I was working with a coaching client recently who told me she had a serious problem. She said that, despite having great sales and what appeared to be a thriving business, she was still struggling with some crippling management issues. After some digging down with her through peripheral issues, we determined that she had two main problems facing her.
He admitted that she was still spending far too much time trying to oversee and manage things in her business and, secondly, she was having difficulty simply getting people to do what they were supposed to do.
Frustrations in Your Business
In my experience, this is not unusual. In fact, the stress and resentment of being trapped in a business that you supposedly built to give you freedom, and the frustration of trying to manage employees effectively, are probably the most common issues I hear from business owners.
It can be understandably distressing for a business owner to look up five years after starting a company and realize he or she can can’t take a vacation or leave the shop or office for even a few days. It’s doubly distressing to suddenly realize that if something were to happen to them, critical pieces of the business operation would be missing.
Unfortunately, this is an all too common scenario.
So, what exactly leads an owner to this precarious situation? The simplified answer is that it is the result of a lack of delegation and systems. Or documented processes, to be exact. But the larger problem for many owners is that they are so deep into the details of their own business they don’t even know how to begin to make the right changes.
But there is a way that can work.
A great starting place to is to see your business objectively in terms of how it functions. A proven approach to this is to view your business as seven major areas of accountability, which we’ve called Leadership, Finance, Management, Marketing, Brand, Sales and Delivery.
Let’s take a moment to look at two major aspects of the Management component of your business: managing employees and managing processes, or systems.
Management Through Enablement
One of the concepts embraced by EMyth is that every employee is essentially a systems operator. From the owner on down to the lowest skilled worker in the organization, everyone comes to work each day and operates a series of systems, or processes and procedures, that all work together to make the business function.
The manager’s job is essentially to make it possible for every worker to operate their systems as effectively as possible. This means ensuring that everyone has the resources, tools, and information they need to do their job. If any of these elements are missing, or deficient, performance suffers and, consequently, the business suffers.
While the resources and tools are usually provided, information is often lacking. Specifically, the clearly documented instructions, if you will, for how to do the various processes, tasks, and procedures an employee is accountable for. We tend to refer to these collectively as ‘systems.’
Most workers are trained by being shown and told how to do various tasks. But it is less common for these tasks, or systems, to be documented in the form of a procedures manual. And if a system is not documented there is always the risk of things being done incorrectly or incompletely. And if only one or even just two people know how to do a specific task, that knowledge could be lost if those employees leave.
It’s been said regarding systems that, “If it’s not written down it’s just a rumor.”
In addition to ensuring that everything that gets done in a business will be done the same way each time to produce the same results, documenting systems also adds tangible value to a business. But having a comprehensive procedures manual in place is not the complete picture. Effective delegation must happen, as well.
Delegation Is a Beautiful Thing
As an owner, you want employees to embrace their accountabilities and to want to serve the organization in the same way you seek to serve your customers. And, as a manager, you want employees you can delegate to knowing that they’ll not only do what you ask but will even take it upon themselves to innovate and create even better ways to achieve desired results.
For this ideal scenario to become a reality in your business, you need to have these three components of good management:
- Effective communication and showing true care for your employees
- Having a method for dealing with problems or disagreements as they arise
- Having clarity of desired results and agreed upon expectations
In addition, your employees need to know that you, and other managers in the company, are willing to address their concerns, to mentor them and support their development.
When an employee’s regular position assignments and tasks are well documented, manager’s can be assured that the work can be done in a standardized way. And employee’s can be freed to work more effectively. But what about tasks that fall outside of normal or routine work?
Delegation can be employed effectively if manager’s follow this simple four step process.
Identify the work or result you want to delegate and determine to whom you’ll delegate it.
Keep in mind that you can delegate almost anything, with the following exceptions:
- You can’t delegate the overall result of your position (unless you’re leaving your position).
- You can’t delegate the work or results of someone else’s position (unless you have their agreement).
- You can’t delegate work or results that have been delegated to you and that you’ve agreed to do yourself.
When it’s time to delegate, determine which position is appropriate for the task. Not the appropriate person, the appropriate position. Unfortunately, many business owners and managers tend to delegate everything to the same person or persons, over and over because they are the ones that can be relied on.
Put the delegation in writing, with the due date.
Once you know what you’re going to delegate and have identified the right position and person for the task, you need to write the delegation down with as much detail and specificity as possible.
When you put something in writing:
- You’re more likely to communicate what you really mean.
- Others are less likely to misinterpret what you want.
- It provides a record of the request in case any of the parties forgets.
- It minimizes confusion, disagreement, and misunderstanding.
The minimum required information in your delegation is: the result you want, the standards that must be met, and the due date and time. Often the employee can determine the actual work needed to produce the result, although in some cases you might choose to lay out the task yourself in a step-by-step fashion.
Discuss the delegation with the employee whenever possible.
For new assignments, it’s a good idea to discuss the delegation with your employee. A meeting can give both of you opportunities to:
- Discuss the overall objective of the task and the logic behind the due date and the standards.
- Get clarity on the employee’s other work accountabilities and re-prioritize, if necessary.
- Determine the first reporting loop for you to check the progress of the work
Get the employee’s agreement.
The final step of the delegation process is to get the employee’s agreement to be accountable for the result. Remember: No agreement, no commitment. No commitment, no result.
You’ll find that this process allows employees to work with their managers to determine how results will be achieved. It will lead to more agreement, more commitment, and more timely results throughout your company. In addition, it will lead to more satisfying working relationships.
If you’d like help with the management of your business, please sign up for a free consultation where we can discuss this, or any other issue, to help you move your business forward. And I invite you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for videos on this and other business success topics.