I have a few talents, but the glaring gaps in my capabilities astound even me on occasion. Being a female of the í60s and í70s, we were expected to do it all, baby. Bring home the bacon, cook the bacon, clean the bacon mess and look darn good doing it. Thatís what we did and still do (except for the looking darn good doing it, perhaps).
What a disappointment to figure out that I really canít do it all and do it all well. As women we often accentuate the negative and beat ourselves up over the things we donít do well, rather than concentrating on what we do best and hiring somebody else to fill in the gaps. Really, if truth be known, I would have been much more successful if I could just have had a really good wife; somebody to do the multitude of tiny things that trip me up while I do the big things like slaying dragons and making draperies and stuff. Thatís why I think guys have it so much easier being successful. They have somebody to layout their clothes in the morning. Thatís it. The secret to success: somebody to man or woman the home front.
I remember the morning that I stumbled around not wanting to wake my family. Not being able to find my robe in the dark, I slapped on a jacket that was draped over the chair and my jeans from the day before.
I made a pot of coffee, checked my e-mail, visited with my little coffee drinking bud (hubby) and shot out the door for work. At the office I zipped open my jacket to discover . . . Wow, do I need someone to remind me to get dressed for work!
As it turned out, I went to a Toastmasters Club meeting that day and was called on to speak on the topic, ďHow My Life Would be Different If I Were the Opposite Sex.Ē I said to the group, ďGlad you asked! How apropos as I stand here before you shirtless under my jacket.Ē (Note to self: Get someone to delegate these seemingly meaningless, but oh so necessary, tasks to.)
THEYíRE GOOD AT IT, ITíS THEIR JOB
By passing tasks to others we can learn to expand our horizons by delegation. You see there is a neat little trick about having employees and delegating jobs to them. You can assign them jobs you really stink at. Iím not necessarily talking about janitorial duties; Iím talking about rubber-to-the-road, profit-making, policy-driving jobs that they can do better.
For example, I am a marshmallow; a complete pushover. Ask me anything, I canít tell you ďNoĒ unless I am really in a bad mood. However, I have employees assigned to stand up and say ďNo.Ē Thatís their job. Theyíre good at it because thatís their job. I can sit down, make policy based on sound business principles, pass the company policy onto the employees and bingo. A ďNoĒ is based on policy and said by someone whose job it is to say it. Granted, the occasional tough customer can push through the firewall to the marshmallow, but most donít.
I have a problem with pricing, too, which can be the kiss of death to a sound business. The little old lady customers are cute, and I start feeling all warm inside about them and then I start giving away the store. My estimators, who do it for a living, suffer from no such warm squishy feelings. They are good at it; I am not. Itís their job.
I have said for years that one of the best things business owners can do is know themselves. By knowing ourselves, we can play to our strengths and direct others to use their strengths where we are weak. By being glaringly honest about what we are not good at, we can start to develop a team of people better than ourselves in the places that count. After all, a team is only as good as its weakest part. Workroom owners can find their businesses being adversely affected by not surrounding themselves with good people who can shore up the places that need attention.
An orchestra might be a good analogy for a well-run business. Surely, the conductor canít play every instrument, but he still leads and directs. Each member tends to his or her own area as best he can under the direction of the conductor. As business owners thatís what we areóweíre delegators and directors. We decide where to go, how to get there and who is going to go along for the ride. But we canít do it all. We canít fill the wagon, push the wagon, guide the wagon and look at the map all at the same time. We have to have help. We can be the guiding hand, the forward thinker and the policy setter, but we canít do it all. Donít become a workroom owner who not only does all the wagon work, but also lets the employees ride in the wagon while you do the work all in the name of ďmy way is the only right way.Ē
In this series about delegation we have talked about growth, survival, and building a sound business by learning to delegate, because without delegation we can stunt our growth, fail to survive and build weak businesses. As we move forward with our businesses, letís concentrate less on doing it all and more on looking good while we do it, because thatís what a good, well-oiled team with members who know their jobs and are trusted to do those jobs will do . . . theyíll make you look good. Try it. Youíll be surprised how nice it is to be in that wagon, correction, looking good in that wagon.
Mary Ann Plumlee is the CEO and founder of Workroom Association of America LLC , a trade association dedicated specifically to the betterment of the workroom industry. Visit www.workroomassociation.com to learn more.