Remove uncertainty: Your team needs confidence in their own abilities. Let them know you believe in them so they stretch themselves to grow.
Clarify the work: While it takes time to delegate effectively, it is time well spent.
Make the goals clear: Be very clear about the “why” behind the task to get your team on board as to your mission.
As part of my series about “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing small business owner Lori Vella. Lori is an estate planner with offices in Florida and New York (www.LoriVella.com). She does everything from Will and Trust creation, probates, business and contracts, helping parents nominate guardians for their children, and guiding individuals through legal complexities while protecting their business and personal assets.
At first, Lori worked as a true solo practitioner. She found herself immersed in every detail but the lack of resources and increasing demands were catching up to her. While “doing it all” truly kept overhead low, to focus on priorities and scale her business, she had to learn to delegate. Lori now works with a team of amazing people that help move her business forward every day.
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?
Estate planning has been an interest since law school. After graduation, I found opportunities in other areas but I’m thrilled to be back, not only doing what I love, but being in business for myself.
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?
The toughest part has been working from home with a child. My family and friends needed to get their end-of-life planning in order so the law firm started as a hobby. As the business started to thrive, it became tougher to juggle, but still manageable. Now, with my little one in school, the sky is the limit.
My drive always came from the desire to help people. When I sit across from clients witnessing the raw emotion in their eyes, I will do all I can to make them feel secure.
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?
In my first year of law school, a few of us volunteered to sit as the “jury” in a mock trial with the upper classmen appearing as the “attorneys.” The next day, one of the “attorneys” asked for my view on his “close,” to which I replied, “your pants were too short.” He stood there stunned and confused. He actually wanted my feedback on his “closing statement,” not his “clothes.” From that time on, considering my response before replying became more commonplace.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our website is amazing. It brings us many compliments and much traffic. Our office manager Veronica took it upon herself to build it entirely. She did not have experience doing it, but figured it out. I had confidence in her ability to make it happen. When your team understands their crucial role in the company’s success, they become inspired about future possibilities.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Unplug and take a vacation. When we feel overwhelmed, it is often a sign to step back and recalibrate. A vacation does not always mean travel. It can simply be relaxing on the couch and avoiding emails. While our society seems enamored with being “busy,” it is not a great thing. We should be proud of how well we treat our bodies and minds and our success in life in general, not how many hours we spend working.
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?
My partner Jay has been a wonderful support in my life. He witnessed my struggle to work my business, not only as a true solo practitioner, but with a small child by my side. Within a few years, and after growing the team from one to many, it turned into a thriving business. Jay’s encouragement along the way, and role as my sounding board, has had a significant positive impact.
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?
Let me start by saying this. I have loved to delegate my entire life. Growing up, my brother would earn a dollar from me for peeling and salting a cucumber!
But really, business leaders must set the stage for the business to experience growth. Delegation has some short-term pains obviously. It eats up precious time so it takes patience and trust. Regardless, there is simply no reason to let your personal health suffer by performing all tasks. Your business will only continue to grow with a team of dedicated members working toward a common goal.
Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?
It is most definitely a challenge. It is one of the harder things a business owner or leader must do. I’m sure if we had clones running around, it would be easier. As it stands now, it is not always simple to communicate our desires to another. It takes time to explain what we need and allow them to catch up to where we are. We may experience a loss of control in handing over the reins as well as the ongoing pressure of having the same accountability to make sure things are done correctly.
We need to keep in mind that in taking this time to share our responsibilities with others, we make an investment in their growth. This helps your team feel more confident otherwise they will not ever stretch themselves to develop. We all want and need those “right-hand” people working for us. This is how we get them.
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?
The best thing to set you in the right direction is to create a manual of procedures. You may even delegate this task to another. Request that they record the steps of every new task so that your procedures manual gets created organically. Over time and with each new hire, you have the manual to fall back on as a starting point. This will help to erase the old habits of wanting to do things yourself.
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.
Here are five things you should do for effective delegation:
- Remove uncertainty: Your team needs confidence in their own abilities. Let them know you believe in them so they stretch themselves to grow.
- Clarify the work: While it takes time to delegate effectively, it is time well spent.
- Make the goals clear: Be very clear about the “why” behind the task to get your team on board as to your mission.
- Agree on the deadline: You need to be on the same page as to the length of the task and its due date. You may think a task takes an hour, while your staff may think a few days.
- Be available for questions: Your team needs feedback. Agree in advance how they will receive it. Ask them to make a list of questions and approach you once a day. For more urgent projects, you may need to meet every couple of hours or when they feel they stuck.
One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft 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?
Of course the saying is true! Doing something “right” is incredibly subjective. We like the way we do things for the most part. We cannot do business that way, however. I like this quote better: “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for life.”
If we switch our focus to our team instead, we then think about how we build their skills, confidence and teamwork when we effectively delegate. We all want rock stars working for us. They need to develop over time, unless they were born with that innate ability to know exactly what needs to be done at all times. Most have to learn these skills. If you take a moment to imagine how your business will grow if you are freed up from doing tasks that others can handle for you, delegation may seem more doable and desirable.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It would be great to see more people seizing their days, taking vacations, and doing the things that they have always wanted to do. Let others remove some work off of your plate to help you focus on living your life.
How can our readers further follow you online?
I would love to meet your readers. They can find me on LinkedIn or Instagram (@AttorneyLori).
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!