Erin Alli On How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results
Be clear on your expectations. Make sure the person you are handing the task over to is clear on what you are trying to achieve. Provide them with as much information as you can for them to be successful. Be open to feedback as well to make sure what you are asking for is something that can be done in the time frame you are expecting.
As part of my series about “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erin Alli.
Erin Alli is a Fractional COO that has helped clients for 18 years to be able to work “on” their business, while Erin works “in” the business. She is an expert at team building and delegating the right task to the right person so there is efficiency in the business and the team all enjoy what they are working on. You can learn more about Erin at https://www.ErinAlli.com.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thanks so much for including me in this series! I opened my own business 18 years ago so that I could stay at home with my son after he was born. I was always great at business operations and learned at that time about virtual assistants. I began my career in that area and quickly shifted gears to being an online business manager as that was a better fit for the type of service I provided.
In time, clients told me that was not the right “title” for what I did either and introduced me to what a fractional COO does. I realized I provided all of that to my clients and again shifted my services to that area.
I loved that I could help entrepreneurs get the growth they were striving for without them having to hire a full time executive for their company.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When I first started my journey as a business owner, my son was very young so that had challenges of its own with being a mom and working and fitting it all in together. I made my schedule work around his. I worked when he slept, or in the early mornings or late at night. I always managed to get it all done though!
I never considered giving up. I knew this was what I wanted to be doing with my life and that in time my schedule would change as his did. I was all in for doing the hard things that others may not want to do so that I could have the freedom to be home with my son.
My drive to continue came from knowing that I was making a difference for the clients I helped while also being available for my family. Even when things got hard, I always stayed positive, knew it would work out, and kept moving forward.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
One of my favorite stories from when I was starting out was one day when I was on a client call and my son decided he was hungry. He was adamant about wanting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was holding him while he was repeatedly asking for it. I thought I had the call on mute. The call wrapped up and about an hour later my client emailed me to let me know she was craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
I realized I was not as slick as I thought I was and that the call was not muted the whole time.
It was pretty funny though and we both got a laugh from it.
That was when I realized that it was OK with my clients that I was human and not perfect. They knew I had a family, and they knew my family came first no matter what. It helped me to understand that I could be “real” with my clients, and they weren’t going to stop working with me because of it.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think my company stands out because of the skillsets I have and the connections I have to others that can provide amazing levels of support as well.
I have such a wide range of skillsets I often get asked if I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I just love learning new things, so I continually take courses or read books to further my knowledge.
I am a copywriter and copyeditor in addition to being a fractional COO. I have a degree in Graphic Design. My team has amazing skillsets in all different areas, and I have wonderful teams that I work with outside of my own that I can recommend when needed.
I have a thorough understanding of what goes on behind the scenes in a business and can support my clients in more ways because of that.
I am never afraid to recommend someone that is a better fit for a project because I know that there is more than enough abundance in the world, and we can all work together and help each other rather than compete with each other.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I realized many years ago the importance of self-care and setting boundaries. You can accomplish a lot, but you need to make sure it isn’t all work and no play.
Some of the things I implement in my day that I suggest to others are:
A morning routine — I spend time reading, writing and meditating.
Exercise — Do some type of movement daily that you enjoy.
Healthy diet/hydration — Eating right and drinking enough water are important to functioning at your best.
Sleep — getting enough sleep is crucial. I used to think burning the candle at both ends made me more productive, but if didn’t. Having a wind-down period at night helps too. Some warm tea, a good book and low lighting are all relaxing for me.
Put boundaries in place — Once I did this it was a game changer. I put boundaries around my time (work and family) and I started to time block for projects so I was more productive.
Take breaks — I always make sure to take breaks and move around a bit between projects as well. It keeps me focused when I get back to my desk.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
First, I have to say that my husband has always supported me on this journey. He stood by me even in the early days when I had no idea what I was doing or how to reach my goals, but he always encouraged me to keep going and to expand.
I have accountability partners that are so important to me. I love my time with them. It is a time of learning, mentoring, sharing, and celebrating. We love to support each other and have become great friends.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?
Back when I was starting my business, I was trying to do it all myself, whether I knew how or not. This resulted in a lot of wasted time and frustration.
One day, I tried to fix an issue on my website for 7 hours. Finally, in tears, I called a friend that was a designer. While I was pouring my heart out about how I was struggling, she asked for my login. I provided it and 5 minutes later, during our call, she told me the issue was fixed.
I couldn’t believe I had spent all that time trying to figure out something that she, the expert, fixed in 5 minutes.
She told me I should have called her 6 and a half hours before.
Since then, I learned my lesson. There are highly skilled people that know all the things you don’t know or don’t like to do. They can do those things in way less time than you can and produce much better results.
When you delegate those tasks, it frees up your time to do the work that only you can. It gives you more brain space to truly be an expert in your field, rather than trying to know everything.
Delegation makes your business more efficient and enjoyable to both you and your team if you are delegating correctly and to the right person.
It shows your clients and customers that you know how to grow in your business, not get caught in the weeds and unable to be successful.
Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?
Delegating can be a challenge at first because we often think we can do the task quicker or better ourselves. We struggle with trusting someone else to take things on because we think “our way” is the only way to do something.
What I have realized over the years is that the expert often has a different approach than I would. It is something I can learn from.
Another challenge to delegating is the feeling of giving up control. Our business was built up by us and we struggle to let others in to help us grow it more.
We also wonder if we are hiring the right person for the task. We second guess our own judgement.
In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?
In my opinion, to delegate effectively you need to be open to ideas that others have. They may have suggestions to do something better or faster or more efficiently than you currently do it. You need to be open to hearing them out and letting them try new ways of accomplishing tasks.
You also need to be open to giving up some control. If you are letting your team in to help you must trust them to do the project and carry it through without needing to be hands on yourself through the process. This will only make things more difficult and will hold up progress.
Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.
5 things you need to know to delegate effectively and be completely satisfied with the results are:
- Be open to new ways of doing things. The way you have done something isn’t the only way. Let other people show you how they do things. You may be surprised at what you learn.
- Communicate. Make sure you are in communication with whomever you are delegating to. Be available if they have questions so they can get the task done on time.
- Be clear on your expectations. Make sure the person you are handing the task over to is clear on what you are trying to achieve. Provide them with as much information as you can for them to be successful. Be open to feedback as well to make sure what you are asking for is something that can be done in the time frame you are expecting.
- Make sure you are delegating to someone that has the skillsets to accomplish the task. Don’t assume that someone can take on all your needs. You may need more than one team member to delegate to. For example, I know a lot of web designers that are not copywriters, but their clients expect them to do everything. That is not how to achieve stellar results.
- Be ready to add to your team as needed. Don’t expect one person to continue to add tasks onto their plate without any help. While you will feel better about your workload, that person will get overwhelmed which could lead to them leaving the team. You want to check on your team regularly to make sure they can handle their workload. If they are overwhelmed, find other team members to help or bring in someone new that can work on those extra tasks.
One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?
This is one of the challenges people face when getting ready to delegate but the saying is false. Just because you don’t have your hand in everything in your business doesn’t mean it isn’t being handled correctly. If you follow the tips I outlined above, you will be delegating in a way that will have the best person on the task so it will be completed quickly, efficiently, and effectively.
You holding on to all the tasks and trying to do it all is just going to bring your business to a halt. No one can do everything, and no one should be. Growth comes with opening up and letting others help you.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I strongly believe in self-sufficiency. When you teach someone how to rely on their talents and continue to grow in their skillsets, they become unstoppable. They can accomplish great wins for their lives and the lives of others when they believe in themselves.
A movement I would start would be a mentoring movement where experienced business owners put together resources and come together once a month online to answer questions and provide support to the community that taps into their resources.
This would be for teens and young adults. If we start to teach our children young, that they can do anything they put their mind to, and that they have access to everything they need to be successful, that would be life-changing for a lot of people.
How can our readers further follow you online?
I am active on LinkedIn if anyone would like to connect there. Otherwise, my site has blogs and resources that I share with others to help at whatever stage you are in.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
Thank you so much for allowing me to join you!