You asked your salesperson to make a minimum of 65 calls per day, but she made 40. Your fulfillment team was supposed to be able to handle 72 orders yesterday, but the shipping log shows only 60 left. You asked your accountant to close the books for the month by the 31st, but on the 8th of the month following, she says she is still working on it. Why the disconnect between what we, as owners, think should be accomplished in a given time and what our employees actually complete on time?  It all starts with one problem: when we delegate before doing a task ourselves.  The result isn't just frustration on the part of management, but also the fundamental discouraging of our employees. So how can we avoid it? 

Never ask someone to do something you haven't done yourself.  When I assign a list of calls to be made to my sales team, I make the first 10-20 calls myself.  It lets me fully understand the speed bumps ahead. What percentage of the phone numbers are good? How much time does researching the customer's business before I dial take? Can I get the right person on the phone? Is our CRM easy to use to record my outreach? When I do the test calls first, I know exactly what's reasonable to expect of my employee, and can make an ask that she should be able to meet. She, in turn, knows that I have walked a mile in her shoes--and that what I request should be done with no room for excuses. 

Sit with your employee when she starts a new task.  I know how long it takes to make the calls I assigned because I did them myself, but the next step is making sure that my employee does them in the same way I did.  For example, an employee researching a customer may spend 10 minutes poking around the customer's facebook page, when I was able to get the essential in 5 minutes.  If I take 30 minutes to walk the employee through the exact steps to successfully do what I have asked in the same amount of time I can, then I am assured that my employee has all the necessary tools to deliver, and won't waste her time trying to figure out her own method - which doesn't mean she cannot add her own input to make it even more efficient.

Create clear checkpoints. As an owner, I often want to "set it and forget it", figuring that if I explained well-enough to begin with, accomplishing the assigned tasks should be straightforward. Alas, this is never the case.  As a manager, it is my job to set up specific objectives for my employee, and then to check in at the preordained moments to assess the progress of my employee.  So when I go back through our call logs and check to see that an employee has made the number of calls I asked for, or I listen to make sure she is giving the customer what he needs on a given call in the way I have asked for it to be given, it is not micromanaging--it is showing my employee that I care. I am paying attention to what she does, and how she does it, and it is important enough to me that I am willing to take time out of my day to offer her guidance, insight, or just cheer her on.  It reminds her that I have not foisted off a to-do list on her alone, but that we are in this together. 

These steps are simple, but the difference they make in connecting the dots between management and employees is huge.  Employees want to know that what they do matters--and by showing them that we, as owners and managers, are willing and able to do the same work we ask of them, they are by far more genuinely motivated to really meet expectations.