Delegation is a skill that when done properly, saves you time, creates a circle of support, and enables you to achieve much more than you could on your own. Last week we discussed providing clear direction when assigning work, this week we'll look at the art of hiring the right person.
Hiring the wrong person wastes huge amounts of money invested in people not capable of delivering what you need them to do. It also steals massive quantities of time you did not budget. Women have particular difficulty delegating--as they often don't want to burden others who may have full plates, are afraid to ask for what they need, and are hesitant to be too probing when interviewing.
My client, Susan, came to me with a history of poor delegation experiences. Whether hiring a handyman, housekeeper, assistant, or architect, she always ended up shocked and disappointed at the work they produced, feeling like all the dollars (and hours) she invested went swooshing down the drain.
The latest: she'd hired a chef/nutritionist to put together a menu plan for the family to ensure the variety and balance they needed. Her assumption was she would get a complete program - 30 days of menus, no two days alike, with all the recipes to go with it. After paying a small fortune, you can imagine her shock, when all the nutritionist sent was shopping guidelines, a handful of meal suggestions, and about a dozen recipes. In analyzing the history of their communication, we discovered where Susan had gone wrong--she'd been very unclear about what she'd hired the nutritionist to do.
I suggested Susan reach back out to the woman, explain the mistake, and ask what it would take to get what she wanted. Here's what she learned:
It took me a while to work up the nerve to write to the nutritionist. Her response came today. Seems she has a very different approach to food - I was looking for a structured, detailed plan I could simply follow; her philosophy about food is based on improvisation. And, she doesn't have the "bank" of recipes in her database I'd assumed she did, she believes in cooking based on what looks fresh in the market that day. Ah, well. Looks like she was never the right match.
Through coaching, I gave Susan an organized process for improving her batting average with future hires.
- Define your expectations. Sit down with pen and paper and ask yourself (sans guilt)...How will I measure success for the money I am investing in this person? What do I expect they will bring to the project or task that I can't do myself? List the time, skills, and talent you imagine this person needs to do this job (i.e. creativity, flexibility, speed, integrity, etc.), and devise questions that will probe at their skills in each area. Being crystal clear on what you want makes it easier to recognize the right resource when you find it.
- Interview based on historic performance, not future vision. When interviewing, we often ask questions in hypothetical terms--e.g. "How WOULD you do something..."which only produces answers based on what the candidate thinks you want to hear. History (or behavior) based interviewing stems from the belief that the greatest indicator of future success is past behavior. Try asking for examples from past job experiences, using questions that begin- "Tell me about a time when..." or "Give me an example of a moment that..." You'll be amazed at what you hear. By listening to each candidate's detailed stories of what they have ACTUALLY done, you are in a FAR BETTER position to evaluate if they are a good match for your needs, and have the experience to deliver on your goals.
- Comparison Shop (at least three candidates). Susan had hired this chef/nutritionist without doing her homework. It was on a whim, following a cooking class she'd taken with her at a local college. Susan was so enamoured with the woman's knowledge about food, she assumed creating a menu plan would be a cinch. Always interview at least three candidates, so you have options to compare and contrast. Shopping allows you to pick the person who is the best match for your specific needs, and often helps you learn what is reasonable to expect.
Taking the time to be clear and methodical when hiring, may take longer up front, but it could surely help save you beaucoup dollars (and precious time) in the end.