Strategies for Effective Delegation

Entrepreneurs are detail-oriented people. They know what they want, when they want it, and exactly which steps they need to take to achieve their business goals. This dual focus on big-picture goals and tiny details is invaluable for those working to get their startups or small businesses off the ground. It can, however, sometimes get in the way for entrepreneurs who have made their business dreams a reality and are trying to maintain that iron grip over the venture’s day-to-day happenings. At some point, even the most control-oriented entrepreneur needs to trust that the employees she delegates to can handle the work – maybe even better than she herself can! Here, I outline a few tips I’ve found useful as a delegating entrepreneur.

Prepare

Don’t just throw a task on an employee’s desk and expect it to be done the way you imagine. Before you even reach out to the employee, you should outline the specifics of the task you plan to delegate. Put yourself in your subordinate’s shoes: what would you ask a manager if they dropped this assignment in your inbox? Have a few answers prepared and ready at hand. Remember, you yourself need to have a clear understanding of the task at hand – otherwise, how could you possibly convey it properly?

Communicate Clearly

A worker needs to know what you expect to be done, how you expect it to be done, and when you need it to be done by. By setting clear expectations upfront, you pave the way to a smooth project execution and delivery later on. That said, managers must keep in mind that how information is conveyed matters just as much as the information itself. Check your tone and attitude! Do employees feel willing to ask questions? If not, you may find yourself needing to rectify miscommunications and mishandled projects down the line.

Confirm Understanding and Commitment

Never assume that an employee understands a project without confirming with them first. Misunderstandings can lead workers to complete tasks incorrectly and ultimately waste their time – and yours! Before you formally hand off a project, ask the employee questions about the task at hand to ensure that they fully understand their responsibilities, deliverables, and deadlines.

Follow Up

Effective communication is a two-way street. Periodically check in with your subordinates to make sure that their projects are on-track and that they themselves are comfortable and engaged in their work. Ideally, they should feel comfortable reaching out to you when they encounter a problem or need clarification on project details. Regular communication between manager and employee builds accountability, and accountability prevents last-minute mistakes.

Don’t Hover

Relinquishing control can be difficult for detail-driven entrepreneurs, but it is an absolute necessity for long-term business success. One individual can’t handle every aspect of a business! Don’t try to hover or micromanage projects, but trust that the people you hired can handle what you give them. If an employee seems to be veering off-course, try coaching them through the problem rather than stealing the task back. Remember, taking projects you’ve delegated back only overloads your own plate, undermines the employee’s confidence, and produces a lesser-quality product.

*Originally posted on PhilipWardSeattle.com

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End Hunger in America: Why We Need Soup Kitchens

It’s five o’clock on a school night, and the cupboards are stripped bare. A mother scans her cupboard shelves, hoping in vain that she overlooked something – a stray bag of dried lentils or a can of chicken soup. She steps back a few minutes later with empty hands. Her children are eligible for free lunches at school and so haven’t become hungry enough to ask for food yet, but she knows that they will soon. She herself opted out of lunch, rationalizing that the money she would make in the hour was worth a few hours of hunger. But now, facing the empty shelves, the pangs she feels take on a greater intensity. She worked all day to feed her children, but the shelves are bare and payday a week away – so what can she do?

 

Hunger is a real and serious problem in America. In my home state of Washington, one in eight people lack the food needed to fulfill basic nutritional needs. The statistics are even worse for children; according to an October 2017 report by Northwest Harvest, one in five Washingtonian children live in a family that struggles to put food on the table. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of hungry families in the state skyrocketed from 88,000 to 163,000. These statistics are made more frustrating by the fact that the vast majority of working-age Washingtonians who grapple with poverty are actively working or looking for work. Despite working long hours and putting in Herculean efforts, many parents are left unable to provide for their children’s basic nutritional needs and give up their own meals to feed their families. Like the mother above, they are left in the frustrating position of coming home from a long day of work, only to be met by an empty pantry.

 

Hunger and its frequent companion, homelessness, is a widespread and complex issue that can’t be solved in a day. Rather, these issues will require close collaboration between communities and lawmakers to ensure that hardworking parents have the means and opportunity to provide for their children. However, this process will likely be years in the making and will not solve our real and present need. In the meantime, soup kitchens can help alleviate some of the burden that providers like the mother in the opening scenario face. Food banks and charity kitchens are vital to every community; Northwest Harvest reports that one in six Washington residents – well over a million people total – rely on their local food bank for sustenance. We need to come together as community members to aid those who struggle with hunger.

In the past few months, my family and I have taken strides to help fight the hunger epidemic in Washington. In late December, we held a dinner at the Renton Salvation Army Food Bank in Seattle. By the end of the night, we had fed over 200 people. We look forward to doing our part to end hunger in America by supporting more events in the upcoming months.

*Originally posted on PhilipWardSeattle.net

Keeping Cool: Strategies for Crisis Management

Philip Ward Washington suggests a few crisis management strategies.

 

Crisis is inevitable, especially for rising businesses. Eventually, some communication mix-ups will occur; important projects will fall apart, colleagues will clash, details will be missed, and company missteps will blare across social media platforms. In situations like these, it’s easy for CEOs and team leaders to fall into a panic and begin rushing about attempting to solve the issue – only to find that their mad attempts to patch problems has made them significantly worse.

Needless to say, crisis management can make or tank a business. Successful entrepreneurs must fight the urge to panic and keep a cool head in order to guide their company through troubling times. A few strategies for handling unforeseen company meltdowns are listed below.

Stay Calm

Employees take their behavioral cues from their leaders. Think, would you be able to rationally tackle a problem if you saw your boss storming about, raging online and snapping at employees? Keep calm and set an example for your employees by staying positive. Try to steer clear of stressful hypotheticals. Odds are, the disaster you envision befalling your company won’t occur unless you panic and grossly mishandle the situation. Stay focused and take steps to solve the issue at hand rationally!

Communicate Effectively

Communication is key, both internally and in the media. Make sure to circulate a memo or set a meeting to lay out the facts about an incident before going to the press; the last thing you need in a crisis is to see a disgruntled employee tearing the company apart online after taking office gossip as fact. Then, make a plan. Decide who will talk to the press and what they will say when they do so. Our instinctual response to accusations of wrongdoing is to defend ourselves – however, an impulsive answer can land even a well-meaning representative in hot water if their words are ill-spoken or misconstrued by the media.

Implement Preventative Measures

When faced with work-related stress, most people search for someone to blame. However, starting a witch hunt and offering up a scapegoat for the company’s problems won’t solve the core issue at hand. Take a day or so to find out the root cause of the problem. If a person or persons caused said issue, consider why and how they were able to throw the company into a problematic situation. Times of crisis are stressful and unwanted, but they also serve as learning experiences. What might your company learn about it weaknesses in a crisis? Consider the question carefully, and implement changes that will strengthen your company’s structure and systems for the future.

*Originally published on PhilipWardWashington.Strikingly.com

Quotes from Successful Innovators on Why We Shouldn’t Fear Setbacks

Philip Ward presents a series of quotes from successful innovators who believe that entrepreneurs shouldn’t fear failure.

Failure is scary. No hardworking, determined entrepreneur wants to admit defeat, or give up on a venture they’ve poured months – if not years – into developing. But sometimes, undertakings do fall flat, and entrepreneurs find themselves in the unenviable situation where they either have to pull the plug on a project or risk going under.

The fact is, businesses fail. In-business ventures fail. Sometimes, ideas simply don’t work out, and entrepreneurs are left in the dust to wonder how they can possibly move on from their dustup with defeat.

But success isn’t a one-shot game – it may seem counterintuitive, but failure is a necessary part of the business process. Without setbacks, entrepreneurs are unable to learn which approaches work, and which are better left unpracticed.

Even the most notable innovators admit to facing losses before big wins. These are a few notable quotes from successful people on their philosophy towards failure.

 

Lance Armstrong:

World Champion cyclist

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.”

 

Neal Shusterman:

Award-winning novelist

“I’d rather be partly great than entirely useless.”

 

Thomas Edison:

Renowned inventor

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

 

Bill Gates:

Co-founder of Microsoft

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

 

Mark Twain:

Internationally-renowned writer and humorist

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

 

Denis Waitley:

Noted author and motivational speaker

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing”

 

Vince Lombardi:

Noted American football coach

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

 

Chris Hardwick:

American comedian

“No human ever became interesting by not failing. The more you fail and recover and improve, the better you are as a person. Ever meet someone who’s always had everything work out for them with zero struggle? They usually have the depth of a puddle. Or they don’t exist.”

 

Christopher Morley:

Noted Poet

“There is only one success- to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

 

Albert Schweitzer:

Nobel Prize winner

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

 

Adam Osborne:

Noted entrepreneur and author

“The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake- you can’t learn anything from being perfect.”

 

Winston Churchill:

Former UK Prime Minister

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

 

John Green:

American novelist

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?”

*Originally published on PhilipWardWashington.com