come with questions, ask them questions in order to illuminate where they might be confused, where they’re getting stuck.
Really create some structure here so people know how to navigate having worked delegated to them from you. So, build in time for questions, and then build in time for review, both for you to review the work product and then for you to communicate feedback after you’ve done that review.
This is probably going to, or it should, include additional assignments to this person. I don’t want you fixing their mistakes, I want them fixing their mistakes, so they learn from their mistakes. Also, this teaches people to be more careful on the front end. If they know they’re going to be forced to fix their own mistakes, they’re going to make less of them. Maybe not at first, but over time.
If they know you’re going to hold them accountable for the work products that they turn into you, they’re going to be more diligent about proofreading. I have a belief that people don’t like to waste their own time, so they’re going to be more careful if they know that they’re going to have to deal with the consequences of deficient work, they’re much less likely to turn into efficient work product.
If you constantly solve their problems for them, they’re going to bank on the fact that you will continue to do that. So, if you want client-ready work product delivered to you, and every time you don’t get client-ready work product, flip it back to them and be clear. What do you want them to change? What do you want them to do differently?
You can use and learn, from getting work product that you don’t love back, you can learn from that and say, “Where wasn’t I clear? What else could I have communicated in my instructions, in order to prevent this from happening the next time? And you can build that into the assigning phase of the delegation process.
All right, step eight, is you want to empower team members to answer their own questions so you can teach them your analysis. You’ve built in time for them to ask questions, and when they do have questions, rather than spoon feeding them the answers, you want to force them to answer their own questions.
First, I mentioned this in the last episode, this is going to be very uncomfortable for the people that you delegate work to. I don’t care, let them be uncomfortable. Let them feel uncomfortable, it is going to help them become so much more confident in their abilities in the long run. You have to teach your thought process and the only way to do that is for you to see their thought processes.
When they answer their own questions first, they have to be resourceful, figure things out, and problem-solve rather than being completely reliant and dependent on you. And then, you can see where their thinking, where their analysis goes off the rails, and you can teach them how you think about it, and how you come to a different conclusion instead.
You teach them your analysis, so over time people can start to think like you, so you can delegate more stuff to them. And they’ll have fewer questions because they’ll know and be less reliant on you. They’ll know how you think, they’ll know how you address these issues when they arise, and they’ll know how you approach these problems. That’s what we want.
That’s the long game of delegating. We’re building your dream team that can really stand in for you rather than depending on you to answer their questions and solve problems for them.
Okay, the next step is you want to follow through, both individually on each task and in the long term. It’s going to be really tempting, especially at first, when you don’t get work product back that you love, to quit halfway through an assignment or halfway through the delegation journey. You decide that you’re going to embark on it, you’re going to start delegating, it’s really going to make a difference, and then it doesn’t go smoothly, so you quit.
You end up feeling very impatient and frustrated, and it creates a negative result, because you give up, you don’t stay committed to the process. I want to make sure that you follow through. So, you really want to reframe your thinking, “This isn’t something we’re doing for a short-term benefit.” It’s something that you’re doing for your long-term benefit, for the rewards that come from delegating over time.
In order to reap those benefits, you have to commit to following through on the individual assignments that you delegate, start to finish, allowing the person that you’re delegating the work to, to finish the task rather than you finishing it. And committing to sticking with this process over and over and over again, over time. So, continuing to delegate work to this person and to troubleshooting.
Which brings me to the next step, which is evaluating. But you want to make sure that you’re committed to this; you’re not quitting, you’re not giving up, you’re not throwing in the towel; just because it doesn’t go smoothly in the beginning. That you’re going to keep doing this with the person that you’re assigning the work to, in order to make consistent improvements and get better and better. To create the team that can really support you.
All right, the next step is evaluating, like I just said. You want to do a couple things here. Number one, you want to use my really simple evaluation process, only three questions: What worked? What didn’t work? And what would you do differently? I want you to have a consistent framework for how you evaluate.
So, what is it that you look for? Come up with some standard measurements or criteria that you use in these evaluations. Otherwise, you’re going to evaluate very arbitrarily, very subjectively. And it’s going to lead to really inconsistent judgments, viewpoints, and evaluations; we don’t want that. We want to make sure that you stay unbiased.
If you’re not using a consistent framework for your evaluations, and you’re not looking at certain metrics, across all evaluations, if you have a negative opinion of one person, you’re going to be much more likely to let that negative opinion of them impact your evaluation. We don’t want that. We want you to be really unbiased in the evaluations that you conduct. So, come up with the consistent framework that you want to use in your evaluations.
This is going to help keep you really honest about, both someone’s progress and about someone’s struggle, and be consistent in your evaluation from team member to team member. I also want to make sure that you measure progress. It can be really easy to just focus on what’s not working and continue to be frustrated, but we want to make sure that we celebrate the improvements as we experience them. So, make sure you’re measuring progress, too.
All right, once you’ve conducted an evaluation, the next step for delegating is that you want to communicate feedback. And you want to make sure you’re communicating feedback from a clean place. You want to, again, check in with yourself and how are you feeling. What emotions are coming up for you? Are they positive? Are they negative?
If they’re negative, you don’t want to give feedback from that emotional state. You want to make sure you get yourself to a much cleaner place before you have that conversation. So, can you get to curious? Can you get to understanding? Can you get to grounded? Can you get to calm? Can you get to accepting? Those are some of the emotions that you want to make sure you cultivate before you give feedback.
Now, once you’re there, you can communicate your feedback. What worked? You always start with that to help encourage people. And then, what didn’t work? And what would you need to do differently? I’m going to talk a little bit more about that in a second.
As you’re giving feedback, in order to make sure you’re giving it from a clean place, I want to make sure that you’re not making assumptions. If you don’t have enough information to come up with the reason that someone did what they did or didn’t do what they were supposed to do, don’t make an assumption. I want you to ask questions and figure out what went wrong. What led to the problem in the first place?
I see so commonly; people make an assumption that the person that they delegated the work to simply doesn’t care. And I promise you, that’s not it. Most people give a fuck, all right? And most people are competent, they’re smart, they can figure things out. They just need the proper instruction. So, if it’s not that they don’t care, and it’s not that they’re stupid, what else might it be?
If it’s not that they’re lazy, what else might it be? I want you to operate from that assumption. That it’s not those negative things, it’s something else. What else might it be? And you can bring that mindset, that curiosity, with you into problem solving with them.
I also want to just call out, you’re going to have a desire to avoid these uncomfortable conversations, that’s normal. We just want to resist the urge to avoid them. We want to make sure that you’re engaging in these “uncomfortable” conversations. Now, they’re only uncomfortable because of how you’re thinking about them. But if it’s challenging for you to think about these conversations in a different way, that’s okay. You can just feel uncomfortable and have them anyways.
So, you want to make sure that you have an honest, candid conversation, giving helpful feedback. Remember, shaming someone doesn’t work. I also just had this conversation with a client recently, we were talking about how unhelpful it is for someone to give the feedback, “Do better. You need to do a better job.” If people knew how to do a better job, they’d be doing it right now.
Assume that they don’t know how to do a better job. What needs to change? What else needs to happen? What else does someone need? What kind of support do they need? What learning do they need to do in order for them to do a better job? We want to make sure the feedback that we’re giving is helpful, not unhelpful.
If someone’s likely to walk away from a conversation with a negative emotion, it’s not going to create a positive result. So, we want to make sure that people feel encouraged, they feel supported. Now, we cannot control whether another person feels a particular feeling, but you can control your energy and how you show up to a conversation.
You want to be showing up in the cleanest way possible, in the most collaborative way possible, in the most curious way possible. It’s totally going to change the nature of these conversations; where you’re giving feedback, where you’re working with a team member in order to get them to improve.
All right, and the last step, you want to get curious, and problem solve with the person that you’re delegating the work to. If you want to solve the problem, and you should want to solve the problem… If you’re working with someone and you’re on this delegation journey, you don’t want to quit, like I said a moment ago. You want to solve this problem, and you want to be working with your team member to solve it.
So, check in with yourself again. How are you feeling? You may, at this point in the process, still be feeling a little entitled, and feeling judgmental over the person that you’re working with. I need you to drop those negative emotions. The entitlement and the judgment have to go, and I want you to tune in to an emotion that serves you in this moment. So, understanding, accepting, helpful, supportive, curious, committed, convicted. Resourceful is another really good one here.
And I need you to cultivate a sense of caring. I need you to actually give a fuck about the outcome of this delegation journey with the staff member, with the team member that you’re working with. I want you to have some skin in the game. I want you to care about the outcome. I want you to be committed to them getting it. All right?
From there, it’s very easy to stay in entitlement and judgment, and just lean back, opt out of rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. But that is not going to create the result that you ultimately want to create when it comes to delegation. So, I need you to actually care from that place of actually caring. Whether or not someone figures this out or not.
Whether they make it to the other side, whether they get it, whether it clicks, I want you to get curious and ask them what’s going on. Identify the underlying problems. You know, there are a lot of different problems that come up when it comes to delegating. Some big ones that I see; missed deadlines, not following directions, not coming to talk to you when people are stuck, a lack of attention to detail; lots of errors in the work product.
I want you to have a curious, honest, and open caring conversation with the person that you’re delegating the work to. “What’s going on? What happened here? Why did this happen?” Identify the underlying problems. You want to really understand your team. Why did they do what they do?
One trick that I utilize here is by getting clients of mine to answer the question “why” five times. When you ask the question “why” and you answer it, and then whatever your answer is, you ask “why” again, and you do that five different times, you’re normally able to come up with so much awareness and so much insight that you wouldn’t have originally received just from answering the question once. Okay?
You can do this with your team. You can ask and answer the question “why,” and you can have them ask and answer the question “why”. So, if someone made a mistake, you can ask them, “Why did you make the mistake?” They’re going to say, “Oh, I was just, you know, I was careless.” “Okay, well, why? Why were you careless?” “Oh, well, I felt rushed.”
“Okay, well, why did you feel rushed?” “Because I overcommitted myself.” “Okay, well, why did you overcommit yourself to doing more work in a given period of time than you had time to do?” “Well, because I was afraid to say no.” “Okay, well, why were you afraid to say no?” Because of whatever reason, right?
When you go down that rabbit hole of “why” times five, you’re able to get so much more insight that you can leverage to solve some of these problems. Maybe the person needs to work on not people pleasing and communicating their capacity to the people that they’re working with, better than they currently are.
Or maybe the person just needs to slow down and remember that what actually is true is that the faster they go, the longer a task takes them. Because they make mistakes, and they have to go back and fix those mistakes. Rather than going slow and steady the first time and getting through it in a much more accurate way, right from the get-go.
You want to make sure you’re understanding your team. Operate from that curiosity. Figure out what’s going on, and then come up with a solution together. I want you to get their buy-in. If you just tell them what they need to do to improve, without their buy-in, it’s probably going to go in one ear and out the other, or they’re not going to think that that’s actually going to make the difference.
So, you want this to be a collaborative process. What are they going to do? Ask them. Help them come up with their own plan for how they’re going to remedy the problems that are existing at that time. And then from there, implement the solutions. Maybe it’s something you need to do differently. Maybe it’s something they need to do differently. Maybe it’s something that y’all both need to do differently. Okay?
Whatever that is, I want you to come up with those solutions together, and then implement them, follow up, and track progress. And then ultimately, if you attempt to remedy the situation and your efforts are ineffective, I want you to have a policy on what you do. Make the decision ahead of time and follow it.
Otherwise, you end up making exceptions and things get really emotional. I want to make sure that you don’t get into that territory, into that hot water. So, decide how many chances do you give someone to figure it out. When they don’t figure it out, how many times do you problem solve with them? And then, if they still don’t figure it out, what do you do? Do you terminate the person? Do you report them? Do you give them a negative review?
I want you to have a clear policy on what you do, and you just get to follow it every single time. This is a great area for you to make decisions ahead of time and honor them, rather than having a hodgepodge way that you approach these situations. Where it’s really inconsistent and very challenging for you, and it taxes you immensely by you having to devote much more mental capacity than is necessary each time one of these situations arises. Okay?
So, those are the steps. Once you work through them, you just rinse and repeat. You go back again. Cultivate the right mindset. Make sure that you’re making time. Plan each week. And then schedule standing meetings, in order for you to assign, allow for questions, review the work, all of that.
Make sure you get clear on what you want before you assign the project. And then you can find the right team member for that task. Go ahead and delegate it. Once you found the right team member, build in time for questions and review. Go through that process, assuming it won’t go perfectly. Empower team members to answer their own questions, so you can teach your analysis.
Be sure you follow through and commit to this process, both on each individual task and over the long term one. Evaluate what’s working? What’s not working? What would you do differently? Make sure you give feedback from a very clean place and get curious, and problem solve with your team members when things go differently than you’d like them to go.
In order to consistently make improvements over time, for you to reap the benefits that delegating can provide you when you really commit to doing this over the course of some time, rather than being focused on the short term.
All right, I hope that helps you. You’ve got a 12-step process. I talked about 12 mistakes that you were making, in the last episode. Now, you have a 12-step process for how to delegate moving forward. Work this process, it will be such a game changer for you. It’s going to free you up to do your most important work in the world. And it’s going to empower your team members to support you, which I promise you they truly want to do.
All right. Go have fun delegating. Have a beautiful week, and I will talk to you in the next episode.
Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.