How to Delegate Effectively/Say the Same Thing/Do You Have A Business or A Perpetuity Project?
The Newsletter of Redpoint Coaching
Volume 10, No. 6, June 2011
After a long, chilly spring, Summer has finally arrived in Seattle (we hope!). In our June issue, we bring you some tips on how to accomplish what might be the hardest management skill to master: delegation. We always knew that the most effective managers repeat themselves and now there's proof from some Harvard researchers. And finally, if you been avoiding the sometimes tough discussions around succession issues in your company, here are some questions to get you started.
As always, we love to hear from you. If you have question, comments or just want to tell us how your Summer is going, you can reach us at email@example.com.
Urs and Lauren
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IN THIS ISSUE:
- Effective Managers Say the Same Thing Twice (or More)
- Do You Have A Business or a Perpetuity Project: Protect Your Biggest Asset with Clear Thinking and Solid Planning
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by Urs Koenig, PhD, MBA
Is This You?
Joe is the managing partner of private equity firm. He has tons of balls in the air at any one time. He is generally good at delegating projects and tasks. Yet when his stress level rises, he feels the urge to re-engage in projects he previously delegated and ends up frustrating his people. Joe is micro managing and getting overly involved with his subordinates’ projects.
Susanne is the Senior Vice President of Operations. She has a background in sales and enjoys nothing more than building relationships. Because of her position, she gets bombarded with requests for meetings and calls. By her own admission, she finds herself too often spending time with people who should be talking to her sales force instead of her. Susanne is engaged in tasks that be done effectively by someone at a lower level in the company.
Recognize yourself or one of your managers in the above behavior patterns? If so, read on!
Delegate More of The Right Stuff
Most leaders we talk to feel that they need to do a better job at delegating. Indeed, effectively delegating might arguably be THE hardest leadership competency to master. While the majority of leaders and managers need to delegate more, it’s not just a question of delegating as much as possible but delegating the right stuff. It might actually be that your people need you more and not less involved in certain areas.
Ask Your People
Our advice is simple. Sit down with each of your direct reports and ask them the following questions (credit to Marshall Goldsmith) about each of their areas of responsibility:
- Are there areas and projects where you believe that I am too hands-on and can let go more? Are there projects where I need to get more involved and provide you with more guidance?
During the course of this discussion you will inevitably find that you are micro managing in certain areas and that more delegation is needed there, while more of your involvement is asked for in other areas.
Then Ask Your Direct Reports:
- Do you ever see me working on tasks that someone at my level doesn't need to do? Are there areas where I can help other people grow and develop, and give myself more time to focus on strategy and long-term planning?
I will virtually guarantee you that your direct reports will come up with great suggestions for you on things a person in your position should not be doing.
Ask yourself and your people these tough questions. The responses will most likely be eye opening and will save you time, energy and make you more effective. All the things good delegation is supposed to do!
Following our coaching philosophy we encourage you to commit to concrete action steps to your direct reports on how you will improve your delegation and then check in with them on a regular basis on how you are doing.
And remember the 'D' in LeaDership stands for Delegating!
“If you want something done you need to say it 150 times, seven different ways.”
I must have said this so many times (maybe 150 times) that some of my clients have quoted me back.
I am proud to announce that empirical research (quoted in the 2011 May issue of the Harvard Business Review) is now backing my statement:
”A team lead by Professor Tsedal Neeley (from Harvard) and Professor Paul Leonardi (from Northwestern University) shadowed 13 managers in six companies for more than 250 hours, recording every communication the managers sent and received. The research discovered that one of every seven communication by the mangers was completely redundant with a previous communication using a different technology. They also saw that the managers who were deliberately redundant moved their projects forward faster and more smoothly.”
When the researchers asked the managers if they were surprised about their redundant communication the reaction was this: “Seriously, you think this is interesting? This is how it works. Of course I follow up with yet another message.”
Two key take-aways from this research for you:
- If you want something done, plan deliberately to communicate the same message several times using different techniques such as instant communication (face to face meetings, calls, Instant messaging) or delayed communication (emails, voice mails).
- The most powerful way to move the needle on a project or a task is to start with an instant communication (preferable a face-to-face meeting, second best a call) and then follow up with a delayed message (such as an email). The instant communication ensures motivation and buy-in. But the follow up via email is to remind people of their commitments so that it does not fall off the radar screen.
- Do not use email first (delayed message) and then follow up with a face to face (instant).
I just finished reading Tom Deans’ book, Every Family’s Business. I’ve already given away my two copies of this book to clients and will likely give away more because of the excellent points Deans makes.
According to Deans, the most important thing that a founder can do is to think of the business as a money making asset, not as a legacy for the family. The true legacy is the wealth the family business creates, not the business itself. Part of this responsibility, he states, is in always asking the question: in whose hands would this asset create the most return? If the answer is “in someone else’s”, then that option must be explored.
Too many founders think in terms of what Deans calls a “perpetuity project” with the goal of keeping the business in family hands trumping the goal of the business as a money making asset.
When the goal is to keep ownership of the business in succeeding generations no matter what, the costs, Deans says, can be devastating. Next generations members can get stuck in declining businesses they either did not want and/or are unsuited to lead. Businesses can fail due to ownership that turned a blind eye to market realities or unqualified management. Ultimately, family relationships can be damaged or destroyed as a result. The wealth that the family was counting on to continue on to future generations (or, more importantly, pay for their own retirement) is gone forever.
One of the biggest mistakes, Deans says, is gifting ownership to children or key employees as a form of compensation. Bad idea! Ownership transfer should be treated separately, again after asking the question, “In whose hands would this asset create the most return?" Don't mix stock ownership with employment compensation. Children (or key employees) should be fairly compensated for the work they do in salary, not stock. Another reason for gifting is to avoid taxes. A bad decision made for tax purposes...is still a bad decision.
Deans lays out a series of 12 questions that every owner needs to ask of themselves and then ask of their children and/or key employees at least once a year.
Here are Dean’s first four questions to get you started:
- What does your business look like in five years? (to both owners and child/key employee)
- Are you interested in selling your stock? If yes, to whom? (to owner and child/key employee if they own stock) _____Yes _______No If yes, To Whom __________
- Are you interested in buying stock and acquiring control? (to child/key employee)
- Do you understand and agree that in the interest of maximizing shareholder value, this business can be sold to a third party at any time? (to owner and child/key employee) ____Yes ______No
If you are like most of the business owners we see in our practice, your business is likely the single most important asset you own. And, if you are in the 80% of business owners out there who do not have a succession plan in place, for the sake of your family and your future, make it your business to explore the issues raised in Deans’ book. For more information on Deans and/or to order his book, visit his website.
Our new column is our effort to celebrate the simple joys of having fun. Remember fun? You know, “lively, joyous play or playfulness: amusement, sport, recreation, etc.?"
Urs - The most fun I had this month was...
trying yet another exercise toy called Skikes. Skikes (from ‘skate’ and ‘bike’) are Nordic skates with pneumatic tires that you use with sneakers or cross country skiing boots. Unlike rollerblades, you can take them off-road and even more importantly, they have highly functioning brakes, so you can actually use them in hilly terrain. My knees (one of which is currently recovering from a knee scope surgery) seem to tolerate the workout.
Over lunch I am having fun skiking along the Seattle water front: the wind driving in over the Puget Sound and the still snow-covered Olympics and Mt Rainier in the back ground.
Lauren - The most fun I’ve had this month was...
participating in my Improv 200 class showcase last Saturday night. Terrifyingly fun is what I called this opportunity to perform in front of friends and family with my fellow classmates at the Market Theater in Seattle. While practicing improv might sound like an oxymoron, we had such thorough coaching beforehand by our wonderful instructor Brandon Felker, we were more than ready to take the stage (and hold our own next to higher level classes). Visit Unexpected Productions for more information on their classes, corporate team building, and productions. For a truly fun night out, attend their Theatersports every Friday and Saturday night at the Market Theater in Seattle.
US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK+++++
Send an email to ChangeAbility@redpointcoaching.com. We welcome your feedback!
ChangeAbility is a publication of Redpoint Succession and Leadership Coaching, which is run by Lauren Owen, MBA and Urs Koenig PhD, MBA.
Copyright Redpoint Succession and Leadership Coaching, 2011. All rights reserved
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