I’m a huge believer in delegation.
I believe, if we keep doing the things we do, we don’t make room for elevation.
We don’t make room to explore, wander, learn and evolve.
I could fill my day with the dishes, with looking after Aru 24-7, with designing for all my clients, with writing email replies that I’ve already written 100 times before.
But, how far am I going to get in the long term?
I’ll likely still be struggling with the same juggle.
Hence the argument. Get help.
Spend your well earnt time on learning and developing.
Rant over. Learning starts!
- Set the terms clearly from day one.
If the job sounds horrid when they take it, they’ll be grateful it isn’t as bad when they show up. I’ll often tell my designers that they will be taking calls, grabbing coffees for clients and picking up print jobs. I make it sound worse than it is so that only the keen people will stay.
If you need to change major aspects of their role, give them advance notice. I’ve learnt this the hard way. Once we had to streamline from 2 full time designers to 2 part time. We didn’t do it well. We made them casual and didn’t really give them any security about their futures. I’ll always regret this. They were beautiful girls who weren’t ready to be part-timers or freelancers. What they knew was stability and we could have done a better job of working with them to help them out.
We’re so wired to care about our side of the story, we forget to see theirs. Try as much as you can to give them a heads up.
- They aren’t you, so don’t expect them to perform exactly as you would.
Notice the things they do differently and appreciate them. It’s a layer of enhancement. It’s taken me so long to grasp that my staff simply won’t think like me. I’ve had a different 10 years past than they have. That is all there is to it.
- That said, feedback is essential.
Try limiting it to 1-2 items per session. People can’t really take in more than that and they probably don’t want to. My current designer, Chee takes my serves all the time. He never complains but I really don’t want him to mulling over things any more than is reasonable for him.
- Feel awkward giving critical feedback?
I wasted years of my designers time on this hesitation. My need to be nice to her lost her the best thing I could give her – self development. If I had the courage to be honest, she would have developed SO MUCH MORE in her role.
- When things aren’t getting done OR if there is room for confusion, write it down.
Sometimes, you’ll forget. Sometimes, they’ll forget. I tell my staff to “add it to your calendar” when I feel something might be getting regularly missed. I ask my nannies to send me a Whatsapp message with the amounts owing from the days work, so then I’ve got it in writing when I need to pay them and there is no confusion.
- Gradually let them in.
Over time, much, much time, give some of yourself, some of your home, some of your care to them. Don’t ever expect anything in return. But give. A little. If it’s a cooked meal. If it’s an afternoon off. If it’s forgiveness. If it’s personal support. Give. This means more to them that any digit in their account. It means you care.
Over the years, I’ve gotten better at this. I used to keep my distance because watching people go is always painful for me, no matter how it went down. But now, I’ve told Em (my previous designer) about my counsellor, we had many a conversation about Aru and she even looked after him one afternoon. I’ve told Barbara to stay back for dinner, or stay over if she’s working the next day and I like to give her chai and eggs. She tells me about red tea and the childhood memories of rationed food in Chile. It’s a two way street.
- There are often nitty gritty specifics to a role. Say it. Don’t hold back.
Because those specifics will come around again. And that is when you will be glad you addressed them the first time round. From how to put Aru to into the cot to where his pants go, every time it’s done wrong, you will be frustrated and it won’t be their fault.
- Have the train up their successor.
Trust me, even if it means you have to pay for another half day, do it. It’s worth it’s weight in gold and your staff improve every time because they’re learning your way AND your support’s way. Aru’s first nanny, Barbara, told Edith how she did everything. Down to minor details like which toys he likes to play with during dinner time (he always wants something in his hands). She also taught him that Aru likes being talked to, being explained things. Edith does this all the time with him and it’s helped their relationship so much.
- You’re the leader.
Make sure you are assertive. Clear. Frank. Strong.
You can be friends on the side. But they are here for a purpose. Ensure they are fulfilling that purpose. They need you to lead them if they aren’t. It’s just as much your responsibility as it is theirs.