Two nights ago I received a text from a stressed out Founder in my portfolio.
...need your support about managing a team through this transition. Lots of new team members, need to step up skills, less time than ever on my calendar, being pulled in new directions. Thoughts on how to organize my time best for more contact w senior folks, how to best get in rhythm, better financial clarity, lots of little things now that I’m bearing more responsibility while simultaneously helping this team w a bunch of new people work well together.
I spoke to the Founder by phone today and in 7 minutes we discussed resolution to these challenges. Here's what I discussed.
There are two things happening here simultaneously. First, there's a lot to do and it's not segmented very well for me to understand what is and is not important. We all invest time into things we don't need to and we all forget, or don't invest time into things that are must haves. So, step one is to segment what's happening.
Second, there's a missing link between someone who wants to be in the details and provide autonomy to senior people. How do you get the best of both worlds?
Step 1: I recommend that weekly check-in to segment what's happening. You can read about this framework by Woven:
Now, for Step 2. When it comes to delegating tasks to people you manage I apply the 10/50/90 framework:
10 - Have the direct report spend 10% of the time to complete the task. This might look like an outline, or a sketch, but it allows you to see if they see the task/project/initiative the same way you do. They should sit with you to get clarification.
50 - Complete half the project and on track to get it done at the agreed upon time. When your direct report hits this point, they should kindly pause and share an update with you. You are busy dealing with additional demands and you may have acquired new information that impacts the project they are working on. Nice to not have done everything and get a status update.
90 - This is the final draft. Deadline is approaching and they should be wrapping it up and turning it in early. There's 10% left so it creates space for you to review and plenty of time to adjust anything last minute
I believe many leaders and managers would do well to spend 30-40 minutes each week segmenting their work and leveraging this 10/50/90 framework so they don't have to be in the weeds all the time and getting frustrated over things that could entirely avoid.
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