Professional Relationship

How do I trust my Co-Founder again after he drops the ball on an important meeting?

Occasionally my readers will send me requests for topics they would like to see me write about on my blog. The following is a question from a reader.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Photo Credit: Pexels

Dear Tara, 

My company is going through a rapid growth phase and I had to delegate an important meeting to my because I couldn’t be in two places at the same time. The meeting was with a big client and it was a relationship I had been working on for a long time. I feel like my Co-Founder/COO knew how important it was for the company that this meeting go well so I was extremely disappointed and angry when I got out of my meeting and found a voicemail from the client asking me if everything was okay because my COO missed the meeting. I was able to reschedule the meeting, but now I feel like I have to do everything myself if I want it to be done correctly. How can I trust my second in command to handle situations like this in the future as the company continues to grow?

Growing Pains


Dear Growing,

It is such an exciting time in your business knowing that you are about to reach a new level. You would not have gotten this far if you didn’t have a dedicated team of people working together to push the company forward. It is normal to feel like there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on your “to do” list, so please take a moment to acknowledge yourself for finding solutions through delegation.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20 so you can look back and say things like, “I should have never trusted him to take the meeting for me.” Instead of shaming yourself for not doing everything yourself, try asking yourself “How can I close the communication loop on important tasks I delegate to others in the future?” because chances are you are going to have to delegate things to other people more and more as your business grows.

While you can’t change how you reacted to this situation, you can learn from it moving forward.

First, recognize that you both had the best intentions. Your COO intended to take the meeting and make it a success. At the same time, maybe you intended to let him take on a bigger role so he could grow with you and the company.

Second, think about what you really want to accomplish. I don’t think you want to belittle him or make him feel bad for dropping the ball. What you want is for him to take ownership of the company the way you do. The company is your baby and you would stop a moving train to protect it. You want everyone in your company to be that passionate about your baby.

So, how do you do that?

You are on the right track with wanting to delegate things and while delegation came from a place of necessity this time because you are overwhelmed, in the future it can come from a place of allowing other employees to feel accountable for the success of the company.

Here are some steps you can take in the future to ensure that tasks are delegated successfully:

1.     Understand your priorities and communicate them consistently. This meeting was extremely important to you and it won’t be the first or the last time you have to delegate something that is critical to the development of the business. One way you can communicate this is by color coding a shared calendar. For example, you can put high priority tasks in red, secondary priority tasks in yellow, and lower priority tasks in green. Another way to communicate priorities in writing could be in the e-mail subject line. P1 could mean top priority, P2 secondary priority, and P3 low priority. Find a system that works for your organization.

2.     Once you establish the various levels of priority, define what each of them means. How quickly do you expect a top priority task to be completed? Which employees within the organization is it appropriate to delegate a top priority task to? How will you close the loop of communication? For low priority tasks it may be appropriate to close the loop by sending an email that says, “Done.” For high priority tasks you may want to schedule a meeting on your calendar to debrief right after the task is set to be completed.

3.     Be open to teaching. Most skills can be learned, so don’t be afraid to delegate something to someone who may have never done the task before. Be sure you take the time to ask them if they understand how to perform the task, give them the opportunity to ask questions, and ensure they understood what you were asking them to do by having them teach it back to you before you perform it.

4.     Check-in with the person you’ve delegated the task to. In this situation, you delegated a high priority task. The morning of the meeting it would have been appropriate to check in with your COO and ensure that he was prepared for the meeting. In other situations you may want to check-in periodically to make sure the tasks that have been delegated are moving forward. The key to checking in is to avoid stepping in to tell your employees how to perform the task. Trust them to execute it.

5.     Close the loop. Be sure you have a system and structure for how you will execute #2. During this time it is also appropriate to ask your employee what he or she thought went really well and what the opportunities for improvement are.

want more tips on how to have difficult conversations?

How to Network at an Event Without Feeling Drained of Your Energy

Here are 6 easy things introverts can immediately start doing to improve their experience at events.

Photo by: Phillip Van Nostrand

Photo by: Phillip Van Nostrand

How many times have you been invited to an event and the big day arrives, but a couple hours before it begins you find yourself dreading it?

You start thinking of all of the reasons why you can’t make it.

You wonder if anyone will notice if you don’t show up.

You wonder if you'll have anything in common with the people you are about to spend a few hours with.

You decide to go because you worry you feel like you have to make an appearance.

In the past, you may have found yourself experiencing the following:

  • Standing on the edges of the room by yourself wondering how soon after arriving is too early to depart;
  • Avoiding making eye contact with anyone because you don’t know what to talk about; or
  • Looking at your phone so nobody wonders why you’re standing off to the side of the room by yourself.

And if you do get brave and decide to walk up to a group of people who looks friendly, you find yourself in one of two situations. The first involves you standing there smiling and nodding. The second occurs when they turn to you and someone asks you a question. This one question can send you into sharing a story that goes on for so long that you even get tired of the sound of your own voice. This is the opposite of what you wanted but your fear of awkward silence has suddenly made you the center of attention.

You leave the event feeling exhausted and drained after meeting a number of people who you aren’t even sure if you should follow up with because you don’t feel like it was a positive experience. You even swear off events forever on your way home and write them off as a waste of time and energy. You also consider the possibility of not leaving your home for the next 5 days so you can recharge.

Here are 6 things you can start doing immediately to make yourself magnetic (and dare I say energized) while attending events:

  1. Set an intention before the event. Ask yourself: what would make this event great? Would it be meeting someone from a particular industry? Or introducing yourself to someone whose work you admire? Whatever it is, have that in mind before you arrive so you know exactly what you need to do to make the event a success.
  2. Be curious about other people and go into the event thinking that no matter who you meet they have something to teach you. When you approach people from a place of curiosity rather than a place of anxiety, you will intuitively know which questions to ask them to keep the conversation flowing naturally.
  3. Prepare a list of 4 questions you can ask anyone you meet no matter who they are and memorize them so you always have something to say. I like to start with, “What is something you are really excited about right now?” This question automatically stands out because typically the first question people ask at events is, "What do you do?"
  4. Network ‘outside of the box’. Try going to events where you won’t meet anyone from your current industry to practice getting comfortable around groups of people. This does 2 things. It prevents you from only speaking to people you know and it makes people curious about you. For instance, if you’re at an event in the finance industry and your occupation is in healthcare then people are going to naturally wonder why you are there. You won’t have to worry what to say because they will be asking you thoughtful questions. The group will naturally want to make you feel comfortable and welcome in this situation because most people would consider what you are doing really brave. As a result, the conversations will be geared towards topics that they think you would feel comfortable talking about.
  5. Be helpful. If you see someone standing on the outskirts of the room, looking down, who is alone, walk over to him or her and smile and introduce yourself. Chances are they will be relieved you said, "Hello." You can even break the ice by mentioning that you don’t know anyone there and ask how that person heard about the event to get the conversation started. It is likely you will have a lot in common with that person, because you have stood in his or her shoes in the past.
  6. Be conscientious of your body language. Two of the most important things you can do are smile and don’t cross your arms. If you want to take this a bit further, think about the body language someone displays when they are confident, approachable, and friendly. You can contrast it in your mind with the body language someone might display if they are unapproachable. Adopt the body language of that person you thought of who is confident.

are you exhausted after conferences because you spent all day trying to meet new people in the same industry as you?

Navigating Toxic and Difficult Situations At Work

The Career Passport Podcast Interview with Jill Ozovek
Not Feeling Yourself At Work? A Guide For The New Year | Episode #032

I had the pleasure of speaking with Jill Ozovek on The Career Passport podcast this week about bringing your whole self to work and navigating toxic and difficult situations.

Tara Bradford The Career Podcast Interview.jpg

In this episode we discuss: 

1. What are the short term and long term effects of not ‘bringing your whole self’ to work? What’s the upside to ‘bringing your whole self to work”?

2.     If you like your job, but you don’t like what it’s doing to do you- in other words, you don’t want to quit, how can you navigate the transition back to ‘being you’? What are some concrete steps someone can take?

3.     If the environment is toxic and you’re realizing you need to get out, but know it won’t be an immediate process, how can you stay sane and get back to being ‘you’ while you’re still there?

Plus if you stick around until the end, we get into fun lifestyle & travel tips along with my most recent favorite place to get away to.

Get more info and a listen here: 

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