Think back to the first day at your current job and the onboarding you received. Chances are good that your team does things a little differently now.
As businesses grow and scale, processes, procedures, and overall action plans start to change. The more hands on deck and the more brainpower the organization has, the more responsibilities shift.
When responsibilities start to move around, employees need to be able to let go; in other words, they need to give away their Legos.
- What does giving away your Legos mean?
- The importance of giving away your Legos
- How to effectively give away your Legos
What does giving away your Legos mean?
The concept of giving away your Legos originated from Molly Graham, who has worked at Google, Facebook, and Quip. This concept centers around the idea of how smaller companies, or startups, can scale effectively.
It starts with a smaller team, where everyone has a ton of Legos to work with—which is exciting! There’s so much to do and build, and everyone has tons of Legos to use as a resource. But then, when the company begins to hire new employees and new team members show up without Legos to use, existing employees have to, you guessed it, give away their Legos.
For the company to scale and grow, the Legos must be shared with the new members, which can sometimes come with excitement, anxiety, and nervousness. Ultimately, everyone has to help one another and share their resources, knowledge, and expertise.
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The importance of giving away your Legos
Giving away your Legos is an extremely important concept everyone on the team should master. The importance is different for managers and employees—let’s break it down!
1For the manager
It can be challenging for managers to see the benefits of delegating tasks, which is how they can give away their Legos to their own team. In reality, doing so gives them more time for other tasks, different priorities, and leadership meetings. Having this additional time to focus on making more of an impact and help the company grow and scale the right way is a better use of their workday, which can only be done when they have fewer Legos to juggle.
Additionally, a manager needs to practice their own management skills, avoid micromanaging, and take back tasks and add to their to-do lists. Delegating can be difficult at first, especially for new managers or those at startups, since they may be delegating something they helped build from the ground up and they may be nervous about letting go. It’s normal to want to see a task through to the end, but sometimes this isn’t the best use of a manager’s time.
And finally, giving away Legos can help a manager build stronger relationships with their team. When a manager gives their direct reports new tasks, it shows they trust their team to do the tasks right and complete them with minimal assistance. This delegation can also help a manager pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of each member of their team, which is helpful information as new projects or initiatives come up and need to be distributed amongst the team.
2For the employee
Giving away Legos is also an essential concept for employees to master, too.
For starters, giving away Legos can lead to growth opportunities. When employees are given new and exciting tasks to work on, they can expand their skill sets and grow in their current roles. Additionally, mastering the art of giving away Legos can make employees comfortable with being uncomfortable, since this practice often leads to learning something new.
If an employee is never given a chance to work on a new project, initiative, or brainstorming session, they may feel siloed or stuck in their role and could even start looking for a new position elsewhere.
Finally, this concept also leads to building trust with their manager. When an employee excels at a new task and shows their manager that they’re reliable, responsible, and hard-working, everybody wins. Plus, giving away Legos can help an employee stave off the feeling of imposter syndrome.
How to effectively give away your Legos
When looking to give away your Legos, there are certain steps you can take to do so effectively. Follow these seven tips to calm any sense of anxiety or nervousness along the way!
- Validate your feelings of change
- Understand that giving Legos away doesn’t translate to less work
- Get comfortable with delegation
- Give your Legos to the right person
- Find a new Lego tower to focus your energy on
- Perfect your current tasks
- Embrace the idea that change is good
1Validate your feelings of change
There’s no denying that change can be hard to process. People get comfortable in their roles and with the responsibilities they know they can master and excel at; this is especially true when working for a startup or a small company where things change seemingly in a blink of an eye.
Once you validate your feelings about change, do your best to think of growing, scaling, and giving away your Legos as an opportunity to try your hand at several different responsibilities, which can be fun with the right mindset!
2Understand that giving Legos away doesn’t translate to less work
People sometimes associate the concept of giving away Legos with having less work on your plate, but that isn’t the case.
Instead of thinking about this shift as having less work, reframe the concept with having different work. The act of handing over products, code, programs, or projects that you’re working on to other people, and trusting them to care about getting the job done right, means you can focus on redefining your job and the content of your work.
3Get comfortable with delegation
To effectively give away your Legos, you have to get comfortable with delegation. Think of every new hire your company gains as you getting additional help for the projects you’ve been working on. With every new person to whom you give your Legos, they bring their own unique skill set, ideas, and potential to make the project even better.
Dave Bailey said it best on episode 65 of our SuperManagers podcast:
as a general rule of thumb, if you want to empower your team to solve their problems, you want to delegate problems back to them. If you can do that over a period of time, then you can start to empower your team and allow them to build the skills they need.
Keep this advice in mind as you get comfortable with delegation and do it more often.
4Give your Legos to the right person
Not every new employee your company hires will be the right person for every job. Before handing your Legos off to someone, make sure they feel supported to take on the work. It may take additional resources, onboarding, or training for them to feel ready to accomplish these new tasks to the best of their ability.
Consider what Cristina Georgoulakis, Founder Outcomes Partner at 776, had to say during episode 105 of the SuperManagers podcast:
At some point, you’re going to get something you’ve never done before because I’m going to hopefully be passing off my Legos to you as we grow. And the minute that high performer is given a task that they can’t execute well and are not supported well, they start feeling their confidence drop, something happens in their workflow. And that’s why it’s so important to just not assume that people can handle and tackle everything at the same level that they execute their tasks.
It’s important to remember that even the high performers and go-getters may need additional training, especially if the Legos you’re giving away are something they’ve never done before in their role.
5Find a new Lego tower to focus your energy on
The more Legos you give away, the more room you have to find new Legos to focus your attention on. Once you find a new Lego tower that needs building, you’ll be able to hone in on the skills you have to scale this tower to new heights! Remember, hiring new talent for the company doesn’t mean there’s less work for the people already there; it means the entire company can do more, and there’s likely always going to be a new tower that needs building.
6Perfect your current tasks
Once you’ve given away your Legos, take a look at the tasks remaining on your to-do list. Now is the time to hone in on your skills and be the best you can be as you work on your current action items and list of responsibilities. Once you’ve delegated and given yourself more time to build a new tower of Legos, you can perfect your current tasks to be as productive and efficient as possible.
7Embrace the idea that change is good
Finally, to give away your Legos as effectively as possible, you have to embrace the idea that change is a good thing. Without this mindset, a small business will never grow and a startup will remain one forever. To grow and scale as a team, all employees need to be able to accept and embrace the likelihood of change. A business in its first year will always do things differently than a business in its tenth year.
And with that difference in operating come more employees, new strategies, and more brain power.
You can build anything as a team!
Once you learn to give away your Legos, the sky’s the limit for what your organization can accomplish! Giving away your Legos will teach you trust, humility, and appreciation for yourself and the other individuals with whom you work. The easier it is for you to let go, the more you can accomplish together.