Customers calling, tasks falling from the sky and the printer has just broken. And then this trainee asks you how to reply to an irritated customer on social media. You open your mouth… and say: “Let me handle it”. Does it sound familiar?
Delegating under pressure
When we are under time pressure we experience difficulty thinking in perspective. We tend to be in a fight or flight mode — ready to make quick decisions and put out fires. But making everything on our own leads to ending up under piles of unread emails with a team lacking skills and a sense of responsibility.
If there is an emergency — put on your mask first — just take a breath. Force yourself to slow down. Let’s assume there is an aggressive comment on your social media — does it make a difference if you reply in a minute or in 5 minutes? Usually the second option is fine enough.
Training on site
The emergency situation is a good opportunity to mentor your trainee. Use the five minutes you have to sit together and listen to the other persons idea of a reply. Then emphasize what sounds convincing and what you would articulate in a different way and why so.
It is important to explain the logic behind your feedback e.g. “at first agree with the author of the aggressive comment on whatever makes sense to you in their remark, she cools down. Then add your point in a calm and balanced manner”.
Ask the other person to repeat and make sure what the other person says still makes sense. It is like learning a new jujitsu move — it may take some repetition for the disciple to master the move.
Investing time to save time
It is natural to feel that explaining the reasoning when you are under time pressure is a waste of time. But this is in fact saving time. You will invest once and hopefully it will not happen again. In the future your trainee will, probably, be more confident and qualified to react on his own.
Listing your sins
Find a moment to list the most common situations you find yourself in when you decide to do the job, instead of explaining the technique to the person responsible. Take the top three and ask yourself — why does it happen?. What are you afraid of and what is your gold standard for that task? If you know why, you will find out what to do about it.
Prevention through training
Immediately plan a training for your staff. Ask them to come up with examples of situations from each of the three categories. Spend some time dissecting the process and making people use the conclusions in practice.
Establishing a bond
The above rule applies not only to emergency situations, giving instructions and coaching unqualified team members. Investing time in communicating your expectations and understanding the needs of your co-workers is never a waste of time, despite not delivering any immediate, measurable result. It will lead to developing stronger bonds and increasing the morale of your team.
I do not pretend to be perfect in communication. I recall times when I used to jump to conclusions after hearing the first three words of somebody’s message. I know what it is like to do everything on my own out of pure perfectionism and have people waiting for tasks.
The one thing I have realized is that sometimes a conversation is all it takes. In some inexplicable way talking about each other’s feelings and expectations works like a magic relationship enhancer — boosts mutual trust and motivation. Try it!