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Melanie Musson of USInsuranceAgents.com: “Give clear instructions”

Give clear instructions. If you want something done a certain way, spell it out. If you expect to receive daily updates, you’ll need to communicate that. If you want a certain procedure followed, write out that procedure. If you instruct someone to “contact” another company, you may be frustrated when they email that company because […]

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Give clear instructions. If you want something done a certain way, spell it out. If you expect to receive daily updates, you’ll need to communicate that. If you want a certain procedure followed, write out that procedure. If you instruct someone to “contact” another company, you may be frustrated when they email that company because you thought they should call them. If you wanted them to call, then you should have instructed them specifically to “call.”


As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Melanie Musson, a team lead editor with USInsuranceAgents.com. As she runs programs and activities, she has had to discover the best ways to delegate to get great results.


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?

As a young adult, a friend asked me to read through a novel he had written. It turned out that I had a knack for editing. I continued to work for him for several years and that led to me become an editor and writer with USInsuranceAgents.com. I was able to take on more responsibility and enter a leadership role.

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?

I thought about giving up several times. I even wanted to give up before I started. When I was first hired, before I had any training, I thought about quitting because I did not have confidence in my ability. I thought I would embarrass myself. I thought I might rather live with myself quitting and wondering if I could have made it than actually being unable to do the job.

My husband believed in me and reminded me that I could trust myself and my abilities. His confidence in me helped me find my confidence in myself.

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?

I kept asking my questions to the owner of the company rather than my immediate supervisor. I’m sure I drove him crazy with all my technical questions. Once my manager reached out to me and welcomed open communication, I started to catch on to what I should be doing and I finally asked my questions to the appropriate person.

I learned that the owner was gracious and did not belittle me and those are qualities of a good leader. I also learned that kindness is the key to open communication. Because my manager was welcoming, I felt I could converse freely.

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

Their flexibility and camaraderie truly stand out. They are happy to let employees choose their hours and projects. They also encourage communication and personal connections so that everyone feels part of a bigger team. Because the employees are happy, they are more productive.

For me, flexibility is one of the most important perks of the job. My husband works shift work and I am able to work when he works.

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

Push yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s sometimes scary to do something new and it’s usually uncomfortable, but projects bring variety to your work help you grow as a person. Occasionally, you’ll find a new niche where you naturally excel.

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 college English professor inspired me. She opened my eyes to the wonders of writing and how to write effectively. She gave me a solid foundation in writing so that I could write confidently and logically.

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?

One person, regardless of how brilliant they are, cannot accomplish as much alone as they can when they link arms with others. A group can progress so much farther than an individual.

Not only can delegation help a manager accomplish more, but it can also help them do better. Team members have different strengths, and when a manager delegates to their strengths, the manager will get better results. A manager might do a good job in many subjects, but if he/she delegates projects appropriately to team member’s expertise, the finished project will be great, and not merely good.

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

When you want something done a certain way, it can be hard to accept someone else’s approach. Someone that is a perfectionist may have a difficult time picturing someone else doing equally well with a different process.

Sometimes, the problem lies in not being sure what a team member is capable of. A manager may want to push a team member but be afraid of pushing to failure.

If a manager doesn’t know the people on their team, they’ll have a hard time knowing who they can count on for specific tasks.

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?

If a manager is having a hard time giving up full control of a project, he/she needs to communicate clearly with the person they’re delegating a task to and make sure that person understands what needs to be accomplished. The manager should clearly lay out the steps and the desired outcome and be open to questions. And then the manager needs to step back and continue to answer questions throughout the course of the project, but also allow the team member to use their strengths without being micromanaged and intimidated.

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.

You need to know your team. If you have a team of writers and one has experience as a zookeeper and another is a skilled musician, you need to know which one will be better able to write an article on bears in captivity. That’s a very obvious and basic example, but the better you know your team, the better you’ll be able to delegate to take advantage of their strengths.

Give clear instructions. If you want something done a certain way, spell it out. If you expect to receive daily updates, you’ll need to communicate that. If you want a certain procedure followed, write out that procedure. If you instruct someone to “contact” another company, you may be frustrated when they email that company because you thought they should call them. If you wanted them to call, then you should have instructed them specifically to “call.”

Do not micromanage. No one likes a superior looking over their shoulder. It makes them feel nervous and frustrated. Trust is important and micromanaging shows you do not trust the person you delegated a task to. Once you’ve clearly given instructions, take a step back and work on something else. You won’t free up your time by delegating if you spend just as long micromanaging as you would have spent doing the task yourself.

Encourage your team. Encouragement builds confidence. Confidence leads to empowerment. You want an empowered team that is able to successfully complete what you have delegated. Praise strengths and accomplishments. When a team member successfully executes a task, praise them on specific ways they excelled. Appreciation goes a long way in keeping morale up. A happy employee will do a better job.

Be approachable. Strive to be a leader who is friendly and dependable. If you’ve delegated a task but your team is afraid of you, they will think twice about asking you a question. If you’re friendly, they’ll be more likely to ask what they need to so that they understand your vision and can then accomplish the task the way you needed it done.

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?

It is false. It’s an excuse for poor delegation. Instead of taking the blame as a manager, this phrase excuses you and places the blame on the person delegated with the project. If you delegate right, the task is more likely to be done right.

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. 🙂

Private music lessons regardless of ability to pay. Music touches the soul and strengthens the mind. I want everyone to have the opportunity to study it.

How can our readers further follow you online?

USInsuranceAgents.com

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


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