If you want something done correctly, you’ve got to do it yourself, right? That’s a wonderful philosophy if you want to create a lot of work for yourself. But if you want to create a business that works for you, you can’t do it alone. You’ve got to enable other people to do at least some of that work—and you’ve got to teach them how to do their work the way it needs to be done, just as if you’d done it yourself.
Many business owners feel that they can delegate the more basic technical work while they try to manage everything. Here too, they set themselves up for serious trouble.
Such was the case for a client of mine who had just finished his first nine months in the EMyth Program. Sam runs a small construction and remodeling company on the East Coast. When he came to EMyth, he was nearly at the end of his rope.
He thought he had a good strategy for running his business; he had hired three employees to help him with labor at the job sites, while he acted as their manager and took care of everything else. Simple enough, right?
Well, actually, no.
His strategy was so simple it turned out to not be strategic at all. It turned out that managing his employees and the rest of his business was a lot harder than he imagined it would be. One of the first things we worked on together in our coaching sessions was a clear picture of all the work of his business, and how it could be performed and managed more effectively.
The foundations of effective management
An effective management strategy begins by knowing where to start. I explained to Sam that there are three basic elements that need to be considered:
- Tools and training
Sam needs to be absolutely clear about his business vision, and stay connected to that all the time. He needs to make sure that every decision he makes on a day-to-day basis is in alignment with that vision, and he needs to make sure that everyone else understands and is inspired by that vision. He needs to make his vision theirs.
Sam has to have a clear picture of how all the work of the business should be performed and managed effectively. He needs to understand what positions need to exist and where accountabilities are held in order to make the business work seamlessly without anything slipping through the cracks.
Tools and training
His people should not just be told what do to, they also need to understand why it is to be done, shown how to do it, and be supported in achieving the desired results.
It became clear to Sam that none of these three elements were firmly established in his business. But, for Sam, the most important element was his Business Structure. He didn’t really have structure at all!
His three employees reported to him, he was in charge of everything, and he was going crazy trying to direct and control their activities effectively. The lack of structure in his business was making it hard for him to refine and communicate his vision to his employees, and they didn’t really ‘get it.’ It was also making it impossible for him to train and support his employees enough so that they could achieve the results that were needed.
Originally, he thought his business was so small that he did not need to create a formal structure or management system for it to work, but every business—even the small ones with few or no employees—needs a formal structure under which to operate.
Seeing the forest for the trees
One of the first things he did was to create an Organizational Chart. This allowed him to identify the need for several management roles within his business. For example, he needed a Field Operations Manager to oversee all of the field work, an Internal Operations Manager to oversee all of the administrative and central office work, a Sales Manager to bring in new business, and a Finance Manager to oversee the financial management aspects of the business.
Seeing these positions on paper actually made it easier for him to realize that he had been trying to fill these roles all by himself by default, which was too much for him. Armed with this new “schematic” of his business organization, Sam proceeded to:
- Create Position Agreements for each position on his Organizational Chart, specifying the results, accountabilities, and standards for each managerial and non-managerial position.
- Promote one of his most reliable and experienced employees to be the Field Operations Manager, and hire another employee with appropriate skills to act as the Internal Operations Manager. Sam retained for himself the positions of President, Finance, and Sales Manager. (This was still a lot of work, but under this new structure he was able to focus on each of those roles more effectively.)
- Conduct weekly strategic Management Team meetings with his new managers so that everyone could keep each other informed about what was happening and what was needed.
- Hold weekly Employee Development Meetings with each manager individually to address their needs and issues in a private and productive way. This single innovation was particularly critical. We discussed the kinds of difficulties that are inherent when promoting someone from the field into management, and how Sam could use these meetings to coach them through that transition in a supportive environment.
Sam had visualized how the work of the business could be managed and performed more effectively, and delegated some of the tactical and managerial work that was needed. He had created a management team with which he could work closely to help pull everything together.
It didn’t happen overnight, and there were a lot of challenges that came up along the way, but eventually he created the structure that was needed in his business. It required that he let go of his belief that he had to do it all and, in the process, was invigorated with a new level of belief in himself and his people.