Sharing Success – Tom Cortopassi
As a hands-on businessperson, one of the toughest management principles for me to develop in my early career was the proper use of delegation. Learning to effectively delegate is what helps owners to evolve from a manager to a leader of their organization.
Delegation matters because your team cannot perform to their full potential if they must constantly seek your direction and approval for routine tasks along the way.
Because hands-on owners like me expect perfection, we tend to micromanage. (“If you want it done right, do it yourself.”) So, delegating is easy to talk about but hard to do.
Still, learning how to properly delegate is freeing for both the manager and “the managed.”
Managers are freed by gradually gaining more time to spend improving the business and by helping their teams achieve increasingly productive results.
Teams are freed to use their own best judgement and feel more empowered.
There are two sides to learning delegation.
For owners, it requires giving yourself permission to give up what feels like control. But if you are micromanaging routine tasks, you are sacrificing being able to control the rest of your business!
For team members, it requires training them “how” to make independent decisions within your guidelines. More importantly, it is critical to consistently explain the “why” behind what each guideline is meant to achieve.
For example, employees develop a better understanding of why consistent food preparation matters when they realize that it is consistency that brings loyal customers back for the exact premium flavors they fell in love with!
When each person has been trained and deemed ready, a leader must demonstrate trust in that person by allowing them to make a few mistakes along the way. You cannot hover over their shoulder, questioning every step.
The challenge for former micromanagers is our fear of the unknown – “But what if the finished product/task is not done right?!?”
This is where the verification process comes into play. In our organization, I call this the “window into the process.”
In other words, whenever I handed over a new responsibility to someone on the team, I made sure that I still had visibility of the activity.
For example, one of my first jobs was purchasing and scheduling all the fresh ingredients that we needed to make various sauces during our summer Fresh Pack Tomato Season. After eventually training my replacement on how to use our ingredient-demand model, I continued to monitor the system (from my computer) to ensure that everything was on track.
Early on, I spotted a small problem or two that allowed me to further educate
this team member to some nuances of the process. As this person got better and better, I spent less and less time peering into my “window.”
Then, instead of trying to catch problems, I would periodically ask a question about an ingredient or a shipment. By doing this, I was able to reinforce the importance of this job and that I was still engaged in the process. Additionally, rather than assuming I knew all the answers, I demonstrated my trust and confidence in this person by asking for her perspective on upcoming situations.
So how does this fit into a restaurant context? Here is a real-world example.
A couple of months ago, our family went to dinner at a favorite ristorante and had a nice table near their open kitchen. Over the years, this restaurant has steadily grown in popularity and size.
I enjoyed watching the Chef-Owner perform the restaurant version of watching his “window into the process.” Every dish was taken to the counter area for the servers to pick up and deliver to the appropriate table.
We saw the owner periodically position himself at the pickup spot where he silently evaluated the final appearance of several dishes. Obviously, his cooks know he doesn’t check every dish. However, because he regularly checks some, they know how much quality matters to him.
Similarly, we also saw him helping deliver food to tables, greeting guests, and quietly providing positive feedback to employees along the way.
What was especially enjoyable was seeing how motivated and energetic his entire team remained throughout the evening! They really seem to enjoy working there. Given his ristorante’s ongoing popularity, it seems like a winning approach!
Until next time,
President and Co-Owner