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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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

So You Want to Be an Entrepreneur? (These Are Your First Steps)

From afar, an entrepreneur’s job seems like the dream. Those who start their own businesses don’t need to wake up early for the nine-to-five grind,  answer to a demanding boss, or take on unwanted tasks. Instead, they have the chance to follow their own schedule, set their own assignments, and bask in their own success. Entrepreneurship is the dream – so why aren’t more people breaking free of the corporate mold and starting off on their own paths?

Firstly, because starting a business is much, much harder than it appears from the outside. According to statistics from Business Insider, over 543,000 businesses are launched each month in the United States by hopeful entrepreneurs. However, findings from the Small Business Administration reveal that only half of those small businesses will survive beyond their initial five years.

There’s no getting around the numbers: launching a startup is risky business. Moreover, committing to the task means agreeing to hard work, long hours, and absolutely no guarantees. However, if you have a passion that keeps you up at night – one that drives you, and makes you want to risk everything in its pursuit – entrepreneurship might be the path for you. Here are the first steps you should take when embarking on the entrepreneurial journey.

 

Lay out your ideas.

You can’t quit your job and decide to start a business just because you want to work your own hours. You need a passion, and a rock-solid business idea. Take the time to sit down and write out your thoughts on what the foundation for your business will be. If all goes well, you’ll be spending years of your life on this venture – you want your root idea to be strong!

 

Do your research

Small businesses fill a need in your community. Do your research – does your idea suit gaps in the local market? Will there be a consumer base for your service or product? Find out quickly – the last thing you want to do is watch the business you’ve poured time, effort, and money into flop because the community has no need for it.

If you have no experience with starting a business, you should additionally consider researching the process to find out what you need to do from an organizational and legal standpoint. Visit the small business associations comprehensive resource page for helpful guides on a wide swath of relevant topics.

 

Build a support system.

Let your friends and family in on your plans. Even in the best scenario, you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time and energy on your entrepreneurial efforts, and need the understanding support of those closest to you. Give them an honest outline of what you expect to be doing, and explain that you may have less available time as you commit to launching your business. When you inevitably face business setbacks, you will need a sympathetic support system to help you bounce back and tackle the problem.

 

Commit to the process.

Building a business takes time. You’ll work long nights, face difficult tasks, and wonder when you’ll see returns on the time you’ve invested. On the hardest days, you might even worry that you should have kept to the security of your previous job.

But after successfully starting several of my own businesses, I can honestly say that passion wins out over entrepreneurial difficulties every time. I love developing and maintaining my own businesses – and it isn’t simply because I work my own hours, and set my own tasks. Rather, it’s because I know that I’m following my passion, and putting in the work to make my dreams come true.

 

Despite the risks, I wouldn’t trade being an entrepreneur for all the job security in the world – and if you have spirit enough to build your own business, neither should you.

 

*This post was originally published on philipwardwashington.com