Trust. If you delegate work, you need to learn how to trust the process. I cannot repeat this enough: don’t resort to micro-managing. Naturally, even if you communicated very clearly, some results may disappoint you. However, when delegating my own work (to my freelancers), I make sure to (a) pre-agree on a certain number of revisions, and (b) to criticize in a pro-active and constructive manner. Most of the time, this will lead to great outcomes the second time around.
As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lynn Dudenhoefer.
After completing the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, Lynn Dudenhoefer worked in counterterrorism research in Germany, while also founding her own marketing and SEO consultancy in 2019. Through her company Wunderbar Marketing & SEO Solutions, she was able to focus on her other passion — helping businesses grow. Particularly important for her is a no-nonsense approach when working with clients: transparency, honesty, and fairness.
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?
To some, my CV might seem confusing — I work in counterterrorism and radicalisation research, but I also founded my own online marketing consultancy — Wunderbar Marketing & SEO Solutions. Well, no one ever said that you can only do one thing or have only one career. Why should I not make the most of my skill sets? I founded my consultancy to help a boutique real estate company based in Berlin — they did not have any marketers, and needed someone with a wide variety of online marketing skills to bring in leads and increase conversions. So I seized the day, pitched my ideas, and immediately founded my own online marketing consultancy to begin working with them. I focus on long-term client relationships, simply because it takes a while to earn a client’s trust, and — depending on their situation — it may also take some time to develop and implement a whole online marketing strategy.
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 journey, I was already an expert in SEO, PPC Marketing, and Content Marketing in general. However, I lacked consulting experience — and all of a sudden, as a female who had just turned 30, I was working directly with CEOs. In these situations, it is important to portray confidence, but also be honest about things you do not know — yet. Honesty makes you appear down-to-earth and trustworthy, which are qualities that are hard to come by in the business world. Particularly in the beginning, without any consulting experience, I was extremely nervous when pitching to new clients. However, I just went with my instincts, and decided to be calm, confident, and honest.
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 the beginning, everything happened so fast (as in, my first client needed me to start working straight away) and I had to simultaneously start work and learn everything about actually setting up and registering my own business. I registered my business straight away, but before you get your business tax number, it can take a few weeks. This means, that I was already working for my first client, and I had no idea if my tax number would arrive in time for me to write a professional invoice by the end of the month (and not embarrass myself by having to tell my client that I could not write an invoice yet). Luckily, the tax number arrived in time, and everything worked out fine.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes my company stand out is that we (a) offer honesty and transparency, and (b) are happy we share our knowledge and thereby enable our clients. By now, we get all of our new clients via referral. In these times, where especially small businesses do not know which agencies or consultancies to trust anymore, they are grateful for someone who does not make sensational promises. My approach is concise and clear. I do not withhold knowledge. If I can teach my clients what I know, and thereby enable them to eventually take care of their marketing themselves, then I view this as a great success. This approach is what I call the no-nonsense online marketing approach. I would have liked to call it the no-bulls*** approach, however, I do think that the Google algorithm would penalize this ☺
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The most important one is to be clear and set boundaries with clients. You will have to agree on an average amount of hours you will work (either per week or per month) and not exceed this. Especially with your first few clients, you may feel obliged to work overtime just to make sure that they will see your value. However, if you already start out that way, this is what they will expect for the following months as well. It is crucial to manage expectations, and create a safe space, in which the client and you can communicate openly about the contract and working conditions. At times, I realized that — even though we had agreed on an average amount of hours per months — there was just a lot more work that the client had not mentioned before. Most clients won’t do this deliberately — they are simply unaware of how much work there is to be done. In such a case, I will have a chat with my client and potentially agree on more hours.
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?
I am particularly grateful towards my Marketing Insights Specialist, Brad Fagan, who has provided many creative solutions and data-driven approaches throughout my business journey. He has more in-depth analytical marketing experience than I do, and proved to be a great support throughout my business journey.
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?
Eventually, every business owner will exceed the amount of tasks that they can manage themselves. This is a crucial developmental step that will define your success and outcomes as a leader and business owner. If you want your business to grow, and move forward, you will have to delegate certain tasks — and thereby, to a certain extent, let go of those tasks.
Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?
Many first-time business owners are suspicious about delegating work, and may not trust freelancers or employees to perform when completing delegated tasks. The leaders may think that they have developed the one and only way to complete these tasks, and resort to micro-managing their staff in order to minutely supervise their process. This, in turn, will eventually to employee dissatisfaction by making them feel unvalued and incapable. Their unhappiness will then result in a disrupted work process and lack of efficiency — so, this kind of delegation is pretty much a ‘lose-lose’ situation.
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?
Put simply, you need to learn to trust. Employees or freelancers may have a different way of approaching the delegated tasks, but for as long as they are reaching similar and satisfactory results, this should not matter to you. I am one hundred percent against micro-management. On the contrary, you should empower your employees by clearly communicating the desired results, maybe offering some advice, and let them know that they can always come to you with any follow-up questions. This leadership style will make your employees and freelancers feel important and valued, which is why they are more likely to put a lot of effort into delivering favorable outcomes.
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.
- Delegate according to skill sets. Not every task is suitable for every person. You should know your employee’s strengths and weaknesses — or do your research when hiring freelancers. Since I predominantly work with freelancers, I make sure to do my research before even approaching them. During the initial hiring process, I ask for work samples and communicate the desired outcomes.
- Know you strategy and desired outcomes. It is important to have a vision and strategy before delegating work — or else, you risk ending up with dissatisfactory results. I always make sure to outline an overarching strategy to see where I am at, and what I want to achieve by delegating specific tasks. Even with my freelancers (for example, when hiring for my clients’ website designs), I share certain points of my strategy; to make sure that the freelancer is able to see the reasons behind their work. In turn, this may positively impact their way of working.
- Trust. If you delegate work, you need to learn how to trust the process. I cannot repeat this enough: don’t resort to micro-managing. Naturally, even if you communicated very clearly, some results may disappoint you. However, when delegating my own work (to my freelancers), I make sure to (a) pre-agree on a certain number of revisions, and (b) to criticize in a pro-active and constructive manner. Most of the time, this will lead to great outcomes the second time around.
- Respect the young. Most leaders are likely to delegate work only to those who have a fair amount of experience, and a proven track record of delivering. In my experience, though, some of my youngest freelancers (19 years old) have delivered some of the most creative and stunning work I have encountered on the market (e.g. insanely well-designed, user-friendly and responsive websites). Even though I was prejudiced in the beginning (and quite worried to be honest), this experience taught me otherwise.
- Accept and learn from failure. Every now and then, all of the above won’t get you anywhere, and you will wind up disappointed and forced to start the whole process all over again. In some cases, this may even impact the relationship between you and your client. However, in these cases you will have to tell yourself that failure is a significant part of any business venture. It is important to not dwell but learn from it, and then move on.
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?
I disagree. The way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating is by changing the quote: “If you want something done exactly the way you would do it yourself — do it yourself.” If you want your business to grow, delegate. If you want satisfactory results but do not need to micro-manage every step on the way, then, by all means, delegate.
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. 🙂
I am purely thinking of the world of online marketing here, but I already started offering website audits to NGOs and think-tanks for free. Often, NGOs run websites with poor health scores — simply because they have important other issues to focus on. However, a terrible website can negatively impact their development (e.g. new potential donors aren’t finding them, they’re not ranking for important keywords, etc.) If NGOs cannot fix the issues pointed out by my audit themselves, I offer help at significantly reduced rates. This way, I feel as if I can contribute to their success.
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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!