As any high achiever knows, handing a task off to another human being creates a knot in the solar plexus. Will they do it right? As well as I would? Can I trust them?
And as a founder, that takes on a whole different level of angst, because this company is your baby, and you built it from the tiniest molecule and brought it to life. So if you’re an active (or recovering) perfectionist, here’s a great question to start asking yourself before every task:
Who can do this who is not me?
This typically sparks a feeling of either panic or dread: The panic that there’s not enough help, or that there is, but you’re not sure if they’ll do it right.
What a fabulous learning moment this is for you as a founder and leader.
The art of delegation is definitely a matter of trust — and more importantly, it’s about providing clear instructions to others, and ensuring those instructions are understood. If you’ve assigned someone a task, and they haven’t completed it correctly, consider that you haven’t provided adequate instruction, clarity, or detail. Or you haven’t had them repeat things back so you’re clear the communication was received.
When we’re talking about remote teams scattered around the globe, this clarity in communication is absolutely critical to your operation, because cultural nuance, idiomatic language, and other potential barriers can make things unclear.
You might worry that your team members will get prickly when you say “Please repeat that back to me,” because it brings them back to primary school, but you can alleviate that by setting things up with the following words:
I’m developing my communication as the company founder, so I’ll ask you to repeat my instructions back to me so I know I’ve been clear.
When you can own the process and results in that way, it makes you fully accountable for the emerging culture and communication style, and gives your team members room to grow. It also sets an example for when they have teams of their own to lead.
So the next time you’re frustrated with someone who hasn’t completed a task the right way, I invite you to stop and check with yourself first: Did you offer clear instructions? It might be worth it to ask them what they heard vs. what you thought you said (this is for your benefit even more than theirs).
Once you master your own communication, you can build a powerful team of leaders who help elevate you and your company to the scale you envisioned.
Global Round-Up is our Friday collection of interesting tidbits and tools from around the globe, curated to support women founders as they scale their ideas.