Be clear about your request. The clearer you can be about what you’re requesting to be done, the better. For big and new tasks, this includes verbal and written communication so you can check for understanding. I had a person on my team that I learned had a short-term memory challenge. I didn’t realize this when we first started working together and we did most of our communicating verbally. When he shared with me it was difficult for him to remember everything, I started to provide high-level recaps of our conversations in writing with key dates, so we were on the same page. I began to do this more broadly with members of my team and it was helpful in all cases and I do this consistently to this day.
As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michele Vig.
Michele, an accomplished corporate executive for two decades, founded her own organizing business, Neat Little Nest, to follow her passion. She enjoys helping clients declutter, organize, and build the lives they envision. Today, she is the author of a new book, The Holistic Guide to Decluttering, available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Target, is a master-level certified organizer in Marie Kondo’s KonMari decluttering method and a member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. Along with her business, Michele has been widely featured in the media and has been recognized as one of Minnesota’s top 50 women in business. Michele lives in Edina, Minnesota, with her husband and family.
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 following my passion and starting my own organizing company, Neat Little Nest, I spent most of my career in marketing and product development leadership roles, helping teams create marketing and product strategies to drive revenue and customer satisfaction. Mid-career, I chose to shift careers and follow my passion to do something I love in order to help people remove clutter from their lives to live their most desired 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?
I have faced many obstacles in my career that started even before I got my first job. I came from a family whose parents did not attend college, so it wasn’t a given that I would be able to attend. Going to college was something I didn’t take for granted and was grateful for the opportunity. I worked several jobs throughout my schooling in order to pay for the education. My parents raised me to believe that if I worked hard enough, I could reach the goals I set for myself — even if those goals were bigger than ones they had reached themselves. With their guidance and me putting in the time to do my very best, I started to see positive things happen in my life and in my career. I believe my drive came from wanting to prove that a girl like me really could be whatever she dreamed. And today, I’m living my best life, I own my own business, I’ve written a book, and I’m helping others achieve their own goals.
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?
As a new entrepreneur, I made many little mistakes related to marketing. While I had lots of experience leading marketing teams, I was no longer doing the day-to-day like I do today with Neat Little Nest. A couple come to mind. The first was when I was getting my certification with Marie Kondo, we had an opportunity to meet her. I was excited about it, but I completely left my marketing mind behind. I didn’t think about what I looked like that day even though I knew I’d be getting a picture with the famous Marie Kondo — and that’s a photo that has now been seen in a variety of news outlets including TV. The second mistake I made was taking on too much of the creative elements myself — I created the Neat Little Nest website from scratch and while it did turn out, I spent too much time learning when I could have hired someone to do it, and instead spent my time getting my in-home business going more quickly.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our goal is to help people look at clutter holistically and how clutter is impacting them in a variety of ways — keeping them from living their most desired lives. Many organizing professionals focus solely on physical clutter, which is helpful, but removal of physical clutter doesn’t always lead to the transformation and sense of peace that people seek. My new book, The Holistic Guide to Decluttering, talks about other places where clutter lives — in our minds, and as time stealers. We waste so much time looking for things or trying to multitask — organizing isn’t just about our physical stuff.
Working with one of my clients, I could tell she was struggling with keeping track of her to-dos — she had sticky notes throughout her space, along with several notebooks full of notes. When I asked her more about her challenges, she shared her system wasn’t working, and it was affecting her in many ways. We discussed options for her to consider for a daily planner as well as set up a system for her in her office so she could manage her daily mail and papers. These changes helped her take back her time and feel more capable of taking on everything that she needed to focus on in her busy life.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The biggest tip I recommend to the colleagues in my industry are the same I would recommend to everyone: Your health is your wealth, so ensure you are giving your physical and mental health as much attention as your work — both in your home and away from home.
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 grateful to have many people who have helped me achieve success along my journey — from my first advertising agency job where my boss let me present to a client early on to a leader who gave me the opportunity to create a research department with no experience, just the passion to do it. But he person who stands out for me the most was a coach named Alison. She helped me develop to a level I didn’t realize was possible, and provided me real, brutal feedback — the kind you really would prefer not to hear, but you need to know.
She helped me understand to rise into the C-Suite you no longer will produce results based on your own abilities, but rather on your ability to lead and grow people. The growth I had as a leader in the five years that followed our first conversation were transformational — I was grateful for her honesty and the tools she provided me to help me learn and grow.
To this day, I use the tools and techniques that Alison taught me to run my business and my life and I have a much more fulfilled life because of it.
Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people? There are a few big reasons why delegating is such a challenge, including a lack of trust in the person they are delegating the task to, and the belief they can get the task done quicker and possibly better if they do it themselves.
At Neat Little Nest, I like to delegate to my team by sharing my initial vision for what needs to be done, check for understanding then give them plenty of room to do their work. One thing I share with my clients with children, and through my social media channels, is the importance for parents to delegate effectively to their children. I’ve seen many parents, especially moms, trying to do everything themselves and burning out. As important as it is to delegate to our teams at work, it’s important to also delegate to our teams at home — either way it provides the leader with the balance they need to find peace and enjoyment in life.
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?
When it comes to trust, remember without delegating work you will not be able to build the trust you need to delegate more work. You are required to give up control. While it might be true you are able to get tasks done quicker than a new employee with less experience — by extending trust and delegating, they will be able to grow their own skills and, in turn, take more off your plate, freeing you up to work on larger challenges. Recently I learned I had to have knee surgery, and would be recovering from it at the same time my book manuscript was due. I had to rethink how I would do business and write the book because I would be on crutches for 8–12 weeks. I began to delegate larger tasks to my team that allowed them to take on aspects of the business in a new way and allowed a growth in their skill sets for future projects.
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.
- Think before you delegate. I have delegated effectively, and I’ve delegated terribly. When I give myself proper time to think about what exactly I’m asking of the person to whom I’m delegating, the results are always better. I remember a time when I was so busy that I couldn’t see straight and I just wanted the workload off my plate — and fast! I knew I had to delegate and so I started delegating right and left. Sadly, I hadn’t given myself the time to think enough about what would really help me get out from under the workload. Because I delegated so ineffectively, because of rework and rethinking I was left with even more work. Take a pause, especially when you’re drowning, to get your own head clear about what needs to come off your plate before you put it successfully on someone else’s.
- Be clear about your request. The clearer you can be about what you’re requesting to be done, the better. For big and new tasks, this includes verbal and written communication so you can check for understanding. I had a person on my team that I learned had a short-term memory challenge. I didn’t realize this when we first started working together and we did most of our communicating verbally. When he shared with me it was difficult for him to remember everything, I started to provide high-level recaps of our conversations in writing with key dates, so we were on the same page. I began to do this more broadly with members of my team and it was helpful in all cases and I do this consistently to this day.
- Remind yourself that the person might fail on the first try. This can be hard especially if you are trying to take things off your plate, but it’s just the reality. Early in my career I was delegating to one of my direct reports and they just couldn’t quite seem to get the task done well. While it did take additional conversations and feedback to my direct report, eventually we ended up with a wonderful result. The next time we had a project, ramp-up was much quicker — and we both grew from the experience.
- Be available for questions. I know as a busy leader it can feel exhausting to have your own work to complete, as well as be available to help others, but that’s part of the deal when it comes to delegating. I found that having a set time each week where my door was open so my team could ask questions made it easy for my team to ask questions and keep projects moving.
- Celebrate a job well done. This step is so important and not one that I did very well for many years. I was so focused on crossing things off my to-do list and looking at the next item, I wouldn’t take the time to really celebrate a job well done. As I grew as a leader, so did my ability to recognize the importance of celebrating big and small accomplishments, but certainly a thank you for all tasks is welcome and important.
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? Sometimes this cliche does ring true. Often the person doing the delegating has more experience than the person to whom they are delegating. Additionally, they also have a picture in their mind of what they hope the end result will be, so it makes sense that with a clear picture of what they are looking for they will be able to do it better themselves. The challenge with that thinking is that it is limiting potential. Often our vision is only as good as our one mind can think about it. Delegating some of the work can both take tasks off a leader’s plate, but more importantly, different and potentially better ideas will come from widening the group of people helping bring a leader’s vision to life. By doing everything yourself, you’re limiting potential. By widening the circle and delegating, you will see additional ways to look at a problem — and those may be much greater than your original idea.
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 would start a movement that would help everyone in the world have a home.
How can our readers further follow you online?
@neatlittlenest on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, TikTok and LinkedIn
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!