What you need done might be your team's quick and painful death
What you need done might be your team's quick and painful death
One of the biggest problems when you have a team in your business is communication. People misunderstand what’s needed, they don’t know what is top priority, or they don’t stop to clarify what’s the true assignment. This communication breakdown often causes the death of your team’s relationship, and can actually cause an endless cycle of hiring and firing. That cycle really puts a dent in your business’s productivity, because onboarding a new hire takes a lot of time and effort that needs to be spent elsewhere.
Luckily, I’ve created this really helpful Method for you to make your delegation smooth and effortless every time you hand off a task. It’s called the TRUST Method, and it’s based on many years of experience working with various teams, as both a team member and as a team leader.
T is for TASK
First, you have to communicate what actually needs to be done. In my experience, there’s no such thing as too much information up front. Describing what needs to be done, and where is cornerstone to actually having the task completed.
Along with the needs of the task, you’ll want to communicate the boundaries and authority that the delegee has within the scope of the task. What decision is too big for the delegee, or where should they be escalating to the leader for a decision? A real-life example of this happened with me and one of my clients. She’s a Branding Coach, and when we were doing course set-up, the visual layout of the student interface was a HUGE element of the course’s success. I couldn’t simply make the decisions about where all of the on-screen elements went or the display colors for each of them. This was extremely important to her and her brand because of the nature of her business.
One specific way to make sure you’re clear on the instructions is to include specific examples, or templates for what you need done. Speaking of templates, I’ve included a TRUST Method template here for you that you can download and use with your team.
R is for RESOURCES
This one is simple. Ask yourself what specific resources do you need for the task you’re trying to delegate to a team member. Some common examples are specific equipment, software access, tracking documents, project management programs or templates, and even a procedures manual. In some cases, there are security levels and confidentiality agreements that have to be in place before the work can be completed. Are all of these pieces complete?
To make this really effective, in your project management software, include links to each of the resources the team needs to complete the task.
Are you not currently using a project management software that meets your needs? How about trying out Teamwork - it has projects, tasks, charts, reports, and even integrated time-tracking. It blows Asana out of the water if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution.
U is for Usual Method
Every company should have a set of Standard Operating Procedures. In fact, most already do, whether or not they actually have them written down. They don’t have to be complicated, and in fact, the most basic way to document any of the work that you do is to create a list of step you take each time you do something for your business. You don’t even have to write out complete sentences, because you’re not getting graded on the word count here. A document with a title - the name of the task you’re explaining - and a list of bullet-pointed steps is a perfect start.
I like to use a Google Drive folder here, and I keep a separate document for each of the various tasks that my business completes. You can get really secure here and create a member-only section of your website, or even create a Notebook within your Teamwork application that only people within your organization can access.
Within your procedures, you’re going to want to lay out everything that needs to be done, what level of detail you include is up to you. If you’re really specific that tasks get completed in a certain order and a certain way, then you’ll benefit by going into extreme detail here with screenshots, examples, and approval levels.
S is for SCHEDULE
Simply put - when is your deadline? The harsh reality here is that nothing without a due-date gets completed in a timely fashion in today’s hustle-environment. Clearly communicate what your deadline is on your task.
If you can, including a short description of why the deadline is what it is, can be helpful to keeping people prioritizing their work appropriately. If you know that there is something that can’t be done until the task is finished, note that within the task description so that your team understands the urgency. Arbitrary deadlines aren’t effective. Put a reason and logic around them.
Another element to remember here is to outline what happens if a due date is in danger. Do you have a specific escalation process? When do you need to know that it’s in danger? Is there a penalty for missing the deadline? What happens if part-way through the task there’s a roadblock? Who needs to be notified and how soon? All of these questions can help prevent last-minute conflict.
T is for TABOO
And we’re not talking party games here. Sometimes when you have a list of tasks, there’s something in the list that you know has an issue, or needs to wait for some reason. Clearly note that within the task.
I’d like to share a story about this here. In my corporate life, I screwed something up pretty bad once, for lack of communication. I was going along doing my normal project management clean-up work, and I found some unfinished work. I notified the appropriate manager. Four days later, the work was still not completed, so in my ‘housekeeping’ role, I went in and cleaned up the tasks. As it turns out, there was a task in there that needed to wait. Had the task been marked as ‘leave this alone’ it would have been left alone. Alternatively, had they asked me not to clean up the work, I wouldn’t have. In these cases, and in many other cases in business, no response is not clear communication.
Do yourself a favor and make sure you have a clear do/don’t do tagging system for your work, and you can save yourself headaches, clean-up emergencies, fire-fighting, and lots of hurt feelings.
On that same token, if there’s something in the task list that you are working on yourself, even though you delegated it originally, communicate that with email, tags, or notes on the project. Duplicating efforts is frustrating for everyone, and it’s also wasteful - don’t pay two people to spend time working on the same tasks.
The TRUST Method can really save your team from imploding. Everyone will be a lot happier, and your business will run more smoothly when you’re communicating clearly and openly. There’s enough opportunity for people to have conflict outside of your business and building TRUST makes work a lot more enjoyable.