186 - Giving up control when hiring an assistant - John Laurito

186 – Giving up control when hiring an assistant

Control: the power to make decisions about how something is managed or done.

Some people get uncomfortable and anxious when things get out of their control. So much so that they don’t mind doing everything in their daily life or business on their own. In this episode, host John Laurito talks about the concept of control and the elements that could be affected when you’re trying to give up yours. He also discusses how much control to give up and how it helps your path to progress.

[0:00] Intro

[1:19] When and how to let go of the reigns

[1:59] What is your ultimate goal?

[3:59] Your time commitment will go up (temporarily)

[8:45] How much control do you give up?

[13:42] Things to ponder

[15:06] Outro

John Over the last two decades, I’ve been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good after running companies small and large for the last 20 years. Today, I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name’s John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic. What makes the best leaders so good? Welcome to tomorrow’s leader. All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things leader related to leading yourself and leading others. I’m John Laurito, your host today and every day. 

John So today’s episode is brought to you by a friend of mine, Sage Blakeney, who gave me the idea for this content today, which I thought was a great idea. So you’ve hired an assistant or you’re contemplating hiring an assistant. And there’s lots of stuff that’s going on in your head. There are lots of things that you need to understand to make this work. If you have hired somebody to help you as a leader or business owner, I commend you. I think it’s one of the toughest decisions, especially the first time you do it for anybody because you are certain of the financial commitment, but you are uncertain of the return that you’re going to get on that. 

John So it is a mental obstacle for a lot of business owners, a lot of leaders, especially that first person. So, again, congrats on either getting close to that point or having actually made it to that point of hiring somebody. Most importantly, you got to find the right person. But that’s not what this episode is about. What I’m going to focus on today is really the dilemma that a lot of leaders face when they do bring somebody on in terms of how to get that person really fully integrated in their role. And most importantly is how do you know when and how to let go of the reins and actually give up control? It is such a tough thing. I hear you. I’ve been there. 

John I know what it’s like. It is mentally a big struggle. But I will tell you if you do it and you do it the right way, it will bring rewards after rewards, after rewards, after rewards. It is an absolute game-changer not only for your business but for your life. So let me just start with one of the most important questions that you have to be able to ask when you’re making this decision on bringing somebody on board. And that is what is your ultimate goal and what’s the reason that you’re bringing somebody aboard? And I’ll give you some examples because there’s no necessarily right or wrong answer on this. The only wrong answer is if you don’t have an answer. 

John So you have to know clearly what is your objective. One could be that you are looking to take some work off your plate. You’re overloaded and you want to pull back a little bit in terms of your time commitment. Hey, I want to bring somebody on so I’m not working 80 hours a week. Got it. OK, that’s one objective. Another might be you’re very much interested in being in growth mode. You’re in growth mode. You want to increase maybe even double your business or triple your business. And you look at this person as a long-term solution in being able to help you get the growth that you want. That’s certainly one big thing. And the way to do that is you have this person taking off your plate, some of the lower value items that then free you up to do more and spend more time on the higher value items. 

John So that’s a really key objective with that. Another one might be, you know, there might be some quality issues in your business, maybe there are some service issues and you feel like things are slipping through the cracks or some gaps in what you’re delivering to your customers or to your clients. And this person coming aboard has the objective of really improving the service and the quality of what you’re doing. That’s absolutely an objective, too. So I can go on and on. There are all kinds of reasons to bring somebody in. I think most people fall in that second category. They say, you know what, I really feel like if I bring somebody in and bring the right person in and give them the right stuff, that my business can significantly grow, can grow certainly a lot faster than it has. 

John And again, congrats on being at that point, because this is a very important step in your journey to being able to do that. So let’s talk about some of the stuff that you have to be aware of when this is you and you’re in the situation where you have to realize is even though this is a smart long-term decision, it may not feel like it is short term. In other words, you might get into this a little bit and feel like, oh, jeez, what did I do? I just this is not what I had in mind. And I’ll tell you the reasons why this happens, because when you bring somebody aboard, what you have to realize is your time commitment, which may be the very reason you’re bringing somebody on board. 

John Hey, I got too much on my plate right now. Your time commitment when you bring somebody on board does not go down initially. It does not stay where it is. It actually goes up temporarily. But you have to realize for you to effectively transfer some roles and responsibilities to that person that’s going to take an investment of your time. So many people get a little bit disillusioned when they first bring somebody on because they say, wow, this is not what I really thought it was going to be because I’m having to train this person. Yeah, you are. But you’re not going to have to do that long-term, at least not to that extent. But that early investment over that short period of time is going to pay off dividends, but you have to go in expecting that’s going to be the case. So no one is your time. 

John Your output is going to go up to your time commitment, rather, and your capacity to tip because of that, your capacity to take on more stuff is actually going to go down. You brought this person on to free up your time to spend time doing more of the key activities that you want to do. And it’s actually initially the opposite. You’re getting drawn into the weeds because you’re having to show this person how to do the things that you’re expecting them to do. Hey, guess what? That’s a part of this process and that’s OK. But it’s temporary. Just realize that once you get through that phase, then what happens is your time commitment goes down as this person starts doing their job, doing what you brought them here to do, and now your capacity is freed up. 

John Now you’re starting to have that ability to focus on the higher-end stuff, and that’s where your business will start growing. So I see a lot of leaders that three months in there saying, jeez, I’m not seeing the growth in my business yet. That’s OK. You’re not going to that fast. It’s going to take a little bit of time. But that first few months are going to be getting that person doing the right key activities, not just doing it, but doing it well and freeing up not only your physical capacity but your mental capacity. Think about this is only so much room we have up in our brains to remember stuff. So when you are that solo partner, that leader that’s just got so much coming on your plate, there’s so much that’s up here that it prevents you from creating the space to think about new ideas and the vision and direction and strategic moves. And that’s the purpose of this, to help free up not only the physical space but also the mental space, too. 

John So once we have that, here’s what you have to realize. So going into this now, again, I’m going to become and think about some of my past podcasts where I talked about that, the concept early on, when you take on a new task, you are an enthusiastic beginner. So you might be an enthusiastic beginner right now as it relates to bringing somebody on and hiring somebody. You’re your motivation is high. You’re excited. You’re really excited about doing this. But you very quickly may become a disillusioned learner when you start to realize you’re investing a lot of time and your capacity is lower, you might get frustrated. That’s OK. Just move through it, because on the opposite side, on the opposite end of that, you become a capable but cautious performer relative to being somebody who has a staff person working for them that’s helping them drive the business. 

John And then ultimately you’ll become a self-reliant achiever. So just keep moving through that, you know, slightly frustrating or demotivating period of time. There is a bright light on the other end of that. So a couple of things you have to think about. One is there maybe and it’s OK problems as you’re bringing somebody on, they may make mistakes. That’s part of this. They’re going to try a whole bunch of new tasks. And part of your leadership needs to be demonstrating and showing them exactly what’s expected and how to do a certain task and to the level that you want it to get done. But then it’s also going to be, of course, correcting as you see them do it. Maybe they’re running a certain process in your business. And you may realize there are some things that they’re not doing right. That’s OK. There might drop a ball or something might go wrong, in which case that’s you’re going to be your opportunity to provide the leadership and course correct and help them get back on track. 

John But the big question I get a lot of times is, OK, well, you know, how do I know what to give them and how much control to give them? And where does my control do I totally relinquish control and not even worry about it, not even look at what they’re doing? Do I stay somewhat involved and how involved do I stay? That is a great question. A great question. And I’m going to be part of that answer is it depends. I hate to give that answer, but it does depend a little bit on the person and their qualities and their skill sets, and their capabilities. It depends on what they’re actually doing for you. But the other part of that is I’m going to relate it to if you had somebody helping you, let’s say watch your kids for a period of time. We’ve many of us with kids. At some point, you have a babysitter that might just be for a few hours. 

John Sometimes you might have somebody with your kids for daycare. Some of you may have the more extended, more full-time type of support and help raise your kids or take care of your kids. That if you think about this in the sense of if you had somebody watching your kids for an extended period of time, there are certain things that you would want them to do and not necessarily need to check with you first. So, in other words, if you had somebody watching your kids for a couple of weeks while you went. Out of the country on a trip or something, you wouldn’t necessarily want to get a phone call or a text message every time there was mealtime to check. Hey, is it OK if I’m feeding them this or, hey, they want to watch this on TV? Is that OK? Now, I would drive you nuts. So you want to give a certain amount of decision-making ability to that person for things that don’t really they’re not really critical to the overall mission, whether the kid has, you know, oatmeal or pancakes or something. 

John Yeah, you might want them to have a certain type of meal, but it’s not the end of the world. If they are making a decision, it’s the wrong decision. You can always course correct. There are other things, though, that you would not want them to make a decision on. I would not want the person who’s watching my kids for two weeks to decide that the kid needs a new phone. And let’s go sign up for a plan at Verizon, a new cell phone. I wouldn’t want that. I wouldn’t want them to make any health decisions. If my child was sick or injured, I would definitely want to know. 

John So there are certain things that I would tell them, hey, if this were to happen or that or you need to make a decision on this, that’s something that you need to run by me and ask me for. So I’m just being clear. So if I’m a leader bringing in an assistant, I’m going to say this right here. That’s all you have the ability. And once you get up and running to make the decisions on this, you do not need to check with me first. These other things, this, this, and this, you need to check with me first. Now, eventually, I may just put that entirely in your hands. But in reality, this is where you’re going to own the decisions and this is where you’re going to run the systems. 

John But I’m going to make the decisions. And as long as you’re clear with that going in, that’s perfect. That’s a recipe for success. Now, I’ve seen leaders that relinquish control, and then they’re not involved at all. At that point. I look at this and say the best leaders that I’ve seen are ones that are they’re plugged into the sense where they have somebody else that’s doing the key activities that they brought that person on to do. But they’re staying close to the progress. So they’re getting progress updates. I think leaders that don’t get updates on projects or things that that person is doing, you’re missing the boat. There’s no accountability. There’s no ability to lead that person. 

John There’s no performance management. There’s no feedback, there’s nothing. So you’re almost turning a blind eye to what they’re doing. That’s not the answer. You may have a phenomenal person and you feel like you can do that. That’s great. But you’re just not going to get the most out of that person and ultimately you’re not going to develop them the right way. So I want to set it up. So I’m getting regular updates that could be in a written form. It could be in a one-on-one. And I’m talking it through with that person. It could be daily, whatever it is. But, hey, these are the three things I want you to update me on each week or each day or each month, whatever, and let me know what’s happening with that. I want to know, are there problems? I don’t want surprises. So if there’s something that’s not going well, I don’t just want to hear the good stuff. 

John I want to hear if there’s not something that’s not going well. I want to understand it so we can talk about it and fix it proactively, not reactively. And again, as long as they know what decisions they own and they can make without my involvement and they know which ones I need to be involved in. And part of that meeting is going to be, hey, here are the things we need to make some decisions on and I need your advice and your guidance. So just a couple of quick thoughts on that. I mean, this is a great again, a great time as a business owner or leader to be at that point. We were bringing somebody into your business. It is a very smart investment. I always think if my average and I’ve worked with leaders on this and we figure out, OK, what’s your average hourly rate? 

John And if your average hourly rate is one hundred and fifty bucks an hour based on what you made last year and divide it by 12 hours or whatever it is that you work last year, if your average hourly rate is one hundred and fifty bucks and you want to get it to two hundred and fifty dollars, you’re not going to do it by doing those fifty dollars or thirty dollars an hour task. You’re just not going to do it. You have to get somebody in who’s going to do that. And that way it enables you to spend more time at the two hundred to fifty-three hundred dollars an hour task level. 

John That’s the key. It’s almost the math equation in reality. That’s what it turns out to be. So I hope this was helpful. Sage, once again, thanks for the idea. Lots of stuff to talk about on this topic. I will continue this conversation, this topic, and other episodes, and we’ll dive deeper in certain areas. But hope that gave you some things to think about. Some ideas, some thoughts, some things you can run with. As always, I always appreciate your ideas and your thoughts. And, of course, you sharing and commenting and liking these episodes as well. 

John Go down below, give a five-star review and until next time, enjoy. Stay safe and talk to you soon. Thanks. Bye. Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader for suggestions or inquiries about having me at your next event or personal coaching, reach me at John@johnlaurito.com Once again, that’s John@johnlaurito.com. Thanks, Lead on!

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