Small Biz Advice: Managing a Team


Holly Howard runs Ask Holly How, a small business consulting company based out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn that works with a wide variety of businesses from restaurants to retail to art studios and pretty much everything in between. Her clients report increased income and profit, decreased expenses and a significantly better quality of life. Holly also heads up the Small Business Book Club at McNally Jackson Books and teaches business classes at The Yard in Williamsburg. 7pm.  The book club will be discussing Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, this week, on Tuesday, November 13.  

Got a question for Holly about running your small business? Email her and she’ll address it in her next column:

Dear Holly,

I am a freelance producer who oversees a team of three people. In my role, I have the opportunity to make important decisions but also the responsibility to make sure things go smoothly. I try to give my team tasks at the beginning of the day, but sometimes they do not do those tasks properly. I am responsible if they make a mistake, so how do I delegate the workload without micromanaging?


Delegation Nation

Dear Delegation,

This is an excellent question to which I’m sure so many managers and business owners can relate. Delegating can be one of the most challenging aspects of making a business run successfully. And, no business can truly succeed without delegating, so taking time now to learn how to do it effectively is a smart move that will pay off throughout your career.

The most common mistake people make when delegating is that they do not make their expectations clear. I like to remind all of my clients that no one is a mind reader. Often we assume that people will know what we want without really spelling things out. So, when delegating tasks, make sure you are crystal clear. In the beginning, take the time to explain what you want done, how you want it done and when you need it finished. Those are the basics. I strongly encourage you to write down these instructions if possible. You would be surprised at how providing a little more clarity in the process gets you the results you desire.

Next, know it’s your responsibility to provide the “why”. Don’t just give someone a list of things to do without any context; no one will be motivated to help you. Providing purpose and including people in the bigger vision is a necessary step that many leaders fail to put into practice. So, after you’ve come up with your list of tasks, make sure you can tell your staff why you need these things completed and how their efforts contribute to the success of the project overall. Everyone wants to feel like their contributions matter, no matter how small or menial the tasks may seem.

Finally, when the tasks are completed, review and praise. Since you are responsible for making sure the task have been completed properly, you must take a minute to check in and review their work. If everything has been done as you wanted, then you need to be sure that you take time to thank your staff. We tend to assume that because it’s someone’s job to complete a task that we don’t need to thank them or acknowledge their work. But, if you want to build a team that is going to be motivated to do things the way you want them to and when you want them to; offering gratitude is a sure way to make this happen.

Good luck on your next job. No one can accomplish their goals on their own and learning how to delegate effectively will make you a stronger leader and a more successful producer.



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