Amber De La Garza: “Be Realistic With What Your Team Members Can Get Done”

Be Realistic With What Your Team Members Can Get Done You want a new sales funnel created, complete with a branding overhaul, so you task your assistant who’s adept at creating sales funnels with the project. You give her a week. That might be doable if she didn’t already have a number of urgent and important […]

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Be Realistic With What Your Team Members Can Get Done

You want a new sales funnel created, complete with a branding overhaul, so you task your assistant who’s adept at creating sales funnels with the project. You give her a week. That might be doable if she didn’t already have a number of urgent and important tasks assigned to her plate and if you don’t keep asking her to create additional emails for said funnel that you dream up throughout the week. Don’t set your team members up for failure by delegating unrealistically. Consider what they already have going on, their time constraints, and their current skill sets when delegating tasks and projects to give them the best chance of succeeding.

As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amber De La Garza.

Amber is a sought-after coach, trainer, speaker, writer, host of the Productivity Straight Talk podcast, and creator of the S.T.O.P. Leverage Formula. She helps small business owners improve their time management and elevate their productivity to maximize profits, reduce stress, and make time for what matters most! Amber passionately shares her message with entrepreneurs all over the world.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Before my passion for productivity was ignited, I became a licensed real estate agent in 2001 and have since acquired nearly 20 years of experience in real estate management, training, coaching, and speaking. When coaching business owners for a large real estate firm early in my career, many clients came to me constantly overwhelmed, out of time, and falling short of hitting their goals. From the outside, it appeared they lacked sound business strategies but I dug deeper and discovered the true cause of their challenges stemmed from not having the right time management and self-management skills to execute their business strategies.

In 2010, having my son changed my life and career path. I used all my maternity leave and shortly before going back, I made the difficult decision not to return to corporate America. Less than two years later, I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey and started my own coaching company. I was determined to equip small business owners with the skills they needed to execute their business strategies, along with the productivity coaching, training, and accountability required to reduce stress, achieve their business goals, and live a fulfilling life.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

When I first started my business, I struggled with positioning myself. I first marketed myself as an Organization Consultant who provides organization, productivity, and efficiency services. Once I discovered people view organization as a luxury but efficiency as a necessity, I repositioned myself as an Efficiency Consultant without changing my services. Over time, I realized that efficiency skills weren’t the root of my clients’ success, but it was improved personal productivity that was helping them reach new heights. Shortly after changing my title to The Productivity Specialist and focusing my efforts on improving clients’ productivity, my business blew up.

Yes, I have considered giving up but I’ve never actually given into that thought and closed my doors. In the beginning, because the revenue was lacking and later on when a launch failed that I had poured nearly all my time and energy into. While facing some of the toughest challenges in my business throughout the years, I even allowed myself to quit a few times. But only for a few hours. Then, because of the passion I have for the work I do and people I serve, I showed up the following day refreshed and ready to refocus on whatever challenges had led me to “quit.” I deeply believe that the knowledge and skills I have to share can help other small business owners minimize stress while maximizing profits so they can continue to share their own unique gifts with the world. I am never going to let that flame just die out and close shop.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

When I first branched out and began speaking publicly, I landed a big client, one whose logo I’d proudly display on my resume. I was determined to give the best presentation ever and began preparing immediately. I wrote my script and rehearsed it aloud over and over again while walking through the RV park where I was working remotely out of our fifth wheel. I rehearsed it so much, in fact, that every snowbird in the park unwillingly knew my script by the time we headed home. When I walked up to that stage to deliver my presentation, I felt incredibly prepared. I soon learned I was just insanely over-rehearsed. I sounded like a robot and when I accidentally skipped a phrase here and there, I was unable to ad lib or simply talk freely on the topic I knew so well. I stuttered until I could get back on script because my mind was so glued to it. I fell flat on my face and was unbearably embarrassed. While flying home, I processed the actions that had led me to fail and committed to never memorizing a script word-for-word again. Over time and through countless speaking opportunities, I learned that I show up best when I am well-prepared but not over-rehearsed.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I am skilled at identifying and providing my clients what they need, not necessarily what they want and it is meeting those previously unidentified needs that helps them tackle their challenges and level up their businesses. They may come to me wanting help with their time management but I determine the root cause of their issues is a lack of efficient business systems so we work on those. Or they may come to me wanting help with scaling their team but I determine they’ll never be able to do so successfully until they first transform their mindset and nail down their big why so we start there. I’m able to identify the root causes of their issues by asking questions — tough questions that dig deep and get to the bottom of their struggles so I can adjust the prescription to solve their problems, not just alleviate their symptoms. One client referred to me as “a pitbull dressed up as a poodle” and other clients have shared similar analogies.They all agree that I am welcoming, understanding, grace-giving, and kind but also unashamedly direct and tough because I take my job of getting them results seriously. Whether it’s words of encouragement and celebrating their wins or constructive feedback and calling them out on their BS and stories, I give my clients the straight talk on what they need to succeed in business and life. I refuse to go easy on clients who are determined to grow their business and let them negotiate themselves out of success.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Putting your business above all else in the name of success will only work in the short-term. Long-term, you’d be overwhelmed, overworked, overcommitted, and headed straight for burnout. If there’s one thing business owners should absolutely not squeeze out of their schedules, it’s self-care. Prioritizing self care is essential to your long-term success, both professionally and personally. Get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Eat healthy foods that provide energy and the nutrients your body needs to function at its best. Take breaks to refresh. Take vacations to recover and rejuvenate. Take time for yourself whether it’s a spa day, painting class, good book, sporting event, or dining at a new restaurant. Entrepreneurs have the tendency to think that every hour and dollar has to go into building their business. The problem with that thinking is in building a great business, you could also be building a life you don’t want to be living and damaging your health and overall well-being in the process.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

When I first voiced my desire to not return to corporate America after my son was born and start my own business instead, I was met with a myriad of strong opinions from family members and close friends. Needless to say, they didn’t understand my dream, let alone support it. But without hesitation, my husband said, “Go for it!” and he meant it. Throughout my many emotional upsets, financial woes, and business owner blues over the years, he has never wavered in his support of my dream. He’s always been my biggest cheerleader and my best investor because he believes in me. He also knows exactly what to say to pull me out of slumps. Just today, I was having a hard time bringing all the pieces of a big project together and texted him that I was on the verge of losing it. He replied, “You got this babe. Your instincts will kick in. You’re climbing a mountain and it’s always the hardest closest to the top.” He gave me the support I needed to take the next step forward and an hour later, I had reached my mountain’s peak with blue skies all around.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?

Delegating is incredibly important because when done successfully, it frees up your time to work in your zone of genius and on your high-value activities that generate revenue. Without proper delegation, you’d be working on tasks and activities that steal your time from doing the things that only you are qualified to do in your business or as a leader. It’s also important to develop the skill set of delegating because no one has ever achieved huge goals without the support of others. Delegating will help you accomplish more while reducing stress and overwhelm.

Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?

Delegating is challenging for many business owners for two reasons: they have self-limiting beliefs holding them back from delegating or lack critical skills needed to delegate successfully.

Common limiting beliefs I see regarding delegation are: I am best equipped to do all the things my business demands, I should be skilled at all the things, I can’t let go of control and allow others to show up and help me along the way, or I just can’t afford help.

Successful delegation also requires the following skills: clear, direct communication and planning so you can clearly articulate your needs to others well ahead of deadlines. Neither of these skills come easily for many people but they can certainly be developed.

In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?

A favorite perspective shift I like to share with my clients is: As your business grows, you must work on seeing your business as its own entity, separate from yourself. If you were to continue equating yourself with your business and thinking that you alone should be able to provide your business everything it needs to survive, you’d be sabotaging the growth and overall success of the business. When you recognize that you don’t possess all the skill sets, knowledge, time, and energy necessary to grow your business to new heights and maximize profits, it really puts it into perspective that you need a team around you supporting your goals and completing the tasks and activities that will help your business be successful. Investing in your team by delegating tasks and activities to them is an investment in your business with a high return.

Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Build A Team Of People You Trust

Before you delegate even one task, it’s important you build a team of people you trust to run in the same direction as you, whose skills fill your gaps, and who don’t need much hand-holding. You want to build a team where you can take the training wheels off fast so they can quickly start using their talents to support you all the way to your goals’ finish lines. Hire with intention right from the get-go, focusing not just on skills but also on character traits and the ability to grow alongside your company.

2. Share The Bigger Picture

Especially when it comes to large projects in which you’re delegating numerous tasks, potentially to a number of people, encourage your team to go above and beyond by explaining the bigger picture and the important role they can play in it by filling in the missing puzzle pieces that you may not have thought of when you dreamed up the finished project. By sharing how the tasks your team members are being delegated can contribute to the overall success of the project, you’re empowering them to take charge and be creative and solution-oriented, which will only impact their results in a positive way.

3. Be Realistic With What Your Team Members Can Get Done

You want a new sales funnel created, complete with a branding overhaul, so you task your assistant who’s adept at creating sales funnels with the project. You give her a week. That might be doable if she didn’t already have a number of urgent and important tasks assigned to her plate and if you don’t keep asking her to create additional emails for said funnel that you dream up throughout the week. Don’t set your team members up for failure by delegating unrealistically. Consider what they already have going on, their time constraints, and their current skill sets when delegating tasks and projects to give them the best chance of succeeding.

4. Align Delegated Tasks With The Strengths Of Your Team Members

Unless you hired a bunch of unicorns, your team members are not highly skilled in every area of your business. They also don’t possess the passion or personality to succeed in any position or at every task. If your assistant has a sparkling personality and unmatched customer service training, have her answering your phones, not doing your bookkeeping. If your copywriter is a master with words but can’t figure out how to connect her printer to save her life, don’t task her with setting up your CRM system. Align every task you delegate with your team members’ strengths and weaknesses in mind.

5. Clearly Communicate Your Expectations

When you fail to communicate exactly what you want done, you can expect to receive back only a variation of what you want done. No one can read your mind. You must give your team the necessary pieces to successfully complete each project you dream up. That doesn’t mean refrain from empowering them to make decisions and express their own great ideas along the way. It means give your team all of the important information they need in clear detail so they can run with it and return to you with an even shinier version of what you had in mind. Possibly most important, don’t forget to provide them a clear due date. Doing so will help your team prioritize new tasks against their other work over, “Get it to me sometime this week.”

One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the often quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?

That cliche is completely false. One of my past client’s mottos about delegating is, “Move it from my to-do list to their to-learn list” which I absolutely love. Fearing a task will be done incorrectly by someone else or not wanting to slow down and teach someone how to do a task properly is short-sighted thinking. As a leader and business owner, it is your responsibility to empower and equip your team so they can show up, do their best work, and get the results you want. If you constantly allow your time to be consumed by tasks that could be completed successfully by others simply because you’re holding on to the belief that only you can do it right, you have less time to work on the high-value tasks that only you can do to level up your business.

How can our readers further follow you online?

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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