America’s Leadership Expert : Accomplish Tasks

Clay Stairs: This is Clay Stairs,America’s Leadership Expert with Podcast Number 60, the Stairsteps, step number four. Today, we’re talking about the what. Assigning the work, identifying what work needs to be done.

Once again, we are walking through the six steps to freedom that we have identified with as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert . We’ve got step number one is the why, the purpose, the mission statement. This creates purpose in our company.

Step number two was where and when. It’s identifying our goals, where we want to be by what time. This creates energy and motion in the company.

Next of all, step number three. We talked about who. Who is going to do what in our responsibility chart? This creates confidence in each of our people in the organization.

Now, step number four, we’re going to be talking about the what. What is the work that needs to be done? It’s the task. It’s down in the weeds. It’s working in your business. It’s accomplishing the what. The daily task that creates growth and traction in our company.

As Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert I find that unfortunately, this is where so many entrepreneurs and business leaders get trapped. They find themselves trapped in the weeds. They get in this place. Again, it’s very important that the what gets accomplished, but the problem is, is that the what is constantly being accomplished by the leader, by the CEO, by the owner of the organization.

We need to make sure that we identify what work needs to be done each day. Once again, we are leaning heavily upon our responsibility chart. Who is going to do what work? Once we have assigned who is going to be doing what work, now we can actually begin to consider delegation.

As Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert , what I find so often is leaders struggle with delegation because they ask people to do things, but the people don’t do it or they don’t do it in time or they don’t do it to the standard that the leader wants them to do it. That’s because we have not delegated appropriately. We have told them to do it, but we haven’t given them the step-by-step instructions on how to do it the way we want them to do it.

If you do it this way, if you follow these four steps, you will produce the outcome. You will produce the results that I want to have produced. Again, if we don’t assign specific steps in how to do a task, then people will simply find the best way for them. This is the way that I do it. This is the best way that I have found to do it. Yeah, other people do it this way, but I do it this way.

Once again, as a manager, you can’t manage different. When we are assigning tasks, once we have found a successful way to accomplish a task that produces a result that we like and that we want, we have to capture those steps so that we can now pass those steps to everyone and everybody follows these steps.

What I want to talk about here are five different moves, five different ways to help you assign, to help you identify the what. What work needs to be done each day.

As Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert , this is something that I had to learn so much. This was a weak spot for me as I started my company several years ago. I was not a great manager. I was the one that was just kind of the big picture leader and I would bark from the mountaintop, “You need to do this. You need to do that,” thinking that people thought like I did.

They would just naturally pick up how to do it. They would just naturally pick up the motivation, naturally pick up the reason why they were doing everything and they would do it the way that I wanted them to do it.

But, what do you know? I was surprised. Those surprises most often led to frustration because people weren’t able to accomplish the work the way I wanted it to be done and in the timeframe that I wanted it to be done.

Again, for me, because I was not a detail person for so long in my leadership experiences, my leadership positions, many times I did not delegate tasks correctly. I did not delegate the details because I didn’t know the details. In fact, that’s why I was delegating because I didn’t know how to do it so I just wanted you to go do it.

That cost me about $120,000. I found in one of my companies as I found that there was some actually embezzlement that was going on, but because I didn’t understand all the steps and because I didn’t know all the steps, I had just turned it over to somebody in the finance world to take care of it for me. Of course, they kept telling me, “Yeah, that’s taken care of, Clay. That’s taken care of. It’s taken care of.”

Then, all of a sudden, I got the phone call from the IRS, after I found that all the money had been taken out of our account. Oops! Once again, for me to begin to assigning things, I have to be willing to go to the minutia for a certain amount of time to understand what the work is.

What I do is as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert is help leaders with that big picture mindset, take seasons, take time out to go into the minutia without feeling overwhelmed and stressed-out.

Let’s talk about these five different steps on how we are going to identify the work. Number one, we have to have a master to-do list. Yes. This is a master to-do list. It’s all the work that needs to get done in each of the areas of responsibility in my company so that I can be successful.

Again, now that I have broken out my company into all of these different levels of responsibility, now I can go into each box and begin to assign work in each one of the boxes as opposed to only having four boxes where it’s just confusing and overwhelming to actually come up with a task list.

Now, what I’ve done is I’ve broken things into specific responsibilities. You are responsible for making outgoing phone calls. Here is the list of tasks that you need to do to accomplish this job specifically. Each box needs to be guided each day. This is the work that I want accomplished in this box today.

If we don’t do that, if we don’t have the daily work list, then what happens so quickly and so easily is you will find that there will be drift. Drift from the vision. Drift from the mission. Drift from actually what needs to be done to produce the results. Yes, people will be busy, but they are not accomplishing results. This is all about accountability. It’s not just about people putting in effort. It’s about people producing results.

Once again, this is very, very common. People saying, “Well, I did the best that I could. I did it to the best of my ability. That was all the time that I had to do. I tried my hardest.” All of this is focusing on effort and not on production. This can make it very difficult for us to move our company in the right direction to get the growth that we are desiring.

Once again, step number one, we want to create a master to-do list. Each box needs to have guided steps each day to avoid drift. We want to identify any redundant work each day. In a specific box, if there are responsibilities that need to be taken care of every single day, we want to be sure to identify that. Maybe redundant work that has to take place every single week or every single month or every single quarter. We have to identify the redundant work.

Then, also the way that we identify or the way that we write in these to-dos, is we have to have the classic, who is going to do it? What are we asking them to do? Where do they need to go to find support in accomplishing this activity? If they have questions? If they need extra training? Where do they need to go to find the extra support to do this?

Next of all, we have to have the how in this box. Okay? We’ve got the who, what, where, how. This is, is there specific training on how this needs to be done? Here is a link to the specific system, checklist, process that you need to follow to accomplish this task.

Finally, we have the when. This is when this needs to be accomplished.  America’s Leadership Expert I tell you, there is just nothing better to drive your company forward than this one word, when. When will this be accomplished?

Once again, in the master to-do, we want to make sure each box is guided every day to avoid drift. We want to identify any redundant work in that box. We want to make sure that when we are writing in a to-do, that there is the who, what, where, how and when.

Step number two in identifying the work that needs to be done. We’re going to create the to-do list every single day for each person. There’s a master to-do list and then there’s like an action list or a today to-do list for each box. Okay? Once again, this is in each box. This is what needs to be accomplished today.

Step number three. We need to be sure to share that to-do list with everyone in the organization. This is why I strongly encourage you to use some type of software that allows you to share your daily task list, your daily to-do list with everyone.

Step number four. Now, it’s time to manage this to-do list each day. Notice, I’m saying on each one of these. Each day. Yes. You have to be able to keep your finger on the pulse each day.

For me, in my management responsibilities, I want to be able to manage from a distance. When I’m creating systems, when I’m creating to-dos, I want to make sure for me, I want to make sure that I can assign to-dos in such a way that I don’t have to be present every single day.

That’s why I think it’s so important in each one of the to-dos, on each one of the items, as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert, that you are sure to put in the who, what, where, how and when. If you don’t have each one of these, I promise you, if you just have here’s what needs to be done. You will get a myriad of questions.

People saying, “Hey, Clay. I got a question on this. Clay, I got a question. Clay, can you show me this. Clay, where’s this. Clay, I need some help with this thing.” They will come back to you over-and-over because you haven’t assigned the task well.

Then finally, step number five, what we’re going to do here now that we are managing the work, now we need to evaluate the to-do list each-and-every day. We have to evaluate. I want to make sure that with each to-do, as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert, with each to-do, there is always a way to validate that that got done. A quick and easy way to validate that that specific task got done.

We’re going to be talking a little bit more about this in our next podcast, podcast number 61, talking about the how. This is one of the very first systems, the very first system that we put together in our organization, is the responsibility chart or the ORG chart.

Usually, what I find from there, the very second one, as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert, is I’m training America’s entrepreneurs and business leaders and business managers. The second system that we put together is their time management system. Very soon after that, we begin to design systems in each of these areas of what work needs to be accomplished.

What we want to be careful of is getting trapped in the what. So many times, we have identified as business leaders, we have identified the what, but we haven’t quite learned how to delegate. It just seems like there’s not enough time. There’s no way that anyone’s going to be able to do it as good as I can do it, so just move out of the way, let me do it. It’s just easier if I do it.

The five steps here in identifying the what is create a master to-do list. Step number two. Create the to-do list for each day or your action list. Share this to-do list with everybody in your organization. Manage the to-do list on a daily basis and evaluate the to-do list every single day.

This is Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert with podcast number 60. The Stairsteps to Freedom. Creating a business that runs without you, so you can enjoy your life.

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This is Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert with podcast number 61. The Stairsteps to Freedom. Creating a business that runs without you. Today, we’re talking about stair step number five. The how. We have been going over each of the six steps to freedom.

As Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert, I’ve found over-and-over as I’m working with business entrepreneurs, business leaders, business managers, that so often we get trapped in the overwhelming amount of work that has to be accomplished every day. Getting overwhelmed, just bombarded with the task and putting out fires every single day.

This is a trap that we fall in as business owners because yes, there is a ton of work that needs to be done every single day, but unfortunately, because we haven’t properly assigned responsibilities. Remember, that was step number three? We don’t have an adequate accountability chart or organizational chart.

What happens is, the work just comes in and I feel as a leader that I have to accomplish it, because I’m the one that knows how to do it best. Or, if I don’t know how to do it very good, I’ve just delegated it to somebody, but I’m finding that they are not doing it very well either because I have not been able to hold them accountable. I have not assigned them specific tasks each and every day.

As we move to step number four, what I train people as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert, what I train people here in step number five, this is where you find freedom. This is the sweet spot. This is where we want to get.

Right now, in my company, we are experiencing a huge growth spurt. My master to-do list specifically for me, my action items, are all about creating and designing and establishing and identifying. It’s not, “Do this. Make this phone call and do this thing.”

All of these are creating systems. It’s creating the how so that in this growth spurt, I can begin to delegate more-and-more activities to other people so I can be focused on the cutting edge of my company.

I can stay out ahead of my company, but if I don’t create the how, if I don’t create the systems, than what happens, I promise you, by default, and I find this all the time as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert, all the time with leaders, and business owners, and entrepreneurs across the country, they get trapped in the what. Just too many leaders get trapped. They get stuck in the overwhelming amount of work that needs to get accomplished every day.

Today, as we’re talking about step number five, the how, we’re focusing on designing systems and processes, checklists. Now, that we’re doing the … This is the working on the business as opposed to the what is working in your business.

Yes, both of them are important, but if you’re not careful, you will get trapped in working in your business and never have the time to work on your business. Once again, this is the step, this is the sweet spot, this is where you find freedom but so many business owners are not able to get to this level because they are simply overwhelmed with the amount of work.

What happens is, you get to a place, and I remember being in this place before, before I became Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert, when I was still in training and then when I was working in a company and leading a company, people would ask me, “Hey, Clay. How’s business going?” My response, although it never quite felt right, this was the response I would have. “I’m as busy as I want to be,” because I did not have systems in place that would identify the how.

As we grew, as things happened, and we were growing as an organization, but growth meant simply more-and-more what. It created more-and-more work for me to do rather than having a system that was in place that would allow me to build my company on the back of systems.

Again, as we grew and as things got more-and-more successful, the company simply became more-and-more heavy upon my shoulders because I wasn’t able to delegate. I didn’t know exactly who I needed …

All I knew was that I needed help, but as I became Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert, I became to learn, and this was a huge learning curve for me, but I dove into it and embraced it, and over the last six years, have actually come to a place where I really thrive in this area.

It’s an area that used to be very weak, but it wasn’t weak because it was not in me to do. It was weak because I had not built that muscle. I think it was there inside of me to be a strong manager, but I had just never exercised that muscle. I had never learned.

I had never spent time as a manager, but now that I’ve been doing it in my six different companies, over the last six years, I’m finding that I actually enjoy and find a lot of energy in the management, in designing systems, in working on the how.

What’s that done for me is it has allowed me to own six different companies, but I only have a three day work week. I work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It has created time freedom for me. Mondays and Fridays have become simply just planning days. Days when I’m meeting with others for coffee. They are pretty open for me. Most of my work is accomplished on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

It creates four day weekends. Can you imagine? Again, this is how you do it. It’s all creating systems and processes. It’s the how. It’s focusing on the how that will create freedom for you as a business owner.

As Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert, this is what I get to travel the country talking to other business owners, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and managers and creating the how, in designing the how, in your company, putting together systems.

So often this is where the ball gets dropped. It’s easier just to do it yourself. This is how you delegate work to other people with a high confidence that it will actually get done correctly. When I say done correctly, what I mean there is the way you want it done with the results that you want to have.

It’s not just delegating work, “Here, go do this thing,” and different people coming up with different ways that they like to do it. It’s everybody following the same system. The same process. Once again, you cannot manage different. It’s very, very difficult to even lead different. We have to get everybody on the same page, doing the certain tasks, the same way.

Now, I can manage. Once again, so often, this is what keeps business owners. I’ve found so often as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert, I’ve found so often that this is the step that is missing in so many companies because the business leader, the entrepreneur, the owner of the company, the CEO, rather than designing systems and processes, they just do it themselves.

I know better than anybody else how to do this, so I’m just going to do it myself. I’m better than anybody else, so I’m just going to do it myself. Again, it’s not that that’s wrong, it’s just that if it’s going to be accomplished, it’s got to be you. All of a sudden, your business is growing, but it’s not bringing you into time freedom.

You may be getting financial freedom, because the business is growing, you’re making more money, but you’re not experiencing the time freedom. Therefore, you feel like you can never leave your company.

What I want to do again is talk a little bit about our to-do list and as we were talking about in our last podcast, talking about the what. I want to start with your to-do list. We’re going to talk about seven different steps in focusing on designing a system for the daily work. It’s not just delegating work, delegating tasks.

As a matter of fact, what I say very often as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert is I never want to delegate a task again. I shoot for that. That’s actually a goal of mine is not to delegate a task again. What I want to do is always delegate a system. Let’s talk about how we do that.

Step number one. How will each of the tasks need to be done? We need to identify. Now that you have this master to-do list and you have tasks in each one of these responsibility boxes, tasks that need to be accomplished, we need to be diving into each one of these tasks and figure out the best practice.

What is the best way for this task to be accomplished? Again, I want you to be very careful, not to just give this to somebody and have them report back to you. You’re going to need to be a part of it. We do this as we go. Do this as you go. Here we go.

Step number one. How will each task need to be done? Step number two. List the steps to accomplish each task. I have heard as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert, I have heard from different managers and business owners, “Clay, isn’t this a little condescending? Aren’t people going to feel like it’s a little elementary for them and they’re going to get frustrated and upset if I’m going to this level?”

The answer to that question is no. You must do this. If people get upset and mad about it, then they have to prove themselves that they are able to do it exactly the way you want them to do it. You’re not saying that they don’t know how to do it. You’re saying that they may not know how to do it the way you want them to do it with the result that you want them to come out with. Okay? That’s very important when people begin to push back.

Well, I kind of have my own way of doing this. Your own way doesn’t work in this company. You do it my way or I will promote you to customer status and you can now come and pay us for what we do rather than us paying you.

Step number three. Create videos where you can. This is the dynamic duo. In each of those boxes when you have tasks that need to be done, that there’s not only a list, there’s not only a process, there’s not only a system in place, step one, step two, step three, but there is also a video that shows the person how to do the steps.

Whether it’s something on their computer where you have recorded the screen while you have gone through the steps or whether it’s actually taking a video camera into the warehouse, into the workshop, into the thing and you’re showing people what it looks like when this is done correctly.

Step number four is, do this as you go. Please don’t try to just start on a weekend and start with a blank piece of paper and say, “Okay, I am now going to come up with a system.” Do it as you go. Just design it as you go. Keep track of what you’re doing that is successful.

Step number five. This is hard to delegate because most people, as we said a moment ago, most people don’t know how to do it. You are going to need to oversee the process of designing these systems. Once again, this where leaders go.

I’ve found this over-and-over as I consult companies across the country as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert. As I consult, what happens is, a business owner wants to just tell one of their managers. “Here, you design the system and bring it to me.” Okay?

Again, we just want to be very careful with that because it may just be the way they want to do it and not necessarily the way you want it done.

Step number six. This will create accountability. Now, you can actually begin to monitor. If everyone does this specific task the same exact way, then it should create the same exact result each time that you do it. We want to remove the personality, the way all of the differences that different people bring to this specific task.

Finally, number seven. This creates a cores, or a consistence, an organize, a reproducible and a systemized way of doing everything. It’s how work gets assigned. How is it managed? How is it evaluated? How is it verified? What you’re doing now is for each task, you are putting together a system that you can delegate to other people. You’re putting together a system of the way you want it to be done.

How is the work assigned? How is it managed? How is it evaluated? How is it verified that it was completed? This is what systems allow us to do.

Now, as a business leader, now as an entrepreneur, now as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert, I am able the manage from a distance. I have to be a micromanager because these are my companies. There’s nobody that’s going to manage these companies better than I do. I just want to be able to micromanage from a distance.

What I do is, I create systems that I can measure and evaluate from a distance. This allows me to do the things that I need to do, allows me to move forward and create other companies while I am managing the companies on a daily basis.

This is Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert with podcast number 61, the Stairsteps to Freedom. Step number five, the how.