Joel Patterson of The Vested Group: How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results
An Interview With Jerome Knyszewski
Debrief. Once you’ve delegated a task or project, make sure you follow up with your team once the job is complete. You’re not checking for completion — ask them if they felt like the right person for the task? Did they feel like they had what they needed, both internally and externally, to be a smashing success? Were they challenged and engaged by what you delegated? Explore their feedback, and you’ll be able to evaluate your delegation skills based on their responses.
As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joel Patterson, Founder of The Vested Group, a Technology Services Provider focused on the licensing, implementation, and support of a modern cloud-based ERP, CRM & eCommerce solution for growing companies called Oracle+Netsuite. He has over twenty years of experience in the consulting industry and has worked with premier firms, including Arthur Andersen and Cap Gemini. Joel earned his degree in Business Administration from Baylor University and currently resides in Lucas, TX.
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?
I founded The Vested Group in 2011 with the simple goal of creating a consulting firm whose primary focus is its people, not clients. I found inspiration while fresh out of college, working at Arthur Anderson. I didn’t know how they did it, but I knew I wanted to capture some of the magic they had in recruiting, onboarding, and retaining some of the best people I’d ever met. Happy and engaged consultants create happy clients, but nothing destroys projects and relationships like unhappy teams. In this reflection, it occurred to me that if I wanted to develop a successful business, I just needed to create a workplace and culture that I would like to be part of. Fast forward nine years, and I am proud to say that many of the core tenets I believe in are alive and well at The Vested Group.
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?
Like many on the entrepreneurial path, I started with nothing and managed to scratch and claw my way to where I am now. I had always assumed that college would follow high school, but my naïve decisions sent me down a much more difficult road. I found myself married at 19, a father by 21, and working long hours in construction as a ceramic tile and granite installer just to survive. I grew up having much higher expectations for my career, but here I was, working a job that didn’t inspire me in the slightest. I knew I had to redirect my trajectory for the sake of myself and, more importantly, the sake of my family.
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?
As luck would have it, a relative offered my family and me a place to live near Baylor University in Waco, TX. If I could figure out how to pay for school, I had the opportunity to earn a college degree. Four years later, I had my bachelor’s degree in MIS, and I landed a job at one of the top consulting firms in the nation, Arthur Andersen. I loved everything about working at Arthur Andersen. The work was rewarding, but, more importantly, the people were smart, driven, and loved to have a good time. I created such a bond with the people I worked with that I decided I wanted to start my own business with three of my coworkers.
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?
In preparing for a prospective client meeting, I noticed the client’s alma mater on his Linkedin profile. When we met, I made a light-hearted quip about his college’s top rival, thinking we could have a mutual laugh at their expense. Immediately I could tell this was not the right move when he looked at me seriously and said, “That’s where my son is attending college.” I believe this is what they call sticking your foot in your mouth. The takeaway here is: due diligence is excellent, but diplomacy is king!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Pretty much every organization you talk to these days will tell you what makes them different is their people. While most probably say this with the utmost sincerity — as do we! — The Vested Group has given a lot of thought to our differentiator, and we can be a little more precise. We’ve discovered that what makes our people different is something we refer to as TVGenius. What exactly is TVGenius?
TVGenius, [tee-vee-jeen-yuhs], noun:
- That unique set of superpowers each one of us has that make us brilliant or amazing. Sometimes this is easy to identify, like coding skills or an uncanny encyclopedic knowledge of saved search wildcards, and sometimes more elusive, like being able to diffuse a tense interaction merely by your tone of voice.
- That spark or flash of inspiration that pops up unintentionally and inexplicably wows everyone on your project team and beyond and consistently underscores who you are and why you fit in at The Vested Group so well.
- The only accurate answer to: where did he learn that? …how’d she come up with that? …when did you find that? …how did he know that? …how did she do that? It’s that cool thing you do that can’t be learned or taught but just is.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I’ve found a lot of value in peer mentorship programs. I belong to a professional organization of fellow entrepreneurs, and we meet regularly to discuss our successes and failures as well as share tips and advice. Being able to share this journey with others has helped me grow as a business owner, and it also allows me to offer encouragement and support to my peers, which helps keep burnout at bay.
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?
Delegating is a top skill for business owners or anyone in a leadership role to develop because you will not be able to scale your business without growing your team. Having the skills to put the right people in the right positions can make or break that growth.
Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?
Most people in a leadership position are there because they care deeply about their performance and reputation. Whether the task you are delegating is extremely simple or incredibly complex, you may feel reluctant to pass it along to someone and put your trust in them to get the job done successfully. The beauty of delegation is that you can accomplish more with a strong team sharing the work — the difficulty lies in assigning the right tasks to the right people to achieve success.
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?
Delegating should be seen as turning over full control to the team or individual you have chosen. This means the chosen team will own the task or project from beginning to end and run the show as they see fit. Delegating is not creating a team and then giving that team orders on what to do and how to do it. Your goal in delegating is to turn over a project to others so you can focus on other things yourself.
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.
- Learn your team members’ strengths. You can use several assessment tools to determine your team members’ strengths — my favorite is Gallup StrengthsFinder, but you can use whatever suits your needs and allows you to be consistent. Have your team members take the strengths assessment as part of the onboarding process, and you’ll find value in weaving this knowledge into all kinds of interactions, even beyond delegation.
- Learn what each strength brings and needs. This one is key: beyond identifying your team’s strengths, you have to be committed to learning how each power contributes value and what each strength needs to draw energy from. Our organization has found great value in partnering with a business coach who meets with team members individually and in groups to explore the strengths in depth. Armed with this knowledge, you can choose the tasks and projects best suited to particular team members. You’ll be scratching your head at how easy it is to delegate once you can pair the employee with a role seemingly tailor-made for them.
- Communicate with transparency. Once you’ve identified who you will delegate something to and why be transparent in your communication. Let your team members know that you see what makes them exceptional, and you want to tap into their strengths with an opportunity to shine. Sharing your specific reasons behind thinking they are the best person for the job not only validates their strengths, but it also shows your authenticity in selecting them to tackle the task.
- Debrief. Once you’ve delegated a task or project, make sure you follow up with your team once the job is complete. You’re not checking for completion — ask them if they felt like the right person for the task? Did they feel like they had what they needed, both internally and externally, to be a smashing success? Were they challenged and engaged by what you delegated? Explore their feedback, and you’ll be able to evaluate your delegation skills based on their responses.
- Trust yourself and trust your team. Once you’ve made an informed decision to delegate, do so with confidence and then let the group you’ve chosen take the lead. One of the worst things you can do when delegating is to stick around and stay involved — this undermines the team you’ve chosen and doesn’t accomplish opening up time and space for you to do other things. The beauty of being skilled at delegating is you can turn tasks over to people and teams you know will be successful.
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?
The thought, “if you want something done right, do it yourself,” is the mantra of micromanagers and martyrs. To be skilled at delegating, you must be open to the idea that there are many great ways to accomplish something, and often team members will wow you with a perspective you would never have imagined. Having a mindset of the only right way to get something done is by doing it yourself will quickly close off any opportunities you have to learn and grow with your team.
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. :-)
If I could start a movement to bring the most amount of good to most people, it would involve electronics recycling. Being in the technology field, I see firsthand the amount of electronic waste people create daily. I feel so strongly about bringing awareness to the challenges we face with the repair and proper disposal of our electronic devices that my wife, Hillary Patterson, and I created a short film about this issue called Silicon Mountain. We’d love for you to take a look at the film at www.siliconmountainmovie.com
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
About the interviewer: Jerome Knyszewski (Kenchefski) is the CEO of HeavyShift. Jerome serves as an advisor to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies as well as entrepreneurs who disrupt their industries and therefore tend to be targets of malicious online attacks. His company builds, protects, and repairs the online presence & reputation of many celebrities, products and beloved brands.