Dilemma: “We lack an organizational structure. It’s like my employees are working at many different companies: Our to-do lists are growing and no one is taking the initiative to decide what needs to be done unless I get involved. What should I do?”
Thoughts of the Day: Building organizational structure is one of the hallmarks of a Stage 2 company, those organizations that have grown past the startup stage but have not yet reached full maturity. Figure out what you have to work with and the best way to organize your employees into more efficient units. Learn how to delegate to those teams. It’s important to make sure your employees know where the company is headed and their role in helping the business get there.
It’s all about making the transition from entrepreneur to business builder.
Most companies in the U.S. never make it out of Stage 1’s entrepreneurial and opportunistic beginnings, even though the financial rewards are found in Stage 2, when a small business owner becomes a business builder. Stage 2 companies are significantly more efficient, profitable, stable, and successful. Learn how to develop and lead a committed group of individuals, then organize them into teams headed in the same direction, which will help with overall business growth and owner satisfaction.
Look for people who can turn intentions into action, are goal oriented, have the drive to succeed, and possess the ability to learn and create solutions. Employees with these key attributes are the future leaders of your company. Give them opportunity to hone their skills by asking them to lead their peers.
It sounds counterintuitive, but in order to gain control you must give up control. People talk about the necessity of delegation—especially for business owners—a lot. It can be harder than it sounds, but there are some key ways to get on the right path to delegation. Ask your people to step up, and be open with them about your willingness to delegate tasks and projects. Encourage them to take ownership, be accountable, think their way through problems, and seek outside education to further develop into leaders. (You can read more about how to delegate on page 16.)
When problems arise—and they will, which is OK and normal—ignore your gut reaction to criticize and pull the task away. Instead, ask your teams to report on what went wrong and what they’re going to do about it as well as what they learned from it. This cannot be emphasized enough: Resist the temptation to take over. Let teams work together to find solutions. Be there to give advice and guidance if asked, but don’t try to take over or micromanage. It can be scary to let go, but if you believe you have hired good people, trust the process. It takes practice to make delegation a habit.
Most small business owners say their businesses need a business plan, but they don’t have one. It can be hard for employees to follow a leader without knowing what the plan is. If you’re one of the many business owners without written plans, consider how people are going to follow your lead if you don’t put where the organization is headed in clear writing. Some business owners fear writing out a business plan. What if things change? What if they pick the wrong direction? What if people won’t follow or don’t want to go on that journey? All valid concerns, but sometimes as business leaders and owners, you have to push past those insecurities for the benefit of the company and the people you employ.
Get people into the right jobs. Stop worrying and start writing things down. Some people will stick with you for a long time, while others will be around for a shorter trip. No matter the length of time they’re with you, make sure they can understand and follow your lead.
Establish a regular meeting schedule where you review what’s been accomplished and what’s next. Help the group brainstorm a list of things that need attention. Assign names and due dates to each item. Check in regularly to see how things are progressing. Re-date past-due items and check off things that are done. Add to the list: Make it a living document that everyone can use to stay on point and measure progress. Encourage discussing what else needs to be done, and how the group might tackle them.
It’s a work in progress. As your group grows confident in stepping up, increase the tasks you delegate. The load will start to come off your shoulders as they feel more confident. Give up control to gain control. Trust the process. It works.
Looking for a good book? Try “The Incredibly Useful Book of Delegation: How to Delegate So It Gets Done Correctly The First Time!” by Silver Rose. [CD0220]
Robyn Goldenberg is Director of Operations and Marketing for Strategy Leaders. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.