Stop Tying People's Shoes

Recently in one of my SuccessLAB groups, the topic of training came up for discussion. One of the members, who is in a leadership role in his family’s financial firm, was struggling to decide whether or not to train others on his team on how to administer some specific products or continue to handle them himself. He admitted that he wanted to delegate those tasks and get them off his plate, but that training would be time-consuming, and it was simply easier for him to do the work himself rather than spend time training.

The members with kids compared the situation to having a six-year-old who can’t tie his shoes. When you are trying to make the bus, or get to soccer practice, or just get out the door, watching the kids fumble around for what seems like forever is painful, and it is faster to take the 12 seconds to tie his shoes and get moving. The problem is that those 12-second increments eventually add up, especially if you are tying his shoes multiple times each day. Add to that the fact that your six-year-old is not learning or developing any new skills, and the time and opportunity cost in the long run quickly eclipses the time saved in the short-term. The long-term benefits of teaching your boy to tie his own shoes are clear— he improves and becomes more independent, and you have more time to focus on other, more important details (like getting his little sister strapped into her car seat— it never ends, does it!).

The key to success is to not teach your boy to tie his shoes on the way out the door. You won’t teach thoroughly as you are crunched for time, he won’t learn anything, you’ll be frustrated and lose even MORE time, and it will likely end in tears (his or yours). You need to set time aside when the task is not urgent and you are not in a rush to get somewhere, so you can dedicate the time and patience to teaching and training (the bunny goes around the tree and into the hole….) properly.

It is no different in business, whether you own and run the company, or manage a team. You will eventually ascend to a level where it is no longer worth your time to personally handle certain (important) activities. You’ll need to delegate those tasks, which often means teaching someone a new skill. Just like teaching the six-year-old to tie his shoes, the time to train your employee is not hours before a project deadline, but rather, to set time aside on your schedule specifically to work on developing that new skill. Ideally, this is something you set on your calendar on a regular basis. Hold yourself and your team accountable to the appointment, and build a new, good habit.

The agreement in our group was to set aside 90 minutes each week dedicated to training and development, as well as thinking about the business and planning for the future (things that we do not give ourselves time to do on a regular basis). This commitment equated to 4% of the workweek dedicated exclusively to the big things…. to thinking and acting like a business owner and leader.

Can you make that same commitment, to yourself, your team, and your business? This comes down to simple delegation, with some training mixed in. Delegate tasks to your people, teach them to execute projects. Dedicate that time to train up front, then use that time you get back to focus on what matters most.

P.S.— If you are not sure how to find that 90 minutes, or what to do with it when you do, come to my virtual workshop tomorrow, which focuses on keeping your eye on the “business owner” stuff, and not getting bogged down in the rest. Can’t make it? Let’s set up a time to chat one on one.


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