By Jacki Hart, CLP
'Spring has sprung
The grass has 'riz'
And it's time for you
To get down to 'biz'!
It's April, the snow's gone, and the lid just blew off of your down time. Are you feeling excited? Energized? Positive? A bit anxious? Stressed? Rushed? Spread thin?
April is such a bittersweet month in our industry. We finally get to come out of hibernation, shed the layers, and breathe in the excitement of spring. Every spring there never seems enough time between that fantastic energizing feeling from doing what we're passionate about - finally handling plants, soil and the materials of our work palette - and the exhaustion which sets into both mind and body from long hours, sleepy muscles, never-ending lists of stuff to be done before we can go to bed. The challenge of being so good at what you do, is that this month and next, you are busier than you can reasonably handle. It seems every customer wants to be next on your list, and that your co-workers and staff can never have enough training or knowledge to truly take the ball and run with it — or can they?
Delegating is a tough thing to master. I often hear business owners and supervisors say, "I always have to check things are done right. They often aren't, so I have to fix it. I may as well have done it myself in the first place, so next time, I do." Does this sound familiar? If so, you're not alone.
Somewhere in the soupy mix of tasks to be done, hours available to do them, and skills available to apply to each task, is the opportunity to take that huge to-do list, and even out the work load. You can start by being really clear on which tasks TRULY need your expertise. Which tasks literally nickle and dime you to distraction? Are they the ones that are simple, repetitive, predictable and always left to you to check on?
OK then, (here we go again), grab a pad of paper, a cup of relaxation, head for your comfy chair, and make a new plan.
Think about delegating tasks, which if planned in advance, could be done on a regular or predictable schedule. Is it watering of plants that seems to fall on your shoulders? Checking tires, oil, trailer lights, fuel levels or mixing gas? Checking the Internet for the next day's/week's weather? Ordering skids of sod, or loads of aggregates, or a container? How often do you pile on more stuff to do, when if you really look at it, someone else could do. This could happen if you'd just let go of the tools needed to do it, and entrust the job to someone else?
It took me forever to realize that after years of over-stuffing my brain with things to do — especially the stuff I just figured I'd remember to do without writing it down — sooner or later I would exceed my capacity to function properly. It's the less likely I could be creative, thoughtful and PRESENT in the moment with a client. Your mind wanders to 'what's next?' or 'not yet done', and you lose the ability to let your passion shine through to your customers. You forget to return calls. When you do remember, your tone of voice is noticeably intense or stressed. Sometime your attention wanders from the conversation, because your mind is on something else.
Make a list of what you need to do more and that no one else in your company can do. Then make a list of what you need to do less of. Can someone else, if shown how and given simple guidelines, do it?
Owners of a company DON'T need to call in a sod order, mulch order, or check oil in equipment or vehicles. Honest. You just need to be clear, and set a standard for how and when these things are to be done, communicate it clearly, delegate it to someone who is interested (and maybe passionate about) it and get busy with YOUR job. Remember that's the job that feeds you and keeps your tank full.
If your company has grown to a point where it is larger than you, and you need help to get the work done, then share the load so that you can keep your tank full. Stop bleeding it dry by taking it all on. You might be pleasantly surprised how others on your team will jump at the chance for your trust and a new challenge. You may also be surprised at how much more energy you have to lead and teach them, rather than pick up their slack.
Keep your stick on the ice!