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As a small business owner you can’t do it ALL. Here are some tips that will help you lead your team in thinking for themselves which ultimately leads to better thinking for your business.
As small business owners know, the demands of building, operating, managing and growing a successful business are high, and often times overwhelming. As soon as one task is complete, two more pop up. Many times, we hear business owners lament “I just can’t get everything done, especially when I have to do everything myself!”
They grudgingly accept that juggling the demands of customers and employees, troubleshooting problems, reading email, and drumming up new customers and new opportunities is just par for the course. They miss deadlines, miss opportunities, and miss many weekends with family, chalking it up as the price they must pay for owning a business.
Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case. Learning to effectively delegate is the answer. Perhaps you’ve tried it before without success. Well don’t despair… making the commitment to delegate and having (a lot of) patience, along with these 3 tips will get you on your way to meeting your goals.
Keep in mind when beginning to delegate that one of the most important keys is to make your team members feel empowered and in control.
- Retrain employees to put their best foot forward.
As business owners, our past behavior has taught employees that we are going to edit and redo everything they do. Employees have learned not to try too hard, because it’s going to be completely changed anyway. Nothing can be more demoralizing to an employee than the thought that nothing they do will ever be good enough.
For example, if an employee sends you a sales proposal for you to review, try immediately responding before you even read it with the question, “Is this your best work?” Once they can assure you that it is their best, only then do you review it. If at that point you think changes need to be made, send it back to them with your comments, but let them make the changes.
If they still can’t get it right, you may need to spend some time on training (not doing). Go to their work area and let them sit at the computer, making the edits while you look on coaching them through the correct process. If progress is slow or non-existent after trying this a few times with a particular employee, it may be time to consider if they are the right person for the job.
2. Don’t offer solutions to problems.
You are a great problem solver and your employees know it. And let’s be honest, you sort of believe you always have the best solution. Well, put your ego aside for the good of your business and try this.
When a team member walks into your office, plops down in a chair, and lets out a big sigh, you know they are about to dump a problem in your lap. Listen to their story and at the end (instead of jumping into problem solving mode), say, “Hmmm… I don’t know. What do you think we should do?” Hold back your chuckle at their reaction and wait for a response. You have just put the problem back on their plate – where it belongs.
This approach allows you to hear their thought process as they think it through. In addition, it trains the team member to think things through first and prevents them from bringing every problem to your desk. You get them to solve the problem, but you get to see (and troubleshoot) the solution before it gets implemented.
3. Shift non-strategic tasks off your plate.
There are always tasks that you are doing that are not strategic and should be moved to your team members. Sometimes they are things that you do out of habit and other times they are things that you enjoy; but either way, as the leader of your company you shouldn’t be doing them – someone else should.
Ask your team members, “What three things am I doing that you should be doing instead?” This forces your team members to think about things that they can take from you that would free up your time and give them more responsibility. If you ask it regularly (weekly, monthly or quarterly), it keeps your staff always thinking about what they can take on. It’s also a terrific question to ask at review time! It keeps them growing and adding new skills and it frees you up to do your job.
REMEMBER: As your business grows, you can’t do everything yourself. If you think things are getting too overwhelming, or if you know you can’t continue to live and work at this pace for much longer, turning to your team is the answer. Chances are you will be pleasantly surprised!
Managing people, procedures, and profits is just what you do as a small business owner. Your CFO for Hire understands that and we want to stand by your side through it all. Check out some of our other blogs by clicking here and be sure to download this free tool which will assist you in delegating your cashflow!