Who am I: Innovation Program Manager

A few weeks ago the communication department of the company I work for posted a soundbite video of me and how I’ve moved to the United States. This week, they are posting a video on what I do in terms of innovation.  You can watch it on YouTube below.  Hope you like it!

Enjoy!

+Alesandra Blakeston

Intern Advice

A colleague of mine has recently passed her 40th work anniversary. That’s an amazing 40 years working for the same company. As part of our women’s network, she was asked to give her advice to new young women joining the company. Very inspiring stuff. In fact, it inspired me to pass on some life learning to my interns. Here goes…

  1. If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters! Stay cool – Claire Cook
  2. Life is either a #DaringAdventure or nothing – Helen Keller
  3. Don’t be afraid of being #Different. Be afraid of being the same as everyone else – Unknown
  4. #Don’tCompare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20.  Everyone was a beginner at some point – Unknown
  5. If you are working on something #exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed.  The vision pulls you – Steve Jobs

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Hope these inspire you!

+Alesandra Blakeston

Dealing with Mr. Negative

We’ve all been to creativity sessions.  Depending on your personality and your history, you either love them or hate them. I personally love creativity sessions.  I love the interactivity, the participation.  However I was recently at one session where there was one participant, let’s call him “Mr Negative”, constantly shot down every idea, every suggestion.  It was really frustrating.  I used every trick in my arsenal to try and get him to be more positive and in the end had to resort to “OK, I want everyone to come up with three possible benefits if we decide to use this approach.”  Subtle, no, but it got the point across, and from that point onward, the session improved.

Negativity has it’s place.  We need to be realistic and to look at the possible downsides to potential ideas, but it has to come at the right moment.  It definitely has no place when you are just starting a creativity session and are looking for a fresh approach and new ideas.  In the wrong place, negativity just kills creativity.

killing creativity

Personally, when dealing with negativity in the workplace, I prefer to use questions and listen.  Show the negative person respect, and then try to get them to re-frame their negative response in a more positive light.  I find positive aspects amongst the negativity.  I find positive solutions for the issues raised.  In creativity sessions, I have a rule that says no idea is a bad idea and no negativity until the appropriate time.  However it is a difficult topic, so I thought I would share with you 5 quick tips that help me:

  1. Avoid personalising.  Don’t take it personally, don’t give into an emotional response, regardless of the provocation.  Do not be defensive.
  2. Use “I” messages.  Instead of saying “I can’t believe you said that!”, say “I find it difficult when I hear negative feedback.”
  3. Remain professional.  Speak calmly.  Use the UAR process: Understand, listen and provide feedback in a constructive manner.  Apologise blamelessly.  Resolve the issue by specifying actions
  4. Confront the negativity.  You cannot just leave it be.  You need to address it and address it quickly
  5. Turn things around.  Negative people are also skilled at using sarcasm to destroy ideas.  When faced with sarcasm, turn it around.  If you are faced with “That is just what we need, more paperwork.” reply, “Yes, that is exactly what we need.  paperwork that is actually useful, instead of what we currently have.  Perhaps the current paperwork is the problem.  When someone lists lots of reasons why something cannot be done, ask them for positive suggestions on what could be done instead.  Be bold and be assertive!

 

I’d be interested in hearing how you deal with nay-sayers.  What do you hear that just kills creativity and how do you deal with it?

Alesandra Blakeston

Can you tell me a story?

galahan___the_bard_by_gustavomalek-d3919p3Before there were books there was Storytelling (also called oral tradition). The history of the clan was handed down in the form of stories from father to son. Later, men were trained in how to deliver a good story and earned their living as bards or as storytellers, travelling from town to town passing along news as they went. In modern times, children are told bedtime stories by our parents. As a result, we are almost conditioned to listen when someone starts to tell us a story. How many times have you stayed up late reading a novel that you couldn’t put down, or watching a movie that you couldn’t turn off? Assuming that the storyteller has any skill at all, we soon start to lose ourselves in the story, learning and becoming engaged at the same time.

Storytelling affecting the business

Today, almost all good presenters and leaders will use stories to engage their audiences / teams. Trainers use stories to illustrate their points, managers can use narratives to help push past conflicts within the team, marketing teams tell stories in advertising to get the customers engaged.

In his book, Tell to Win, Peter Guber joins writers like Annette Simmons and Stephen Denning in praising the power of story in human affairs generally, and business in particular. Guber argues that:

Humans simply aren’t moved to action by “data dumps,” dense PowerPoint slides, or spreadsheets packed with figures. People are moved by emotion and the best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with “Once upon a time…”

Unfortunately, most people don’t think they are story tellers and will freeze up when put on the spot, but in fact we all tell stories every day. When we talk to friends and colleagues about our weekend, about our families and lives, we are telling stories. My advice?

???????????????????????????????Start small!

Anecdotes about your children, pets and friends all come under the heading of starting small. You can tell the story of what happened at work, what happened with a customer. Relax with the story and see where it leads you.

A good presentation on how to tell stories in business can be found on slideshare: The essentials of business storytelling by Shawn Callaghan. His advice:

  1. Make a point
  2. Tell a story illustrating that point
  3. Give your reasons
  4. Reiterate your point

Improving our storytelling

I loved this piece a while back on hbr: Storytelling That Moves People by Robert McKee and Bronwyn Fryer

What makes a good story?

You emphatically do not want to tell a beginning-to-end tale describing how results meet expectations. This is boring and banal. Instead, you want to display the struggle between expectation and reality in all its nastiness.

For example, let’s imagine the story of a biotech start-up we’ll call Chemcorp, whose CEO has to persuade some Wall Street bankers to invest in the company. He could tell them that Chemcorp has discovered a chemical compound that prevents heart attacks and offer up a lot of slides showing them the size of the market, the business plan, the organizational chart, and so on. The bankers would nod politely and stifle yawns while thinking of all the other companies better positioned in Chemcorp’s market.

file0001812797650Alternatively, the CEO could turn his pitch into a story, beginning with someone close to him—say, his father—who died of a heart attack. So nature itself is the first antagonist that the CEO-as-protagonist must overcome. The story might unfold like this: In his grief, he realizes that if there had been some chemical indication of heart disease, his father’s death could have been prevented. His company discovers a protein that’s present in the blood just before heart attacks and develops an easy-to-administer, low-cost test.

But now it faces a new antagonist: the FDA. The approval process is fraught with risks and dangers. The FDA turns down the first application, but new research reveals that the test performs even better than anyone had expected, so the agency approves a second application. Meanwhile, Chemcorp is running out of money, and a key partner drops out and goes off to start his own company. Now Chemcorp is in a fight-to-the-finish patent race.

This accumulation of antagonists creates great suspense. The protagonist has raised the idea in the bankers’ heads that the story might not have a happy ending. By now, he has them on the edges of their seats, and he says, “We won the race, we got the patent, we’re poised to go public and save a quarter-million lives a year.” And the bankers just throw money at him.

brooke-once-upon-a-timeDanger, Will Robinson, Danger

A final word of caution, though. Just because your storytelling skills aren’t red hot, doesn’t mean that your competitors aren’t! Even the most logical person when confronted with an emotionally ridden story will become engaged. This can lead to you buying products that you didn’t really need, or in the business case, your customers being swayed to your competition because they tell the better advertising story. The time to start telling stories is now!

Alesandra Blakeston

5 tips to make the most out of collaboration

0010063532R-849x565How many times have you heard that collaboration is King?  Why?  It’s creative – each individual has a different way of looking at things, which sparks new ideas in others.

Collaboration is also useful when you have limited resources as it helps to bring together resources, people and ideas.  However, is every collaborative effort successful?  Unfortunately not.

When most people talk about tips to help collaboration, they’ll tell you about this tool, this methodology.  For me, though collaboration is about people.

So, here are 5 people oriented tips to help you make the most out of your collaborative efforts

1. There is a queen bee in every hive!

People often think that when a manager / leader is involved with true collaboration, his only role is to facilitate (Make an action or process easy or easier).  Don’t misunderstand me, facilitation has its place in every collaboration, in fact it is essential.  However, so is leadership.

nCzacjUI’ve been reading a lot about innovation recently and one of the ideas that I’ve picked up is Edward de Bono’s “Six thinking hats”.  Well worth a read if you have the chance.  The six thinking hats discuss the different roles needed for creativity.  One of those roles is the “leadership” role or “administrator” role (the blue hat).  Each collaboration needs a mediator, a time keeper, a referee.  Without this role, you could end up in anarchy.  Someone needs to solve dispute; someone needs to keep track of time scales and deadlines.

Imagine a beehive.  Each bee inside the hive has a role to play and a function.  However, without the queen nothing much would get done.  How will you know when you have achieved a task or a milestone if you don’t have a queen bee?  So if one person doesn’t immediately step forward, elect a team leader for each collaborative effort.  The team leader / blue hat role helps to focus and support the group!

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2. It doesn’t take much to curdle milk

Collaboration is dependant on the people in the team and as such it doesn’t take much for it all to go sour.  Being flexible and accepting failure is vital, however if you see a problem, fix it and fast.  Unnecessary red tape, a problem team member, negativity can all cause the collaborative effort to fail.  Identify the weeds and throw them out!

Curdled milk is never salvageable   It will take you less time to identify and remove your problem areas than it will to do the project twice and it’s less damaging to your reputation!

3. Recognise your power users

955071_80397867For those of you who speak IT, you’ll know that a power user is not quite an administrator, but they have more access and more “rights” than a normal user would.  In terms of collaboration, this means that not everyone will put in the same effort and time, not everyone will contribute at the same level.  As well as identifying the problems, identify your shining stars.

Collaboration is about balance and working in concert, pairing needs and working towards (a sometimes but not always) shared goal while accomplishing smaller tasks as you go.  Thinking back to the beehive, if you had the same number of queens and warriors as you had worker bees, the end result would be a mess.  Don’t force everyone to be equal just to be perceived as fair. Give everyone their due and let people contribute what they can.

4. When 10 is not greater than 2

1259849_90935436 (Medium)If you asked someone for a definition of collaboration, they will probably start talking about team work.  We often think of collaboration as a group effort sharing the weight from beginning to end.  However, who says it cannot start small and get bigger?  Projects evolve.  People can leave, people can join as the needs arise.  Leverage the talents you require to get the job (task) done.  If someone is not needed, let them get on with something else.  For the record, teamwork and collaboration are different:

Teamwork = individuals working together for a common goal harmoniously

Collaboration = people with various goals banded together, only a few of which are usually shared

It makes sense then that your collaborative team could and should change as the goals and milestone adjust.  This will make any sudden game changers (new objectives, focus) less of a problem

5. A poor workman blames his tools

0008333352T-849x565There are some fantastic tools out there, both online and off, which can help collaboration.  There are so many tools available that make it easy to stay on top of tasks and easily collaborate with your team even if they are not all in the same room.  However they are just that.  Tools.  Without clear direction, deadlines, updates, people skills and leadership, the best tool in the world will not make your project successful.  You will get out what you put in as we say.  Or if you prefer you will reap what you sow.

In R. Keith Sawyer’s study of jazz performances, Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, Sawyer made this observation:

“The group has the ideas, not the individual musicians.”

According to Sawyer, more often than not, true innovation emerges from an improvised process and draws from trial-by-error and many inputs, “with sparks gathering together over time, multiple dead ends, and the reinterpretation of previous ideas.”  This happens when people are involved.  Tools will only help you to get there.

Hope this helps!

Alesandra Blakeston

Are you as keen as mustard? Should you be?

mlnpVuyIn English, the phrase “As keen as mustard” means to be really enthusiastic.  Back in the olden days, you couldn’t have beef without mustard.  Since it added zest and flavour to the meal, mustard became associated with vigour and zeal.  By the early 20th century, the association was so strong that people and things weren’t just like mustard, they were mustard.

I remember when that phrase was applied to a friend of mine back when we first started working after university.  You’d think it was a good thing right?  Only the actual phrase used was more along the lines of “She’s as keen as mustard alright, but…” and subsequently there followed an explanation of how she was always running in the wrong direction, or that she worked hard, but the results were never quite right.

I was reminded of this part of my history by a post on a colleague’s blog “When You Don’t Fit In At Work” by Tina Del Buono, PMAC.  The post made me think initially of another friend who struggled to fit in.  Then as I reflected a little more, I thought of how much I personally had learned during that time of my life and others when I too hadn’t quite fit in.  I absorbed and experienced more about people management and influencing others by the mistakes that I made back then.  I remember feeling as though I was running from one fire to the next.  Sure I wanted to show how fantastic I was and to make a great impression, but was I effective?  Perhaps not!

I also saw this post this week “Doing more only to do less – do we glorify busy?” by SOFAGIRL.  She initially talks about some Dutch workers who regularly put in 10 hour days since their workload is too high to fit into the 8 hour schedule.  I really liked this comment:

Hmmfff…”, said their pals, “In Holland, if you were to work like that we would think you were not coping.”

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SOFAGIRL goes on to talk about an anxiety attack she had and the negative consequences she faced from being over busy.  Again her motivation was obviously in the right place, but her well being was compromised as a result.  As a result, she makes some very convincing arguments about how to manage your time more effectively.  In fact it is a great post and I highly recommend reading it.

When we over work in this way, we are in fact making a choice.  Perhaps it doesn’t feel like a choice at the time, because it is a series of very small, tiny, inconsequential choices.  Just five minutes more one day, checking your email at the weekend another day, and then accepting a call whilst on holiday the next.  We do these thing because we want to be seen to matter; to be seen as an effective force in the workplace; to get a bigger bonus at the end of the year, to be seen as being close to perfect and to be needed and / or wanted.

A lot of other people have posted on this subject, mostly stating that working long hours is not productive and as Sofagirl explained are actually harmful to us in the long run.  A couple on hbr.org that I enjoyed were “Overcome your work addiction” and “Set boundaries on the sacrifices you’ll make for work“.

0010376801W-849x565Often though, in my experience, working long hours is rewarded by managers and eventually becomes seen as being the norm.  Those that don’t work long hours are seen as being inflexible and not committed to the company.  Unfortunately, working long hours are just one of many symptoms.  I’ve seen colleagues taking on more work than they can possibly handle, running to and from meetings, making bad quick decisions in the heat of the moment because they don’t have the time to make a deep analysis, taking work home with them and one that I myself often do, which is eating a sandwich at my desk instead of having a proper dinner break.  “That’s nothing”, you scoff!  In fact, I’m sure everyone reading this could add to the list. Unless you’ve learned from experience, or you’re naturally zen, we all overwork to a certain extent.

Perhaps instead of just being keen, we should also aim to be balanced and effective.  Work hard, play hard.  Balance.  Fun! Identify not just your own strengths, but the strengths of your team.  Work out how to organise the work load so that everyone goes home on time, no-one is over stressed and over worked and that each person is doing the jobs that they are the best at.

0010067603R-849x565Imagine person A is great in Excel and person B sucks at Excel, though they are a fast typist.  Get person A to do the excel work for the team and person B to do the word processing.  Over simplified, yes, but you get the point.  Also identify the value added in the work your team does.  Identify what is key to the business success and put that to the top of the list.  Stop saying yes to everyone and everything, and instead draw a line between what will show your team in a great light and what won’t.  You can still be keen, but direct that keenness!  As a leader, you should insist on a healthy work environment and take time to let your team relax.

I personally have a tendency to say yes, when I really should say no.  I am a team player and will help just about anyone. Just like being keen as mustard, it sounds great, but…  I’ve had to really scale back over the past few months due to a vacancy in my team.  I’ve had to learn that just because something IS an objective doesn’t mean that it SHOULD be.  It might be on my to do list, but the when has definitely become flexible and sometimes even whether or not it is on the list. Obviously delegation helps, but you can only delegate so much before your team also starts to drown.  I’ve really learned how to prioritise over the past few months.  There’s no magic wand, just a lot of deep calm breaths.  Instead of making a quick decision, I’ve learned to make a better analysis and only do the work that I or my team can add value to.  Instead of going to every meeting I am invited to and running from one meeting to the next, I check what exactly is on the agenda. Do I really need to be there?  Could that time be better spent?  Are others going to the meeting that would fulfill the same need?  I am trying to work less, but be more efficient and more focussed.

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Working long hours simply makes me irritable and over tired.  I make poorer decisions and I make more mistakes.  Not good for me and certainly not good for the company I work for.  Now I celebrate the successes that my team achieve and choose which fights we want to win carefully.  I am keen as mustard, but… it doesn’t mean that I can or will do everything.

What about you?

Alesandra Blakeston

Leadership quotes

Inspired originally by a quote from this blog: Quote for Apr 9th by Carol Dougherty, I thought I would put together some quotes on Leadership that have motivated and challenged me over the past few months.  I hope that you find them as useful as I have!  The presentation is posted on Slideshare.net in Adobe Acrobat format (*.pdf), however the full PowerPoint 2010 file (*.pptx) is available here.

Innovation and Implementation: A Risky Business…

0010363503V-849x565A large part of my job is project management.  I oversee the results of the training program I manage, I motivate and energise the teams involved in it, and I implement smaller projects within the program to improve it and reduce cost.  This year, we’re hoping to make a lot of innovations, though of course it is all dependent on resource and time.  What do I mean by innovations?  Obviously we make changes to improve things all the time. What I mean here are significant changes where we take giant leaps of faith, completely changing the way we do things or using completely new products / services / technologies.  This involves a lot of research, development, training and support.

Deciding which innovative projects to implement and the strategy you’re going to adopt can be difficult when technology is involved, especially if there is a significant difference in the old and new technologies.  However it gets even more difficult when large numbers of people need to be brought on board, with big changes in competence.  You not only have to work out which personnel are going to help you drive the innovation, but also train large numbers of people and this is in addition to making the change.

I’ve been asked several times over the last year, why did we change this piece of software, or why did we implement that program.  Often people assume it’s about cost (because let’s face it, in business it usually is) but sometimes, it’s about the user experience as well.  As a trainer, I won’t adopt software just because it’s cheap; for me it has to be easy to use and somewhat intuitive if possible.  When I decide to make a change, it’s because I believe in the change.  Nothing less will do. Why?  Because implementations are risky.

0001332960GG-849x565When you decide to do something, to implement a new program, to change existing working methods, your credibility is on the line.  In short you are publicly telling your team and any other staff in your vicinity that “We can do it!”  When you consider that all implementations involve large scale changes (and this means Risk with a capital “R”), it is definitely scary putting your reputation on the line.

If the implementation is successful, then your credibility soars, you get moved to larger projects and you are seen as being innovative.  However, it is not just you who is responsible for the implementation.  Other members of your team / service / site / factories are involved and their commitment to the implementation will have an effect.  Unfortunately, this is just one of many factors that you have to take into consideration, assess and put measures in place to control.  If the implementation goes badly, you and your team can spend years trying to recover and overcome the negative backlash.

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In addition to involving multiple people in the implementation, others will be impacted by the change as well.  For the implementation to be successful, these impacts need to be analysed carefully and training programs / communication plans put into place, otherwise they will have a negative impact later.  What is the population of people affected by the change?  Are they young, old?  Is there a culture of continuous improvement in place?  Are they used to change?  Remember the old adage “You can’t teach and old dog new tricks”?  Imagine trying to get them to adopt new technology, new software.  Change is hard, especially on thosewho are out of the habit of learning and are set in their ways.

Implementations also involve beginnings, ends and changes.  Regardless of the type of innovation, (new contracts, changes to programs or software) there are expectations when we use the word implementation.  Expectations that can be unrealistic or unachievable given the current level of resource / budget.  Delays or over spending of the budget brings along with it fiscal and contractual risk.  What exactly are your managers expecting?  What exactly do you and your team expect?  What exactly do the end users expect?  Are they the same thing?

WIIFM (Medium)Managing the risk is vital, starting with understanding what is at stake. This is often underestimated and a common mistake is thinking that the person controlling the purse strings / budget “likes you and / or understands where you are coming from.”  They may like you, but ultimately, they will do what is right for them.  Instead think WIIFT, or what’s in it for them.  Why are they willing to invest?  What do they get out of it?  Meeting their needs, rather than yours should be first on your to do list.

Does any of this mean that you shouldn’t innovate though? No, far from it.  It simply means that when you innovate, you need to accept that there is an element of risk.  Make thorough plans, make as much of the process as possible completely transparent and get early buy in from your team.  Some argue that getting early buy in from your managers is risky.  If they don’t like the initial idea, they can shut it down before it even starts.  In addition, even when you have done further research to prove your idea many will still dislike it, simply because it is human nature to see what you want to see, in this case they will find holes in the project as they are expecting to see holes to back up their earlier assessment.  However, if you do plenty of research beforehand and work out what is in it for your investor / manager, you are more likely to get support and early support can make the difference when reducing possible delays and smoothing over difficulties.

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Accept also that you are going to make mistakes and where possible budget for the mistakes.  This may sound odd especially when you need to get buy in from managers above you, but a good management team will understand that mistakes happen when you are being innovative and will respect you more if you plan for them.  I remember one project a few years ago that was actually successful, but needed much more support and effort on my side than I could ever have envisaged.  We’re planning another change this year along similar lines and I simply will not do the change in the same way.  The software we currently use to create training material is somewhat cumbersome now (although when we first got it, it was top of the line).  I plan to change it; however this means updating all of the existing training content, training all of the current team and changing the way we work significantly.  Instead of asking my local teams to make the change with their limited resources, I’m going to create a small central team of specialists who will do the bulk of the changeover work for the local teams, leaving just end user training to do with the bulk of the people who will eventually use it.  This will significantly lessen the impact of the change on the majority of the people and so increase the chance that the end users will accept the change more readily.  Of course, I am also planning to market the new software and I’ve identified the key people in my organisation who will be open to the change and find it immediately see the usefulness and so have incentive to make the change.  Once they are sold on the new software, they will in turn impact their networks and so on and so on.  You are always more receptive to an idea from someone you trust.

Another point I would advice is to give yourself leeway in terms of time and don’t underestimate or overestimate how much you are going to spend in an effort to look good.  When you spend significantly less than what you plan to spend it shows bad management just as over spending does.  Quite simply, you haven’t planned correctly.  Gantt charts are great and I use them a lot, but you need to put thought behind the calculations.  Allow for human error, but still aim to optimise the time you have.  It’s a balancing act!

0002843528UU-849x565Once you have identified all of your risks and then assessed their impact, you will know which risks could cripple your project and which ones have a high likelihood of occurrence.  You can then take it one step further and identify ways to reduce the risks that have a high likelihood and high severity.  You are more likely to be successful if you have contingency plans in place.  Obviously you cannot plan for every eventuality, but you can identify most of them.

Finally, if you can’t be passionate about the change, no one will be. If you are nervous about the change, others around you will be even more so.  Accept the risks, plan to mitigate them as much as possible, acknowledge your mistakes and improve your strategy as a result of them.  Put good people in place around you, who also believe in the plan and are optimistic about it. Then and only then will you succeed!

Alesandra Blakeston

 

Delegation and me…

0010354635U-565x849I’ve been thinking about delegation a lot recently.  My work life has become very busy with the influx of the new interns, and since I’m currently recruiting to fill a vacant position in my team as well, you can imagine how hectic life is.   I’m needing to delegate more and more and I worry that I am delegating boring and repetitive tasks, rather than delegating interesting and fulfilling work that will develop the interns.

I saw this blog post yesterday by Danielle Rainbolt, which lead to an interesting post about leadership: Top 10 things I wish I knew the day I became a leader by David Peck. David lists 10 things that I also wish I had known 10, 15 years ago.  It would have made my life so much easier!  Number 7 on his list however was about delegation:

Delegation is about trusting someone with responsibility and verifying they are handling it responsibly.

Obviously I agree with this statement.  For me it is quite obvious.  However, I then went on to read another blog post, this time specifically about delegation by author wotuw8ing4.  He quotes My Coach Bob:

Delegation is about giving away a project, not giving away a task

It made me think, so I started to analyse exactly what I delegate, why I do it and how I can do it better.

0010051796Q-849x565Why should I delegate?

Primarily most people delegate because:

No one can do everything; delegating frees you up to do other tasks.  When you quit worrying about minor tasks, it allows you to do more strategic work.  Highly paid people should not be doing low-skill work

Does that sound about right?  However, I’d like to point out that just because you are highly paid, it doesn’t mean that

Someone else cannot do your work better

So as Coach Bob said, perhaps we should be delegating projects rather than tasks.  This will aid in career development for your team; they will hone their skills by doing the work, and they will feel more fulfilled.  In addition, by delegating a project, you will have even more free time than if you delegated individual tasks.  They feel empowered and a culture of trust is developed.

0010357464U-849x565So then, when don’t I delegate?

Here’s my list – obviously yours might be different:

  • When I would be annoyed by being given that task to do.  I try to live by the adage “Never ask someone to do something that you would not be prepared to do yourself.”
  • When it takes longer to explain something than it would to do something.
  • When the work is beyond someone’s capability.
  • When there is a confidentiality issue.
  • When there is a lot at stake and I want to keep the control.

Obviously, I will continue to keep in place the first point on the list, but I am going to start to challenge the other points more.  Even if it might take longer to explain, or even if it is currently beyond someone’s capability, long-term it can still be better to delegate the work.  The more trained my team is, the better they will perform.

As for the confidentiality aspect, if you don’t trust your team, well they shouldn’t be your team!

The final point is difficult for me, and I suspect for others as well.  The higher the stakes, the harder it is to trust and to delegate, especially with a team of interns who do not have the same experience in the work environment.  Still, I am going to challenge myself on this issue as well.  The more you control, the less likely your team is going to be innovative and creative.  If you allow your team to choose their projects, manage their own time, and give them latitude to make decisions and take action without consulting you first then new leaders will naturally emerge.

My delegating plan

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I am going to try to find balance between delegating repetitive tasks and missions / projects

I am going to trust my team more

I am going to continue to expand the capabilities of my team more and delegate even when it will initially cost me more time

I am going to meddle less and allow more innovation in my team and watch as new leaders emerge

What about you?

Alesandra Blakeston