As you know, my assistant of seven years moved on to greener pastures in September. And yes, I’m still talking about it.
The longer I train a team to take her place, the more I think of Priscilla as a god!
Or maybe…she had just been with me for so long that she had started to read my mind and I had started to get used to it 😉
Whatever the reason, working with a new team has taught me A LOT about where I can improve my communication and leadership skills.
In fact, we just revamped our Thriving Artist Circle website. It looks fantastic.
But the journey getting there? Not so fantastic…
I knew revamping my website would be a big project. I was aware of the scope of work involved and that we’d need a good amount of time to ensure we weren’t stressed and overwhelmed during the process. So, I reached out to my team in October and gave them twelve weeks; more than enough time.
We set a launch date and started to promote it on our social media. We were all excited and counting down the days with our community.
Through the process, I kept up my end of the bargain (I think!). I responded to every email in a timely manner and was helpful whenever they needed guidance on something.
Six weeks went by, and I was feeling a little nervous about the status of things. I emailed my point person a few times to check in and she responded to let me know I had nothing to worry about.
So, I dropped it.
A couple more weeks went by, and I didn’t feel like much had changed. I got a little nervous again so I checked in; she responded telling me all was good and I shouldn’t worry.
Again, I dropped it.
Fast forward to 10 days before our launch and every single second is consumed with troubleshooting and working out kinks that should have been taken care of eight weeks ago.
We had to push our deadline by five days. And we finally worked out some tech kinks last night…. 45 days after the deadline.
And you know what? It would be really easy to blame my team for this, but the truth is: I didn’t follow my gut and I didn’t stick to my guns.
When we were about to miss our deadline, I sent a really nice email to the designer saying that I wanted to push the deadline back five days because there was still too much work to do. I told her I was 100% fine with it.
I might have even added a little smiley face…
But that wasn’t true. At all. I wasn’t 100% fine with it.
In fact, I had worked so hard to talk myself into thinking I was fine with it that when the next tiny hiccup happened…I flipped my lid.
I sent an email to my point person, her supervisor, and her supervisor’s supervisor. I outlined every transgression and deep concern. There were italicized words, bold words, capitalized words, bullet points, and zero smiley faces. It was a real come-to-Jesus email.
But here’s the problem: My behavior had been inconsistent.
I went from easy-does-it-Dallas who trusts the process and keeps her concerns and leadership to herself, to flipping the script and stepping into bossy-pants who writes long, scary emails when something small doesn’t go to plan.
And now, my point person is no longer my point person because she won’t talk to me… #TrueStory
And let me be clear: When it’s all said and done, none of this matters. Not one of my members are mad that our new site was released five days late.
But, it’s a reflection of my leadership (or lack thereof).
I tend to choose being polite over truly being invested in my business and the relationships with my team. And it’s circumstances like these where that fact is highlighted.
As a coach, your love of being helpful might get in the way of running your business efficiently, like it did for me.
Had I just been a little more firm about my concerns and my desires from the beginning, that scary email never would have happened. We would have been on track and speaking the same language.
So how can you consistently show up as a leader without feeling like a crazy-helicopter-boss who hovers over every detail and doesn’t trust her team?
Here’s what I learned…
1. Express appreciation and express it often.
On a weekly basis, make sure you’re reflecting back to your team where they’ve done an excellent job.
A happy team makes for a smooth running business, which makes for happy customers, which makes for a happy CEO.
Plus, when the time comes to express a concern, you won’t feel like you can’t be honest. Your team members already know you love their work, you just want to be specific.
2. Express concerns before concerns turn into conflicts.
I’m still trying to figure out the balance between being boss of the year and being the leader of a corporation. On numerous occasions, my withholding of my concerns have caused conflicts down the road, and that’s not fun for anyone, including me.
3. Hire people to do what they love and what they’re great at.
I used to have an assistant that was excellent at a lot of things, good at a number of things, and not so good at a few things.
Now I have a team of nine geniuses with very specific tasks that utilize their greatest gifts and passions. I have one person on my team who only does billing; I have another who focuses on social media; and I have someone else who’s only job is to make sure the customer service inbox is down to single digits.
They all love their jobs — yes, even the billing person.
The benefit of this is…
1. If your assistant goes on vacation, the business can still run.
2. Every aspect of the business is running at 100% because the people doing those jobs are really good at at what they do.
4. Get a delegation system together and keep your communication in one place.
Emails can pile up on one another. Use a system like Asana, or Teamwork, or even Google docs where you can make rules on how assignments are made and tracked.
It will make everyone’s job easier, especially yours.
5. Own it.
I screw up on a weekly basis! And when I do, I always take ownership.
Because I do that, everyone knows SAGE Creative is a safe place for mistakes to happen. That means my team owns their mistakes immediately which allows us to clean them up faster so we can move on.
6. Mix business and pleasure.
Truthfully, I’m not sure if this is good or bad, everyone’s boundaries on this is different. But for me, I want to know how the toddler is, how the engagement plans are coming, and what life looks like outside of 9-5 for my team. For that reason, I’ve always made an effort to invest in my staff as people and have even developed friendships with them.
I think this has helped us build camaraderie, commitment to one another, and a dedication to a certain quality of work.
And again, there is a line — and that line is different for everyone — but for me, it’s important to mix business and pleasure.
Have you had similar experiences? What is the number one lesson you’ve learned from managing a team? I’d love if you shared with me below.
Kris Andrews says
What an amazing woman you are!!! Imagine if we all took ownership as you have done!! I’m a Dallas fan. Wishing you greater and greater success!
Thanks for being so transparent in this post! So many good thoughts. I am finding that staying on top of things via Asana is key for me and team (at the moment just one VA). Balancing the smileys is key! Not necessary every time– especially if I’m not feeling it 🙂 I am looking forward to reading THE POWER OF KINDNESS. Does it go into this topic of communication?
You Rock! And the site looks fab!
Dallas Travers says
So, so thankful for this. Wishing you great success, too!
Dallas Travers says
Hi Elise! YES! Asana has been so key for my team and me, as well. 🙂 (Smiley intended! ha!) Yes, the book does. Not necessarily with teams, but communiation with others for sure. Glad you like the site! xo
Shauna Gingras says
Wow Dallas this is tremendous! You are so self aware and confident. Loved reading this and learning from your experiences! Impressive to see you grow through the rough times. You must be an incredible leader!
Dallas Travers says
Thank you so much, Shauna! I try to be a good leader but I also know I have a few things to learn. But I’m grateful for every day that I have the opportunity to learn those things. 🙂 So glad you like the blog! xo