Don’t Touch That!
Learning to “let go” is one of the toughest things to do at work sometimes
My 22 year old daughter called yesterday to tell me she’s getting an intern. We just hired a recent college grad at theONswitch. The fine art of interviewing and delegation is a big step, especially when you’re young and have never managed anyone before. (When I was in my 20s, I could barely manage myself. Suddenly having a “staff” was flattering but a bit overwhelming.)
We as professionals think we can always do things better ourselves. But a business can’t grow unless we develop trust in others and figure out how to best use others’ talents to get more done in less time. Plus, new brains (especially young ones) can bring us ideas and skills that we don’t possess.
What are the keys to delegating?
- Hire well. Look for people who possess the right values and work ethic and are the right “fit” with your culture. You can always teach skills. But talent and commitment are non-negotiables. (If you make a hiring mistake, be bold and quick in firing well too.)
- Train well. Develop a curriculum and timetable that spans 90 days. Much like an academic path, craft it so that the person you’re training knows your expectations. And invest the time and patience in teaching skills. Let your new hire “shadow” you.
- Manage well. Be a committed, calm, and compassionate boss, not a bully boss. Tolerate mistakes. That’s how people learn. Our new hire accidentally deleted my blog on her third day at work. We both laughed about it, fixed the problem, and moved on. I realized that I hadn’t spent enough time teaching her, and we both learned something from the experience. Do not be afraid to give “stretch” assignments to young people. I learned how to swim when I was in the deep end of the pool. (Make sure the lifeguard — you — is always on duty.)
- Reward well. Money is not the only motivator (although it’s pretty damned good). Sometimes just a few words of praise can ensure that your new hire feels valued. New and fun experiences and spiffs (like visits to conferences, a random gift card, or even a free lunch) show you care and are invested in the relationship. Here are some tips about millennials and rewards.
Millennials often possess abilities that we Boomers don’t. Respecting what others know is key to making that cross-gen relationship work. Stay close, stay involved, treat your team members with respect, and be a strong but fair leader. One day, when my daughter and my new associate are running their own companies or heading up teams at organizations, or simply leading Girl Scout troops, I would love them to think, “Damn! That Boomer chick was right at least about a few things.” This one’s for you, kids!
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