CoatingsPro Magazine

JAN 2013

CoatingsPro offers an in-depth look at coatings based on case studies, successful business operation, new products, industry news, and the safe and profitable use of coatings and equipment.

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MARkETING SAVVy Overcoming 'Victim of Your Own Success' Syndrome By Chris McIntyre Pop Quiz: If you disappeared tomorrow for six months, could your coatings crew or company survive without you? T he answer given by most small business leaders—from crew bosses to project managers to heads of companies—is a resounding "NO!" One major challenge faced by business leaders is that of becoming "a victim of your own success." In other words, a leader may become indispensable, or trapped in a particular role beneath an invisible ceiling that may in a way squelch greater talent and actually work against the long term, ultimate success of the company. One way leaders overcome "victim of your own success syndrome" is by empowering their crews, teams, or managers with more important work. To do so requires accountability, clearly articulated. Understanding four elements of accountability helps accomplish that goal: 1. Why is the task necessary? 2. Who owns the task? 3. What is the desired outcome? 4. Who owns the process? Answering these four questions will clarify the importance, responsibility, and authority for any delegated task. It will also help identify individual and team developmental needs. why Is the Task Necessary? Start by defining why the task is necessary in the first place. If it's not valuable, why do it, right? If delegates are not clear as to why tasks are being delegated, they may classify the job as a low priority or ignore the request. Four key questions leaders should have answered before assigning tasks include: 22 CoatingsPro g January 2013 • Why is the task necessary? • To what business goal is the task tied? • How does the task support key customers, products, or services? • How does the task contribute to the bottom line? To the extent possible, provide as much context for why the task is necessary in order to save you time in the long run. Future potential superstars on your team want to know that the task means something. who owns the Task? With the strategic why in mind, pick the best owner for the task. Always have a genuine reason for choosing a particular person to run with a task. Communicating that reason communicates deliberate leadership. But choose wisely. Random delegation equates to lazy leadership that may ultimately damage your image and create people problems. Once the task has been assigned, have the person chosen acknowledge responsibility for it. Ask "OK, so do you have it?" or words to that effect. It may seem like over-engineering the process, but I can't count how many times I've watched leaders never "officially" hand off a task. Instead they talk around it—or invite "anyone" to think about it when what they really wanted was for someone specific to do something specific. Make sure the team knows the difference between the leader brainstorming with the group and actually delegating work. Every project or sub-project must have one clear owner. what Is the Desired outcome? With why (value) and who (owner) established, it's now time for a clear agreement as to what should actually be accom- plished. What specifically is the desired outcome? What does "done" look like? The outcome may be crystal clear in your mind, but the trick is getting the outcome to be just as clear in the mind of the person chosen to perform the task. As the one about to delegate a task, understanding the answers to these questions in advance will help you clarify a clear outcome: • At what point is this particular issue off my radar? • How exactly will I objectively measure the outcome? • What does "the wrong way" look like? • What is better or different after task completion? Here is a classic example of how easily miscommunication may occur: Let's say you tell a worker you want customer service processes improved. That seems pretty simple, right? You have an idea of what that means and so does your employee. So your worker marches off and improves your website. In his mind, improving the website means creating an entirely new sense of interaction that will improve the customer experience. This may be true, but it wasn't the task you had in mind at all. You simply wanted to improve the way customer complaints about product delivery were handled. When that kind of miscommunication occurs, arguments ensue, trust is lost, and no one wins. You're frustrated because the worker should have known what you meant (especially since you were just talking about product delivery errors). Your future potential superstar is angry because he did exactly what he thought you told him to do — and in his eyes, you never seem satisfied. Meanwhile, the problem still exists and the company is still losing customers because they're receiving the wrong products.

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