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Ken Keller: Is the next level for you?

Brain Food For Business Owners

Posted: January 19, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 19, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Ken Keller

 

I recently conversed with the owner of a profitable company. She was interested in addressing some issues so she could return her attention to growing the business.

When I asked about challenges and opportunities she was facing, she sighed and said to me that “It never ends, the constant interruptions and crises; I fight fires all day long. The only time I get to the stuff that matters strategically, I am dead tired, so I rarely spend any time at all on it.”

The owner asked me for input. I told her that unless and until she was ready to hire and pay people to report directly to her that she could absolutely trust to get things done in the quality manner she wanted, she was stuck.

Put another way, the owner of the business was going to have to learn how to effectively delegate.

Growing your business and taking it to the next level means making some significant changes from how you currently do things and how your company operates.

You set the tone

Why does everyone line up at your door? At some point in the past, you have made it clear that your employees are not empowered to make decisions, which includes spending money. This is because you don’t trust them to make the same decision you would make.

If you continue to be the only decision-maker in the company, it will only get worse for you. If you decide to change, and learn to delegate and trust people, life should get better. Until you make that decision and that significant shift, you’ll be perpetually in your office with a line of people waiting to hear what you want them to do.

Good people are the solution

There are likely already some employees on the payroll that you trust. Give some thought how you can retain the controls you need to insure that assignments are completed on time, on budget and to your desired quality standard. Seek out those trusted employees at whatever level and share with them, teaching them if necessary, what specifically you expect. Explain your concerns and then monitor their work being along the way, adjusting as necessary.

Time to reorganize

Many companies I have worked with have long tenured employees in key roles. The issue is that while the company has grown, and the market has changed, the employee has done neither.

“What got you here won’t get you there” is true. Employees that have not kept up and can’t catch up need to be placed under a new manager. Hire from the outside and change the reporting structure. These tenured employees are not being demoted and their pay is not being cut; they are being re-assigned to a new manager able to teach and mentor to make a stronger contribution going forward.

Peanuts are for monkeys

If you want to go to the next level, be prepared to pay the price for the best people to come to work for your company. While you may undergo sticker shock when you learn how much the best candidates are asking for these days, keep in mind that a single “A” player on your team may have the capacity and the capability to do the work of at three, and possibly more employees.

Getting to the next level is not for every owner. Talking about expanding is one thing; actually making it happen is another.

It requires change and making what may well be some very tough decisions. The most important decision is to give up some level of control in exchange for allowing the most trusted and talented employees to do what they are on the payroll to do.

Ken Keller facilitates The Wise Owners Advisory Boards, bringing business owners together for education, sharing and on-going success. Contact him at KenKeller@SBCglobal.net. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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