Working with interns is a unique way to get the support you need as you grow without having to hire employees or even independence contractors. Why do I bring this up? One of the unique aspects about women is their reluctance to ask for help and with that to delegate the work to others. In network marketing, we, as team leaders, often need individuals for short term projects in areas that we either don’t have the expertise or just don’t have the time or bandwidth to handle. I know I am someone who thinks “I can do it all!!!” I think Peggy Lee in the song, “I am Woman” caught the essence of this:
I can wash out 44 pairs of socks and have ‘em hangin out on the line
I can starch & iron 2 dozen shirts ‘fore you can count from 1 to 9
I can scoop up a great big dipper full of lard from the drippins can
Throw it in a skillet, go out & do the shopping, be back before it melts in the pan
‘Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N….
While the tasks may not be ones we still do today, we still think of ourselves as Wonder Woman. Because we are women, there is a tendency to think we need to work 4 times as hard taking on far too many things in order to be recognized for what we do around the house, the family and especially the team. The interesting fact is that the more we model this behavior, the more our team members bail thinking they could not possibly do all that you do.
To say the least, two interns saved my bacon when I was building my team, managing a 1500 person conference, writing a transition manual and just trying to get to my 500 emails a day. Do you think delegation might have been in my future?
It was 2009 and my youngest daughter was in a Food Service Management curriculum at college. Part of the beauty of Johnson & Wales University is that they require students to perform an intern/externship in their major for each degree they earn. Because Johnson & Wales confers both an Associate and a Bachelor’s degree in the normal 4 year period, two intern/externships are necessary.
For her Bachelor’s degree, the school did not arrange the intern/externship and expected the students to find what would be the perfect experience for them. Some wanted to work in restaurants; others in catering companies and a few went back into hotels. Allyce checked all those out and was frustrated in not finding just what she wanted in Charlotte. However, she really was reluctant to come home and work we her MOM. What could MOM possibly teach her about hospitality?
I “hired” my daughter and another Johnson & Wales student from Providence who was having the same challenges. Both were getting college credit for the work they performed and I provided room and board as well.
Because both assignments were project based with a finite amount of time and effort required, they were perfect for their requirements. Now, don’t think my staff and I didn’t have any work to do. We had to define the work to be done, set performance objectives and standards per the college standards; teach, coach, and mentor them throughout the term; and write performance evaluations at mid-term and end of term. he students got a chance to see how business was done and how to work with the clients. It was a rich and fulfilling experience on both sides.
Interns, like independent distributors or contractors, are a great example of herding cats. As seniors, the girls would just as soon go off and shop or play than do school work – truly senioritis. In addition, their idea of a “work” day was not starting at 9:00 and ending at 5:00. In fact, it was, more often than not, a challenge to get them out of bed by noon. These were not little kittens to herd but bigger, wilder, independent cats who would just as soon tell you what they thought of your ideas and your timeline. Watch them Roar!!
I learned a great deal about herding cats that term which I have incorporated into the 12 Steps of The Art of Herding Cats: Leading Teams of Leader. I will teach you how to go from creating an aligned vision, to planning and evaluating the work, to celebrating the accomplishments at the end of the project or just the month. Oh, by the way, if you are considering Unpaid Interns like I did, there is a strict Test for Unpaid Interns from the Department of Labor, but if your project can pass that test, this is a win-win for you and the intern.
Something else I have learned as a business woman is to ask for what you want. If you loved what you just read, this content is not for free. As a form of payment, I am asking you simply to comment or share this on Facebook or tweet about it on Twitter.
Linda Patten, MBA, BSN, RN has over 30 years of experience leading women to success in building and achieving their dreams. She turns networking marketing women from product sellers to leaders of highly functioning teams. To learn more about her innovative programs, click on Contact Us.