22: Moving from Doing to Leading the Work with Natalie Ruhl

22: Moving from Doing to Leading the Work with Natalie Ruhl

Natalie Ruhl and I are members of the control freak club… Find out how she battles her instincts to do the work on behalf of her team.


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Charlotte Ward  0:14  

Hello, and welcome to the customer support leaders podcast. This is session 22. I’m Charlotte Ward. This week we’re talking about moving from doing the work to leading the work. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. Today I’d like to welcome back Natalie Ruhl. Can you tell me like when you transitioned into leadership, how you handled moving away from doing the work to leading the work, by which I mean, perhaps operationally, or perhaps in terms of your mindset and approach, did you step out of the queue quite quickly…?

Natalie Ruhl  0:55  

In my career, I had the progression of… when I started to be a real leader, it kind of happened over over time. So I started as a one-man team, as I think a lot of us have, at one point in their career, I was incredibly lucky that I got to like build it all to a standard in a way that I thought it was going to be scalable and, and help us move forward. And over time I started hiring people, so I quite naturally led that department. But it took me at that in that role, it took me quite a bit to kind of get out of the queue, especially in like onboarding people, and then make it taking them on it’s oftentimes took quite a while to you know, to teach the ins and outs and to also at the same time, try and kind of like make a process out of the onboarding. You know, when you onboard that first person whilst you’re still doing all the work it’s like oftentimes a less structured process. “just shadow me and we’ll, we’ll do it together and then taking a lot of notes that later become documents and things”.  That’s kind of how it happened and hadn’t realised so much like I have started stepping out of the queue at a point. It was a moment of like understanding of like, Oh, hey, yeah, I haven’t been in the queue for like quite a few days now. And it’s fine. And I’m a control freak, I will admit that that’s, that’s absolutely who I am. So, delegating work hasn’t really come super natural to me, I felt for a long time that I was like, you know, quite a structured person and easy to, to talk to. And also, I felt that any kind of thing that I talked about was like incredibly clear and easy to understand and easy to follow. And so you know, people should have just could just do that and then they would come back to me and what I had in mind would be done. Not really how it works, and not really always so clear, not really always made my expectations that clear, it turns out, because what people understand and what you say always two different things. And that’s something that I had to like learn very early on when becoming a leader and stepping out of the queue was like this process, not always second guessing somebody else’s work; trusting someone that they’ve done the work and if they maybe couldn’t do the work more looking at like, seeing like how would you could you empower them to do the work next time. And that’s kind of like how I moved out of the queue. The strategy for that, in hindsight, really, I feel is about building that trust so that it allows me to like be out of the queue and do the other work that needs doing

Charlotte Ward  3:34  

It really is a process, isn’t it? Really.

Natalie Ruhl  3:37  

It still is, it still is… If I  sometimes see things you know that like the team talks about or something that someone has done, but I’m like, that really wasn’t ideal. I will admit that I, whilst I don’t you know, want to barge in. I feel as if like, ah, but I still should prevent the mistake from happening if I see it coming from a mile away. I don’t think I should. But in smaller things, I’ve now rather have a lot of like hindsight conversations where I also ask, was there anything that you felt you were missing? Or was there anything that you felt you needed from me that maybe wasn’t there? Not always do like the things that I think people would have needed. And the thing that they told me that they would have needed correlate that much can be like very, very different things. The ability to have conversations around it, I think that they trust me enough to come to me when they need help.

Charlotte Ward  4:33  

Yeah. And that process of building that trust is it is I mean, I’m with you. I’m a member of the control freak club as well. And I don’t know if you know that about me, but 

Natalie Ruhl  4:46  

I wouldn’t have guessed!

Charlotte Ward  4:48  

The process of building that trust to enable you to move on is as much a process of you letting go as anything else isn’t it? 

Natalie Ruhl  4:57  

Aww, it’s my least favourite words, letting go. 

Charlotte Ward  5:00  

I know, I know, 

Natalie Ruhl  5:02  

You don’t like them 

Charlotte Ward  5:03  

..and you’re right. It’s not It’s not like you’re made leader on Monday and you go right there you go, I’m out of the queue now, I’m going to do all the strategy and you guys do the work because it’s the process as much of as much an operational process as a mindset shift needed and and that trust being built as well.

Natalie Ruhl  5:22  

And I enjoy being in the queue from time to time, you know, so I still do it. I will, you know, happily be there on a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do at home. Just go into the queue for a couple of hours. Just because I feel like it. I really I really love my job if I feel like it, I will just do that. And also during the week like I’ll have a look at the queue and see what’s been going on or check in like what are the top three issues of this week? Where can I maybe help to get something fixed, you know, because sometimes the team struggles with like being being heard or like making the priority of something clear

Charlotte Ward  5:57  

And that’s important, isn’t it? That actually the benefits aside from alleviating the boredom on a rainy Saturday afternoon, that actually being in the queue actually has some other benefits for you. It gives you that greater sense of what’s happening and that familiarity with the current state of things. 

Natalie Ruhl  6:15  

I still want to be up to date on things that happen. I do that by talking to a few customers week, just keeping up to date with the with the vibe is incredibly important to me. I identify things where I’m like, Oh, actually, you know, maybe nobody has asked me but this is maybe a field where I can be helpful or where, where I can figure out a solution to alleviate some of the team’s pain.

Charlotte Ward  6:39  

That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/22 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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