In the beginning it’s all hands to the pump. You probably start off with a few staff. Sometimes it’s just you and maybe one other who has a dream to create a product or a service. You go through the usual pain of finding that initial funding, that elusive investor that will help your dream come true. Like most entrepreneurs you work slavishly at getting your business off the ground. Twenty fours hours a day, always connected to e-mail and your mobile phone.
Then the excitement of your first client, your first sale. And your business is off and running. It’s starting to grow. And it grows and grows. That growth is good news. When you have so much to do and not enough staff to do it, it’s a nice problem to have. We would all love to have business growing pains. But be careful. That growth can kill your business. Growth without control, without leadership will result in chaos.
And so you hire staff, and then you hire managers to manage those staff. You are now creating an organisational structure. Levels within the organisation that have responsibility to you and the organisation for performance and results.
The issue comes when you don’t step out of your comfort zone. Don’t step away from what you know best. The service, the product you’ve created.
Do you micro manage? Do you delegate tasks and responsibilities? Do you trust your workforce?
Micromanagement is a business style whereby you constantly check and manage those tasks as-signed to your staff. It’s not a particularly healthy style of management. It inhibits development growth of your people. It makes them nervous and uneasy. Like someone is constantly watching over them. A lot of small business and new business owners micromanage. They started the business, most often on their own or maybe with a small team. And in those early days as the business grew they had to do everything. They were involved in all aspects of the business.
If you know or like the TV series Star Trek, you’ll understand this. If not, I hope you get the picture anyway.
Captain Kirk, who commands an entire Star ship of some 1000 people can only do so from the captain’s chair on the bridge. But yet I often see Captain Kirk down below in the engine room watching what the Chief Engineer, Scotty, is doing. You can’t tell Scotty what to do with dilithium crystals (Google it). He knows because he’s the chief engineer. He’s there because you gave him that trust. You hired him because he’s a subject matter expert in engineering. So why are you in the engine room. Because you feel comfortable down there. It’s your ship. It’s easier to keep close to what you know than it is to lead people. To lead an organisation. But lead it you must.
An organisation that’s growing needs direction, strategy and leadership. When you employ a management team, you must empower them to manage. Give them responsibility and authority for the results of their team. In our Star Trek example, Captain Kirk needs to know if there are any engine problems. He needs to know how the engines perform. He doesn’t need to be involved with the doing, with running the engine room. It’s not easy being a leader of people. You can have a natural ability or you can teach yourself. Through books, seminars, learning.
Another thing to bear in mind is that as you grow your business, surround yourself with great people. Don’t be scared of other people’s intelligence and skill. Everyone has something to contribute. You started the business from nothing. You can’t know it all. So when you hire management, hire those that know. That’s the only way for your skill and knowledge and ultimately your leadership ability to develop.
If you run a mining company, you can’t be at the coal face with the crew digging the coal. You need to be up above leading the crew in the direction the tunnel should be going.
And here’s something else. The staff don’t expect to see you at the front end. They are there to do a job. And they expect you to do yours, which is lead them. Having said that, don’t lock yourself away in your ivory tower and never come out.! You see it’s not an easy role. You need to find a balance.
Everyone needs someone to look up to. When I was a region director, I had full autonomy to manage the region. I was a big boy! Didn’t need handholding. As you’d expect that that level of management anyway. But I did want to look up to my boss. Everyone needs to respect and learn from their boss. This won’t be bestowed upon you if you don’t step back from the day to day management, let you managers, run their departments and stay focused on leading the organisation.
So how do you step back.?
First stage is to decide on exactly what you need to know from your teams in order to know your business. By stepping back, you are not abandoning the business. Quite the opposite. You must know what’s going on. But the difference is in being a leader; you act on information about the business. Your management team provide that information and are measured by it.
With 25 Years in the Customer Service Industry, I have seen great examples of customer service and not so great. From starting out life as an engineer and reaching the dizzy heights of Regional Director I can appreciate customer service from the front line and the corporate strategy. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.knowservice.com