BUSINESS MANAGEMENT 101 : Knowing When To Ask, Demand, Do It yourself.
[THE COMPLEXITY AND THE NUANCES OF BUSINESS + LIFE]
I was just in a situation where someone said "Give me one of those..." and to summarize I felt like "could you please hand me...." would have been a more respectful way to ask. I got to thinking about this. Am I the type of person who would extend the same courtesy? I would most certainly ask instead of demand in that situation, and then I thought, "I probably wouldn't ask at all. I'd just go and do it myself".
Now this was just a personal interaction. It had nothing to do with business, but (as I tend to do) I started thinking how I could apply it to business. There's so many people taking the DIY route these days, and hell I've been a part of the dialogue that says if you're doing everything yourself, you're doing it wrong. BUT there’s good in all of it: asking, demanding, doing it yourself, and I want to break down the positives and the negatives of each!
Do you know:
>> when to ask?
>> when to demand?
>> and when to do it yourself?
I believe it starts by understanding management, leadership and what kind of leader would you like to be? I want to be the type of leader that's approachable, energetic, passionate, encouraging, empowering, motivating, knowledgeable, and makes everyone around me better. What kind of leader do you want to be?
I think the thing most people get wrong is that they let the “power” go to their head and lose track of how they make others feel. So let’s talk about it, and how to make a better effort to lead in the right way.
WHEN TO DO IT YOURSELF!
There’s that age old saying “if you want it done right, you’ve gotta do it yourself”, and I’ll admit there’s lots of truth to that. No one is going to do something exactly how you would do it, and someone new to a process needs time to make their mistakes and learn from them as you did. My shop girl days taught me quite a bit about this and I’ll break them down here.
TRUST- you have to trust others. You can’t do EVERYTHING yourself. If you have a team of employees all you can do is train them to the best of your abilities and then you have to set them free to mess up and learn. It’s your job to step in during teachable moments and encourage their development, but you don’t want to do their job for them, or show them that you’ll fix their mistakes for them all the time.
On the other hand you want to be a fair leader that never asks someone to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself. Leadership is about team building and it’s important to not make your people feel like you’re taking advantage, and asking them to do something you could easily do yourself. Delegating tasks is a delicate balance. You want to jump in and help when you see the need for it. You want to make sure your people see you out there getting your hands dirty with them. You don’t want to take advantage of your role as a leader. That’s a very quick way to piss people off and upset morale in the workplace. Then you also have to know when it’s ok to pass things off, so you can focus on responsibilities that are completely yours.
If you’re thinking “Amanda I don’t have employees. It’s just me. I HAVE to do everything myself” I would argue that you still need to work on TRUSTING other professionals to come in and help you. There’s gotta be something you could outsource, no? And I could certainly challenge any excuse you could give me about why doing it yourself isn’t the ONLY option. Let’s explore:
Excuse: I can’t afford to outsource anything.
This is only a fair statement if your business is less than six months old. If your business is any older than that and you still don’t have a morsel of a budget to outsource even the least expensive of business assistance there’s a bigger issue at hand. Why isn’t your business turning enough profit for you to budget in that help? It doesn’t have to be ongoing help. It can be over the duration of a project, or over a couple days to help with something you don’t know enough about.
What this usually comes down to, when people throw around the “I can’t afford it”, is that they CHOOSE not to budget for those kinds of expenses and take a bigger payday, OR they’ve invested in THINGS rather than people (that don’t have an ROI) because there’s too many unknowns around hiring someone else rather than having complete control and doing it yourself.
And here’s the bigger issue with this:
YOUR BUSINESS IS GOING TO HAVE TO HIRE A STAFF SOME DAY! So you might want to get used to trusting people now. At some point your business is going to have to hire an entire staff and you’re going to have to manage them, or at the very least manage the people who manage them. It’s in your best interest to work out how you want to lead now while things are small, so you aren’t blindsided later on.
Excuse: I had a bad experience hiring someone. I got completely taken advantage of.
I’m sorry. Unfortunately this does happen, but it’s still not a great excuse for why you won’t hire someone EVER again. Please re-read the above paragraph on hiring a staff . You’re just avoiding the inevitable and you’re keeping your business from growing by not allowing yourself to get back out there and trust again.
This is a great place where DEMANDING actually comes in handy! Because it’s the trifecta of these three parts and knowing when to use each that makes you a magical leader!
Ok, so you’ve got someone you want to hire! You need to VET them appropriately. Most bad hires (even if it’s just a temporary outsource) are a side effect of not having properly done your research on them. The price was too good to be true. You didn’t check references, or referrals, or testimonials. You didn’t take a good look at their portfolio. You didn’t sign a contract. Etc. Etc. You MUST protect yourself, and that is why it’s absolutely necessary to have non negotiables. To set boundaries. To come prepared with CLEAR expectation on communication and deadlines. Of course, this isn’t license to be a rude asshole about it, but it’s perfectly acceptable to know what you want, and be willing to cut ties with that person if they don’t deliver...which is a great segway into….
WHEN TO DEMAND
Demanding sounds really rude and uninspiring, but demanding has a lot to do with accountability and holding YOURSELF and others to a high standard of communication, execution, and development. Demanding doesn’t actually involve being rude at all. It means setting expectation for what you want and how you want it (in fairness) to protect yourself and others from being taken advantage of. It’s about RESPECT. Respecting yourself and others with policies and requirements. Demanding certain things for your business, your week, your month, your internal brand culture and staffing morale sets you up for success! The most productive work environments are those that make sure everyone is clear on the objectives and how to conduct themselves.
Of course setting all of this in place means nothing if you aren’t willing to follow up and hold people to their agreements. When standards and expectations aren’t met, you will have to have accountability conversations around the non-negotiables and how you can help them work through their understanding of the regulations put in place. This is an opportunity for growth and improvement, NOT to be looked at as an opportunity to belittle and discipline.
WHEN TO ASK
Asking is hard, isn’t it? It’s hard to ask for help, but this is very much when asking is absolutely the most important. To be honest, I’m soooo sick of the word “struggle”, because far too many people are using it to sell something. BUT if you are in fact struggling with anything it’s ok to ask for help! I like to think of my business friends as my ask task force! These are the people I trust more than anything to bounce ideas off of, to ask for business referrals and to ask for HELP!
The best kinds of leaders know when they’re too swamped in work and when to throw up the white flag and get some help. It’s ok to reach out and ask someone that doesn’t typically handle certain responsibilities to lend a hand. It’s ok to ask when you don’t know enough about something. It’s ok to ask lots and lots and lots of questions.
Asking questions is the most underrated development tool on the planet. Asking makes you a great leader! Asking vs telling is one of the most invaluable tools to my entire coaching program, and my success as a manager. Here’s what I know! Asking someone a question vs telling them the answer helps in numerous ways. It helps me identify what the person knows, and what they don’t. It gives me a look inside how they process information, which can help me better coach them.
In my shop girl days we would always follow up training with questions because the question helps people remember, and knowing I’m going to come back and ask again would help employees get prepared. When someone has to speak vs just listen, and answer it keeps them INVOLVED, and much more aware of what’s going on.
If you were under the impression that there was only one way to be, or that the way you talk and interact with people didn’t matter, I hope this helped you understand that it DOES matter a whole lot, and that all three actions are good for different reasons in different situations. Your leadership style is the glue that will hold your team together, no matter how big or small. Personal and professional development never stops, even for incredible leaders, so start now! Ask yourself how do you want to inspire others and dedicate yourself to that growth.