Whether you are the business owner, manager, supervisor or head of department how much time do you set aside each day to delegate and mentor your staff? When was the last time you went on leave and did not worry about unfinished work left at the office? How much do you trust the competency levels of the people below you in your organisation? How much of an investment have you put towards training, coaching, mentoring and developing your staff? If that sounds like your business, then it might mean your money-making potential is limited by the time, knowledge and experience you bring to the table.
It can also mean that you need to be present every day in the office or on the shop floor to keep the business running — which limits the time you can spend finding new business opportunities. It’s time to start to build a great team of people around you, who can start to take responsibility for the day-to-day running of your business.
Building a great team
The key is to build a great team who share your vision, who are clear as to their roles and responsibilities and who can manage the business when you’re away, whether for a day, a week or even longer. It’s an essential part of making the journey from being self-employed to being the owner of a sustainable business.
Step 1: Clearly defined structure, roles and responsibilities
Your first step should be to have a well defined organisational structure that sets out all of the positions required for the business to function effectively in achieving its vision as well as showing the reporting lines for each position. The next step is to have a detailed duty statement for each position. This will eliminate any grey areas by ensuring that everyone is clear on what is expected of them.
Step 2: Create a leadership team and help them develop into a high performing team. This can include the application of a personality profiling instrument such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator that will assist in the development of effective decision making skills.
Step 3: Share your knowledge
As the owner/manager, you may have invaluable management skills or knowledge that benefits the business. Make the effort to share your knowledge with your leadership team so that they get a clear vision of how your business runs. It’s vital to establish systems that make it easy for knowledge to be shared, ideally through written procedures and good communication. Keep your leadership team in the loop about major events and decisions by using tools such as shared calendar access.
Step 3: Delegate, delegate, delegate!
Don’t think you’re the only person who can do the job. Give others a chance to share the responsibility of running your business. This will help lift the weight off your shoulders. As you train up others and delegate tasks, you are building up your assets, which can only help achieve your goals and boost your business’ profitability.
Step 5: Emphasise team goals
It’s important not to set up dysfunctional competition within your leadership team. Your aim is to build a well oiled machine where people complement each other, rather than compete against each other and create unhealthy – and unhelpful – relationships. Creating healthy emotional bonds between your team members and establishing core goals or beliefs will help establish ties and keep people focused on your business objectives and their own targets.
You need to motivate your staff so they want to achieve the goals of the business. Offer support and encouragement and care about your workers and their individual needs and concerns. In turn, employees will learn to respect you and take care of your business while you are away.
Step 6: Reward your lieutenants
As you give your lieutenants more responsibilities and they become involved with managing operations, you’ll need to consider whether they should be paid more. Paying competitive salaries and rewarding your staff are important steps to making them feel valued. If you underpay, the loyalty of your lieutenants could be tested and they may begin to lose focus on the job at hand. Often a relatively small rise can be enough to keep someone happy. That’s a good investment when you add up the costs of recruiting, retraining and lost productivity when an experienced staff member leaves. A beneficial precursor to salary reviews is the application of an effective performance appraisal system. This will ensure that formal feedback on job performance is provided.
Once you’ve built a great team who share your skills and can manage the business when you’re away, you’re ready to make the journey from self-employed to owner/manager of a sustainable business.
Letting go to grow
As a business owner, a critical step in your journey to creating a business that operates independently of your involvement is to ensure you have good systems in place to get there.
Start by writing a comprehensive business plan mapping the direction you want to take and the systems you’ll put in place to achieve your goals. The key word here is systems: documented effective processes that can be repeated every day. Systems create consistency, which is the key to strong business performance. Importantly, they don’t need you and they can be taught to your team.
The kinds of systems you create will depend on your industry, but there are some that every business needs:
New Business Development – procedures including strategic planning, marketing and opportunity identification and evaluation
Customer Relationship Management
Finance – debtor and creditor management, payroll, cashflow, reporting and compliance
Staff Management – recruitment, induction and training, performance appraisal, counseling and exit interviews
With your systems up and running, you can begin handing over day-to-day responsibilities to your team so you can step back and develop the business for greater growth and profitability.