Does life ever sneak up on you and teach you a lesson? You, too? Glad to know I’m not alone.
Saturday, I had to work at sparkspace. We don’t do a lot of Saturday meetings because we are primarily a business meeting space and most businesses don’t make their staff go to meetings on the weekend. It’s probably why we have very few revolts in this country.
You might be thinking, “Good golly, doesn’t he have staff he could make work on Saturday?”
Sadly, no. No, he doesn’t.
Like many businesses, we’re currently operating very lean and mean (ok, not mean…we’re actually lean and friendly). That means that two of us are now trying to do the work that eight of us used to do.
I realized this morning that my “superhero syndrome” that I thought had been cured was, in fact, only in remission. It took an extreme circumstance (a significantly downsized staff) to make it flare back up again.
You see, when I first started my business I did everything myself. I was Superman. I did the marketing, I did the bookkeeping, I made the coffee, I greeted every guest, I even cleaned the toilets!
Eventually, I was able to hire people to do many of those things. I took me a long, long time to learn how to delegate even the most simple tasks to others. But I did learn.
Then the economy nosedived and our staff shrank, so I’m back to doing many of my previously delegated tasks. Here’s what I realized on Saturday: I’ve taken it too far. I try to do too many things myself, even when I don’t have to!
I took my kids to work with me on Saturday. Surprisingly, they went willingly, and even cheerfully. In fact, they asked if they could HELP me at work! My immediate reaction was, “Who are you, and what have you done with my real kids?”
But they insisted. They really wanted to help.
Our building is locked on the weekend, so when we have a weekend event we have to have someone to let people in the front door. Typically, I would do that job myself while running back and forth to make coffee, greet guests, etc. The kids practically begged me to let them play doorboy and doorgirl.
I couldn’t have a 9 & 7 year old greeting people at the front door, could I? They would set off the alarm, they wouldn’t know what to tell people as they arrived, and they’d surely get into a no-holds-barred cage fight if left unsupervised for more than five minutes. No, I thought, this was a job I should do.
Then the wise voice of the Universe smacked me on the side of the head and said, “You can’t do it all. Let them help…especially since they really seem to want to.”
So I delegated the job to them, and they performed it amazingly well. Not just amazingly well for a 9 & 7 year old, but for anybody. They were friendly, they were helpful, they guided our guests to the elevator like a couple of professional tour guides, and there wasn’t a single cage fight! By delegating this job to them, we were actually able to perform way better customer service together than I ever could have all by myself.
In my mind now, I’m going through the hundreds of tasks and responsibilities that fall in my lap each week. There are probably a dozen or so that I really don’t have to do personally, but my superhero syndrome has been forcing me to do them instead of delegating.
If you’re a great service person, one of the worst things you can do is try to do everything yourself. You can’t be there all the time, and even if you could you’d probably burn out quickly! If you’re like me and you suffer from “superhero syndrome,” you need to work on a cure before your service really begins to suffer.
Delegation is one effective treatment. That might mean you have to train somebody, set more clear expectations, and even check up on your staff to make sure they’re doing what you want them to.
Think I didn’t check up on my 9 & 7 year olds at the front door? Are you nuts? They’re 9 & 7! Of course I checked up on them. And they totally surprised me by exceeding my expectations.
Lesson learned, life. Thanks for teaching me…again.