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Delegating success Featured

11:22am EDT July 29, 2006
Angelain Loggins attributes much of her success at TBL Professional Services to smart delegation.

“This is a relationship business,” says Loggins, the company’s owner. “Customers will remain loyal if they know you can solve their problems. Managers who are willing to concede control and get serious about developing their employees end up reaping great rewards.”

Her track record speaks for itself. After serving for several years as a Fortune 100 company manager, Loggins started her own contracting business for engineers and technicians in 1991. Since then, the company has morphed into a full-service staffing operation.

Loggins has never regretted her decision to become an entrepreneur, working long hours for herself instead of for someone else. At her previous job, “We typically worked seven days a week for 18 hours a day,” Loggins says. “Looking back, I think I was burned out, but when you are young and ambitious, you don’t always realize these things.”

Smart Business spoke with Loggins’ about how she keeps employees motivated and customers satisfied.

What traits are most important in a strong leader?
To run a strong and vibrant company, leaders need to focus on the following.

  • Survival. I take it seriously that my employees depend on me for their livelihood. One employee recently told me that when I go on vacation, he checks the schedule to make sure I am coming back.

Although he was joking, the message is one I take to heart — I cannot let my employees down.

  • Success. Enjoying success along the way keeps you going, brings money in the door and fortifies you during the times when things are not going so well. It is important to recognize and celebrate all successes.

  • Succession. I have to look at the future and grapple with difficult questions, such as who will take over operations of the company, and how will I groom the next line of leadership?

What lessons have you learned the hard way?
Bad employees can corrupt good ones. I had a strong management team with top-notch credentials. Everyone was getting along well until I hired a couple of people, and some negative dynamics began.

One person was after another’s job and began undermining the person to his manager. As a result, I not only had to get rid of the person doing the undermining but also lost a good employee who fell into his trap of manipulation.

What do I do differently now? I do not make the assumption that new hires will come in and automatically conform to our culture of respect and trust. They can disrupt it, and the damage can take many years to repair.

I have seen unbridled ambition destroy relationships and crumble the culture of companies, so my advice would be to be careful when hiring and astute to signs of trouble after new employees come on board.

How do you train employees?
It is foolish and short-sighted to cut costs in this area. Many managers make the mistake of thinking that as long as they personally have the knowledge, that is sufficient. They forget that employees get bored if they are not challenged and exposed to new learning experiences.

The other downside to neglecting training is that it prevents delegation of day-to-day items so that you can become more of a strategic leader. Managers who hoard knowledge end up limiting their own potential.

All employees are sent to outside training. That is why I am able to delegate and provide challenging jobs. I give them the tools they need and then trust them to use their knowledge appropriately.

How do you maintain communication with employees?
We hold weekly staff meetings. I let everyone know what projects we are currently working on, new ones coming up and those we are prospecting. Each person has the opportunity to speak up.

Most problems are addressed and solved during these meetings, so they are certainly worth the time and effort. We have initiated many changes that streamlined and strengthened our organization as a result of these communication sessions.

How do you keep employees motivated?
I believe the efforts that I make to delegate greatly impact the motivation levels of my employees. I make it a point to invite them to dinners, networking events and trade shows, where they can meet the clients and develop a relationship with them.

Employees will become resentful and will not accept delegated responsibility if they are not motivated. Customer contact makes them feel they are as important as I am to the customer.

How to reach: TBL Professional Services, (248) 647-1151 or www.tblservices.com