Learning to Delegate: It’s a Skill


I used to be bad at delegating. In college, I was always the leader of group projects. I wanted an A on every project and wouldn’t accept anything less. I couldn’t let the fate of my grade be decided by others who I deemed less competent or hard working. When things didn’t get done, I would do them myself. I lived the old saying, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” I got my desired result (I graduated with perfect grades), but I came out of college somewhat distrusting of others’ ability to get things done in the workplace.

Fast forward to almost 6 years into my career as a technical writer. Freedom Cry, the non-profit I volunteer for, was starting to cast the vision for 2018 and it included creating a lot of project teams, one of which I would be the leader of. As I thought about this much-needed change to our organizational structure, I realized that I would have to face my lack of practice in delegating. Up until this point, I had done almost all the external writing and communication projects myself in addition to internal technical writing and record keeping. I would get projects requested of me and sit alone somewhere pounding on my computer until they were completed. This had to change.

I held my first team meeting and came prepared with a list of assignments. I asked my teammates for a refresher on their skills and how they wanted to contribute. I had heard that a good way to manage people is to tell them what is needed and give them the parameters of the project and the resources needed to complete it before setting them loose. That’s what I did. It worked really well. One of my team members even requested that I don’t demand updates constantly on the work she is doing and just let her get to a point in her project where she is ready to send me a really good first draft. I successfully resisted micro-managing.

I’m not the only one who has struggled with delegating. It’s a skill that requires practice, especially for certain personality types. Last month, I attended a presentation from Dr. Alan Patterson who has more than three decades of international consulting experience in change management, leadership development, and executive coaching and has worked with a lot of major household name companies. One of his comments really stuck with me. He said Achiever personality types (of which according to the CliftonStrength Finders test, I am one) really struggle with delegation because they focus on going deep technically within their profession and getting so good at the details that they don’t trust someone else to do the work. He said when these people are given managerial or leadership roles, they often struggle to take their hands off of the details of projects and invest in coaching others. I immediately thought of myself and the transition I’m slowly making to a more managerial type role within Freedom Cry and the excellent growing experience it has been for me.

Do you also struggle with delegation? What experiences can you give yourself to help you grow in this area?

Corporate Giving and Non-Profit Fundraising: Two Perspectives


Recently I’ve had the opportunity to view charitable giving from two different perspectives, the side of the giver and the side of the receiver. I am serving on the Charitable Giving Committee at work this year and lately, the board of Freedom Cry has been discussing fundraising, so I have gained insight into the act of charitable giving from both sides of the transaction. It has been interesting to understand the motivations of both sides.


Non-profits need funding now or yesterday so they can get on with their singular mission. They simply want to be able to provide the services they promise. They need to effectively communicate their mission and success stories and data so that people will be struck with compassion for the suffering of others and motivated to give. They need to prove why their work is valuable.

Corporations want to give back because it’s the right thing to do, yes, but also because it makes them look good and helps them engage and thus retain talented employees which helps their bottom line. After all, for-profit companies are, well, for-profit. Employees want to work for a company that makes them feel good, that provides them with opportunities to be involved in the community or give back. People want to purchase goods and services from companies that they feel are good for society.


We see examples all the time in the news of companies losing stock because they are perceived as bad for society. The very recent Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal is an example of that. After it came out that information about Facebook’s users got into the hands of Cambridge Analytica and was used to manipulate their political leanings in the recent presidential election, Facebook’s stock plummeted and some users (including some of my friends) declared they were getting rid of Facebook forever. Facebook doesn’t want to be perceived as contributing to the weakening of American democracy. Companies give back to non-profits and charities in order to be held in high esteem in the public eye and considered trustworthy.


What does this mean for companies providing funding and non-profits looking to get funding? It means to be successful we need to understand each other’s motives and goals before we start writing grant applications or looking for worthy non-profits. It’s been very helpful to me to see things from both sides of the equation, because it furthers the goals both of my workplace and my non-profit.

Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce Focal Point Panel Discussion


I was invited to attend a focal point panel discussion at the Sheboygan Chamber of Commerce with the four other Sheboygan County Athena Award finalists of 2017 to discuss our thoughts on leadership and mentoring. There were heartfelt stories, tears, tips, and comradery as we gave our audience glimpses into our varied experiences.

One of the honored women was a theater major with an entrepreneurial spirit fostered by a desire to help her young son with his learning disability through playing board games. She created her own unique board game rental business. Another honoree was a lawyer who dreamed of being an FBI agent until circumstances got in her way. Another was a school district superintendent who dared to believe in programs for her kids that would have been cut otherwise. The woman sitting next to me was the HR director for Sargento Foods. She requires that her employees have fun at work, and if they aren’t having fun, she asks them to leave for the day. I was captured by how different our life experiences were, and how we each act as mentors and leaders in our own unique ways.

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Getting Curious about Complaints: Interdepartmental Communication to Solve Problems


Complaining at work is usually a negative and potentially annoying way to communicate with coworkers. We usually do it because we need to create a catharsis by blowing off steam or we want to bond with a coworker over our difficulties. However, if examined correctly, complaints can reveal opportunities for improvement that we may not have recognized before. We also may not realize that the coworker we are talking to could actually help effect the solution. This is why interdepartmental communication is so essential.

How do we examine complaints correctly? I found myself in this situation recently. A coworker and friend from a different department came to me complaining. Normally I just nod, listen, and provide verbal affirmation of how terrible it is, but this time I realized that I could potentially help. Without telling her what I was doing, I began to ask her open-ended questions to drill down to the root of the problem. I wanted to help her see how she could take action to change the issue and how I could help. By the end of the conversation, we had determined that the problem could be solved with improved documentation and training and also by further building customers’ overall trust in our expertise as a company. The second solution would need to be addressed by multiple departments and would take time. The first solution was one I could act on immediately since I am on the technical documentation and training team. I offered to add a statement to the appropriate documentation and ask our training coordinator to address the issue with future customers and train them on how to solve it. We left the conversation with next steps for her to get more specific information for me to add to the documentation.

I could tell she was encouraged that we had left the conversation with steps forward to a solution rather than just a bonding experience. None of this would have happened if I had not begun to actively listen for the opportunity for improvement and began to steer the conversation in the direction of identifying the real problem and ways to solve it. I was curious, so I used the effective model of asking “Why?” until the real problem was uncovered. Getting curious about complaints can lead to more effective interdepartmental communication and problem solving.

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