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February 2011
Ann Latham
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Welcome to the Clear Thoughts™ newsletter from Uncommon Clarity!  If you like what you see here, visit our website, which is loaded with value - over 70 helpful articles, audio seminars and books, free tools and tips, videos, and more.

Today's Clear Thoughts
Uncommon Clarity in Delegating
Short On Patience?
Please! No More Good Ideas!
Ann's Parting Thoughts
Uncommon Clarity in Delegating      

Delegating focuses the right people on the right things. It also helps employees to grow. But it is hard. Why? Three reasons: it involves trust or the lack of it, it creates fear of poor outcomes, and it requires clarity. As a result, we typically resort to one of three approaches: 
  1. "It's easier to do it myself," which neither frees us to do more suitable tasks, nor gives employees the opportunity to grow
  2. "I must learn to delegate so here goes," and then we throw the task over the wall with gritted teeth, crossed fingers, and little faith
  3. We delegate and micromanage, driving everyone nuts

All of these approaches are unproductive, ridiculous, and unnecessary. To delegate more easily and effectively:

  1. Get clear about your desired results and any important limitations or requirements. It will be easier to do it yourself if you don't know what you are asking! 
  2. Focus on matching capabilities to task rather than "measuring" the individual to decide if he is "good enough." If you think about brain power and integrity, it gets uncomfortable. If you try to match knowledge, experience, and skill with a specific task or responsibility, it becomes a rational discussion.
  3. Separate expected results from expected methods. The former must be clear; the latter may be irrelevant.
  4. Consider the decisions involved in the task. Does the employee need help establishing the decision criteria - the objectives, priorities, and limitations? This knowledge seems basic to managers but is rarely well-communicated to employees.
  5. If the task requires significant judgment, delegate only to someone who is fully aware of the decision criteria, the possible alternatives, and the inherent risks of each. If you would be "making it up as you go," you need to delegate to someone with at least your level of understanding of the context in which decisions will be made AND a more suitable skill set. 
  6. Talk to the employee about the process he will follow and where in that process it makes sense to get input or feedback from you or others.
  7. Adopt a collaborative attitude so the employee sees getting help as a smart decision not as a sign of failure.
  8. Acknowledge, discuss, and manage risks openly. No one grows without risking failure. Create an environment that is prudent but forgiving.  
Unsure how to implement any of these suggestions to maximize your potential and that of your employees? We can help. Contact us at today.

Short On Patience?  

The cause of impatience is a lack of progress. Here are three tips for improving your patience before you drive yourself and the other person crazy!
  1. Remind yourself that the other person is not you and most of what you think you know about that person is an assumption. Skill, knowledge, and attitude are invisible, so any conclusions you draw about those are suspect. Pay attention only to observable behavior and its consequences. 
  2. Focus on the other person's needs. What don't they know or understand? Where are the obstacles? Work with him to remove the barriers.
  3. Break desired outcomes into intermediate outcomes - concrete next steps. Both of you will feel better when you can see real progress.
Would you like help developing your employees so they become more valuable and more productive while you become less stressed? Call 800-527-0087 today.

 Please! No More Good Ideas!                               

There are a million ways to improve our businesses and our lives.

Ideas float in the window, arrive via email, pop into conversation, pile up in droves when we read, appear as "suggestions" from the boss, and are promoted by colleagues, friends, customers, suppliers, and more.

But we can't do them all!

If you run with every exciting new idea, you will drive yourself crazy and get nowhere of significance. The answer is not to block out new ideas and information. Listening, learning, imagining, evolving, and, occasionally, leaping, are important. The trick is to filter these inputs quickly so you can:
  • Retain the focus that is critical to progress
  • Take advantage of the right opportunities - the ideas that will speed your progress
  • Know when to change your plans entirely
  • Feel excited about the possibilities
To protect yourself from being distracted by too many ideas, new approaches, or knowledge, there are only three critical questions to ask:
  1. Does this new idea, approach or knowledge invalidate our assumptions or fundamentally change our current direction?
    • If your current direction and objectives are still smart, don't let an exciting idea derail your progress.
  2. Does this new idea, approach or knowledge provide an alternative method for achieving existing goals?
    • If so, why not take the easier path? Just be sure it will actually get you there faster, dramatically reduce your costs, and/or improve results in a meaningful way. 
  3. Is this idea the greatest thing since sliced bread even though you can't make use of it right now?
    • Most good ideas will come around again so don't create an endless and overwhelming future To Do list. Save only the absolute best ideas for future consideration.

"Focus and finish" is the path to success. Be alert to new ideas but use them wisely!


This is the fifth in our series of Uncommon Productivity Boosters that help you take control of your time, feel great about each week, and watch those weeks add up to impressive results. Enjoy the previous tips on our website:

Do you feel like a pin ball being bounced around by ideas and news of the economy or your competition? Give us a call at 800-527-0087. Let us help you establish a strong, clear direction. 

Ann's Parting Thoughts - Where's the Nearest Exit?

Don't start a meeting without knowing what needs to be different at its conclusion! 

Best regards,

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Ann Latham

* Creating the Clarity that Speeds and Improves Results *

2011 Ann Latham. All rights reserved.