Time Management Tip #12 – Delegate (Part III)
[Below is from Coaching for Attorneys: Improving Productivity and Achieving Balance, chapter 7, Managing Your Time and Energy—A Different Way to Practice, p. 173, etc. In this chapter we lay out five tips on effective delegation. Below is the fifth.]
Learn to Delegate
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” –Theodore Roosevelt
It is challenging for some attorneys to let go of work. But to effectively delegate, you must be willing to assign the task, then watch what happens so you can see the gaps in the employee’s performance. You will need to trust sometimes where you are in doubt and then watch closely. This is distinct from micro-managing. There is a spectrum of ways to delegate. Neither end is the most effective.
Micro-managing Complete Abdication
On the micro-managing end, you watch, worry and “nag.” “Are you done? Do you have any questions? Did you do this? do that?” On the abdication end, you delegate and you never check back and you don’t find out there is a problem, if at all, until it is too late.
When you are empowering your employees, they are more likely to do a great job for you. When you are micro-managing, they will not feel empowered and will not make decisions on their own, will be doubtful, and will rely heavily on you. So the first thing you need to do as a delegator is to let go.
Next, observe and track their progress so you can see where the gaps are in their performance. One of the biggest problems delegators run into is that they let go completely and do not discover problems in a timely fashion. Create a tracking system for everything you delegate. It could be a sheet of paper that states the project, the task, the date delegated, the date due, and how the delegatee will report. Make the employee responsible for the reporting so that you are not micro-managing. But have a tickle system (perhaps a notification on your Outlook or in your calendar) that tells you when the project is due so you can see whether it has been completed. If, the day after the project is due, there has been no communication by the employee, find out what happened and ask him how he could be more reliable in the future. Again, make the employee responsible for figuring out how to change. The more you tell others how and when to do things, the less likely the change will stick and the more likely you will spend your time nagging and following up. The goal is to produce motivated employees who are empowered, feel ownership for their projects, and are in regular communication with you about the status of those projects.
What are the Two Foundational Pieces of a Successful Law Practice?
The answer may surprise you. As I have been coaching law firms now for many years, I have observed the two most important pieces to be accountability and time management.
In successful firms, there are systems in place; there is a conscious way of managing time. Even if your firm is successful, I can promise you that learning good time management skills will increase success, improve employee engagement and reduce stress. But time management skills, while easy to learn, are tough to implement. I have written many blogs on time management (www.mclarencoaching.com/blog) and the longest chapter in my book is on, you guessed it, time management (Coaching for Attorneys: Improving Productivity and Achieving Balance, ABA, 2014.)
Knowing how challenging it can be to take this information and make changes in one’s practice, McLaren Coaching is offering a group coaching book study program on time management and accountability. The series will consist of six bi-weekly sessions over twelve weeks, during which time I will coach you on the techniques in the accountability and time management chapters of my book, Coaching for Attorneys: Improving Productivity and Achieving Balance.
You will leave this group coaching series with
- A network of Sacramento attorneys who are learning to apply the same tools to their practice
- An experience of implementation and experimentation with various tools as well as brainstorming and coaching over this time period that leaves you with the best practices for managing your time
- A sense of personal accountability that will take your practice to the next level
- Ways to best instill a sense of accountability in others within your firm
Dates are as follows:
6 – 7:30 pm (Tuesdays)
Note these are alternating weeks except for the final session which is after a 3 week holiday break. Because this will be a beginning of 2015 class, we will end the series with planning for the New Year.
Email Cami@mclarencoaching.com to ask questions or reserve your spot! Feel free to forward to other Sacramento attorneys.