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Train, Trust and Empower Your Employees


Every day those who are qualified to lead are given the opportunity to do so. It’s an exciting change and a world of responsibility that can alter your workflow. No longer are you responsible for a few projects, but now, you’ve got a team to manage and inspire. However, with this appointment, it can be difficult for many to let go and not try to do all the work themselves.

Enter the challenge: Assigning work to others.

A lot of times we talk ourselves out of delegating the work. We may feel we can do the work better ourselves, that we may not have enough time to explain the project or that we just end up enjoying the work so much, we forget to bring others into the mix. If you’re not careful, at the end of the day, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the work at hand and you can begin to feel unnecessary stress and anxiety of deadlines. So how can you prevent this?

Here are 9 principles to keep in mind to help you better delegate the work and build a stronger team in the process:

1. Create an atmosphere that promotes goals and ways to expand

Make an effort to connect with your team on a regular basis about what leaders are thinking for the future of the business. Be open to new ideas and processes. Encourage your employees to set goals for their work and how they may align them with broader strategic goals for your team or company.

2. Build a trusting relationship with your employees

Have regular one-on-one sessions with your employees. Request that your employee outline beforehand prepared points of discussion such as work to review, quick wins throughout the week and any challenges that you can bring support to. To a reasonable level, use this time to gain a better understanding of how the employee is doing personally outside of work.

3. Set clear expectations for the delegated work

Be sure to communicate what you expect from the work that you delegate. If you don’t level set an expectation, it won’t be met.

4. Have a regular program of training and sharpening skills necessary for the role

There is always a better way of doing things. Don’t let your team or yourself fall into a rut of doing things the way you’ve always done them. This isn’t to say that change is constantly needed, but you should be evaluating the skills necessary to complete your tasks at hand.

5. Buy out time to work with or witness your employees in action

This is key for training and development. When delegating, don’t let your employee silo themselves in the work. Make sure that you are making an effort to witness the work in progress, whether that is attending a meeting that your employee is leading or by simply having them explain to you their thought process and approach to decisions. This is where you can offer advice, coaching and even learn from your employee yourself.

6. Unless the work is suffering, don’t take the work back

Again, it’s easy when you find yourself witnessing the work to be able to overtake a conversation or an idea and run with it. Be careful to let your employee maintain the lead on the project. You don’t want the delegation to turn into a “do what I say and want” situation. You want your employee to be able to learn from their experience, whether the project is a success or not.

7. Have a continual flow of communication – both ways

Ask for progress check-ins or reports, even a quick stop by their work area to get an update on the project. However, be careful not to micro-manage. Make sure your employee knows they can reach out to you whenever they need you.

8. Make sure your employees have all the tools they need to be successful

Put yourself in your employee’s shoes. How would you approach the work? What tools would you need or find useful to get the job done? Don’t expect a decent outcome if your employee is lacking in toolset or understanding of how to use the tools at hand.

9. Evaluate yourself and have your employees evaluate you

Be sure to get feedback from your employees on how you are doing as a leader. What are things that you could improve on to better support them individually and as a team? Be sure to also self-reflect. Look back at your day or week and think of how may have done things differently or not.

At the end of the day we all want the job to be done right and with success. It makes whatever work we do fun and fulfilling. If you ever have the privilege of being a team leader and you want to be successful, you have to train, trust, and empower your employees.

It’s summer and you can’t take that away…

It’s been a fast paced few years. The web has consumed a lot of my time unfortunately. No doubt I’ve learned a lot and the amount of experience and knowledge can’t be found in a book or classroom. I’ve worked with some awesome teams, PressEnter!, Spyder Trap, and now enveloped in an Omni-Channel UX team at Best Buy. One thing that has been overlooked that has gotten me to where I am is the physical world…the non-digital space. I used to draw every night since I was very young. My teachers would always wonder where my homework was, instead I’d spend time drawing.

However, I haven’t done that in years and that’s a terrible thing. Today it finally got nice out. This has been an overly harsh winter in Wisconsin/Minnesota. A lot of factors make it cold and dark, but today was a day that was bright, sunny and warm. I shut down my laptop and ventured out into the real world to do some art.

Which brings me to today’s tutorial. How to enjoy the outdoors as an interactive designer or something to that effect. You could also title it, spring/summer therapy.

Step 1. A Canvas You’ll need a space to fill. Below is an area that is sort of a blank canvas in front of my townhouse. It needed something, what better thing then some flowers or plants. Life is awesome, so why not help it along by planting something. Blank Canvas Step 2: Make a run to your local garden center. I chose Walmart cause it was just down the way. WRONG! I know from my experienced folks that Lowe’s is the way to go. But I denied that cause I was lazy, Walmart had nothing for hanging flowers over the edge of the rail. So Lowe’s it was. And it proved fruitful! However, I ended up with only Violas, a perennial plant since it’s still quite a bit early in the season for this work. stuff stuff 2 Step 3: Stop and get Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy. It’s officially spring/summer when you can open this. Best enjoyed golfing, grilling… but this works to. As long as you’re outside and working with tools. summer shandy Step 4: Open a Summer Shandy and drink. You have to get in the right frame of mind. Vincent van Gogh did absinthe… IMG_2657 Step 4: Your trays. Now I noticed they didn’t have drain holes. This is important. You don’t want your water sticking around, either it gets used by the plant or it lingers and creates a moldy environment. It’s fact. Look it up. IMG_2662 Which is ok, cause that means you can get out your power tools. IMG_2658 Now you don’t want to put too large a bit on. Something small enough for the water to drain. Otherwise your dirt will fall out and too much water may drain out or something… Here’s a bit that worked. I did not have a banana for scale, but it was somewhere in the /32nds or /8ths. IMG_2659 Step 5: Drill them holes. (Reminder, you’ve got beer, so you should be sipping along the way.) I made a pattern of sorts. IMG_2663 Crap. It wasn’t until I was ready to put in the dirt that I realized these trays had little pockets in them. Water for sure would go there. Oh well, noted for next year. IMG_2665 Step 6: Put the dirt in. How much? Well enough so the flowers stick out the top. We can play that by ear when we start putting the flowers in. IMG_2667 Step 7: Break them flowers out of their containers. Note: this is tougher than it looks. Like really tough. It took me quite awhile to figure this out. I started tearing it up good. IMG_2668 I found a system that worked. Tearing the sides and then grabbing the base of the plant just at the dirt level and slowly pulling it out. Be careful, you don’t want to rip it from its roots. IMG_2671 Step 7: Take a break. At this point you realize what you got into and you’ll need a break. Don’t get too anxious or frustrated. Remember, it’s not drag and drop, click, edit or delete. You’re working with nature here. It takes some care and patience. You’re trying to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Drink some Summer Shandy.

Step 8: Put the plants in the tray. Figure out how many you have, start to eye up the spacing and make some divots in the dirt. Put one plant in the dirt and make sure it’s got some support from the surrounding dirt.

[no pic, my hands were dirty at this point]

Step 9: Ok, one is done. Looks good. IMG_2673 I noticed that the divot idea was not working so quickly, so I made three large divots to see if that would work. At this point I was getting a bit anxious to complete this project. IMG_2675 That didn’t work so well. So I went back to individual divots.

Step 10: Hang them up. Fortunately I had spindles to help with the measurement. Just did some quick math to find center. The trays had a quick two piece system that would hang over the edge. You just tighten the nuts and you’re set.IMG_2677 Step 11: Extra flowers. I had extra, so I cleaned out a pot and put them in there. Again, do some math or some layout stuff and plant them. Do it quick though, cause by this point you may just toss them in the trash if you don’t hurry.IMG_2682 Step 12: But wait! We are not savages. We’re Gordon Ramsey, we gotta make this presentable. Get a paper towel and clean the edge of the pot. IMG_2683 Looks good.

Step 13: Don’t forget to water. You’ll want to pick up one of those spout looking deals, super professional. When neighbors walk by, they’ll think you know what you’re doing. IMG_2680 Step 14: Trash. Looks like the plants came with some instructions. You can read those if you want, but hey, we’ve all been to IKEA, we know how this stuff works. IMG_2674 Step 15: Put your tools away and sweep. I did my work mostly on the yard so I didn’t have a lot of dirt to sweep, but you may have to. Also, if you put your tools away, they’ll be there next time you need them. IMG_2684 Step 16: Enjoy your work! Grab another Summer Shandy, put on some country music or Bruce Springsteen…hey, it’s nice out, sometimes Mogwai or Crystal Castles is a bit much. You need some good ol’ chillin tunes. IMG_2686 Don’t waste the summer on that laptop. Get your hands dirty. Whether with dirt, sawdust, clay or a sand castle. It’ll help you be a better designer on the web and reset your brain so that Monday can be awesome. Enjoy the summer kids.