TAKE A STEP BACK – Create a Self Managing Business
Are you that frustrated business owner, continually on the vicious circle of the hamster wheel, feeling like the business is running you, instead of you running the business? As you begin to scale up, business owners often fall into the trap of being too involved with the day-to-day operational detail.
The biggest failing of many leaders is not allowing their team to get on with the job when they should be focusing on the bigger picture and finding time to spend on more strategic activities. You naturally have a fear of losing control when you put your trust and faith in other people who you perceive will never do the job as well as you do.
Don’t be fooled. Businesses are complex entities, and you are the driver and the leader. If you continue to try and be one of the team, another colleague, you are depleting your one valuable management resource of leadership. You feel like you never have a moment to make the all-important leadership decisions and manage your teams. You probably end up in that vicious circle of firefighting, reacting to the urgent rather than proactively managing the important.
But your team don’t need a colleague; they need a leader. To overcome this fear, you must take a step back to develop the tools that are going to free you up from managing the minutiae whilst still maintaining overall control of the business destiny.
The business owner needs to be in the driving seat, evolving the business systems and processes to provide the right management information to stay in your comfort zone of knowing your operations are going in the right direction, without feeling you’re losing control of the results.
You need to create that self-managing business, design and implement your business DNA, so you can keep your finger on the pulse of the day-to-day momentum but find sacred time to work ON the business.
Here are three key actions to move your business into self-management – freeing up sacred time to focus on the strategic growth away from the day-to-day tasks.
Most owner-managers work long hours, but research shows they spend too much time meddling in the detail and solving other people’s problems for them. The most important task you should be dedicated to is the future strategy of the business. Yet, the typical owner-manager spends less than 10% of their time on this.
The thought of delegating to your staff can be scary. The fear of losing control of the detail is the key factor that normally shackles you into the operational minutiae that you should be confident to leave to your employees.
Delegation can be achieved by coaching your staff, transferring your knowledge and experience, whilst allowing them the autonomy to bring their own skills and capabilities to the job. You never know, they may be better at it than you, and you shouldn’t feel threatened by that – embrace it! Richard Branson couldn’t fly a plane but look where the Virgin empire is now.
Developing effective management systems, monitoring and reporting procedures will ensure that
- you keep your finger on the pulse without having to micromanage
- you’ll receive status updates on a daily or weekly basis before things get too far out of control
- you’ll be proactive in steering off-schedule conditions back on track before it has a negative long-term impact.
Delegating will begin to free up your time, allow your employees to get on with the job in hand whilst you get out there and work on the long-term sustainability and future of your business.
Systems for Smarter Working
When moving through the start-up to the first growth phase, a lot of change can take place in a very short space of time, which can be daunting for you as the owner, let alone the staff being carried along with you. There is always a need to be flexible and fluid, but to stay in control of your business growth, you must put systems and processes in place. Providing structure to their working day, week or month helps your employees feel stable in what can otherwise be an overwhelming state of constant change.
Going back to my point about learning to delegate, this is made so much easier if you have mapped the workflows, written the manuals and procedures and set out your expectations clearly. It’s essential to create systems or frameworks within which people should work – from giving them a simple daily task list to more sophisticated control mechanisms defining the indicators against which their progress and performance will be measured and managed. Without these, your employees have little or no understanding of what is expected of them, and delegation will create more problems than it resolves.
Document your company “Best Way’
As businesses grow it’s key to ensure that the processes or work methods producing the best results are shared across your team, whether for example, that’s the fastest, most efficient, produce the best quality or use of materials. I’ve regularly come across businesses where staff are rarely consulted on why they got such good results (or poor results) and shared their experiences.
If you don’t encourage this cross-fertilisation, how can you perpetuate the best practice and eliminate the inefficiencies? The opportunity to have everyone maintaining the highest standard, rather than just small pockets of staff working at the optimum level, could be masking your profit potential simply because of the lack of knowledge sharing.
Additionally, and possibly more of a risk, it’s not unheard of for employees to make information their own without regular sharing of work methods. This becomes a power base to make themselves indispensable, which is risky as the business owner becomes unwittingly dependent on that individual. This can create real bottlenecks if no one else in the business can perform that function should the person call in sick or go on holiday.
More worryingly, when that staff member leaves the business, the knowledge and experience they’ve gained leaves with them, and you’re back to the drawing board. This is the key reason I advocate de-personalising the running of the business through systems and processes. It maintains the ‘company way’ rather than being reliant on a single individual.
By building a library of best practice procedures and making that the training manual or, at least, a point of reference in the event someone does go off sick, you reduce the risk to your business. You will also see the benefits of a more flexible and engaged team, as they can see their own performance improving. This breaks down any existing ‘hierarchy’ between employees, which often demotivates the less skilled members of the team.
When everybody understands the best way to work to optimise their productivity, deliver the best quality product or highest level of customer service as standard, rather than the exception, your bottom-line results will improve.
If the process or system changes – which it should do if you’re continually looking for ways to improve and avoid chaos, that’s fine – you just update the manual accordingly and communicate the changes through a Toolbox Talk or monthly training update session. The Company ‘Best Way’ should evolve and improve over time, in a culture of continuous improvement.
There are fringe benefits to documenting your processes, systems and procedures. ISO Accreditation or other Quality Certifications require written statements of your business procedures in a transparent and auditable format. Get it right, and you’ll be halfway to achieving that accreditation.
When providing quotations, bidding or tendering, you will stand out from the crowd and gain a competitive advantage if you can present documented standards of how you manage your business. These will clearly communicate the quality of service your clients can consistently expect from you.
And last, but not least, if you decide to sell your company your procedures will add significant value and make your business more attractive to prospective buyers.
Build Your Turnkey Business
To achieve your turnkey business, Alluxi offers the Business DNA Open Course for entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders wanting to scale up their organisation to achieve their life goals and financial aspirations.
This is an intensive group programme of six workshops delivered over 13 weeks, for start-up and early years SME’s, or more established businesses with management roles, needing to get systems, processes and procedures in place to get in control of the detail without micro-managing.
This open course delivers the fundamentals required to enable you to be less hands-on with day-to-day operations, giving you more time to be strategic and forward-thinking. You will be guided to develop the unique genetic code specific to your organisation.
This will become the business DNA that allows you to consistently deliver on time, on budget, with the right level of resource. In turn, it will enable you to do all the right things to create happy customers, a decent work-life balance and the financial results you aspire to.
For more information and to register your interest in the next course starting in 2022 please, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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