Two of the most precious resources available to business owners are time and money. While the stated goal for most business owners is growth, they unknowingly subvert their efforts by investing time and money in actions that are low in value. Typically owners are talented in one of the following (occasionally, two): the technical areas of the business; sales; or customer service, and that is why the company has achieved its level of success. The company receives the highest payback on time when an owner spends time in their area of competency.
Why do owners spend too much time in areas that don’t have high impact for the organization? Many reasons, including: they still see the company as small and believe they have to attend to as many items as possible; control – they feel that someone will know too much or, worse, take advantage of them if they give them more scope and responsibility; lack of trust in employees; and the biggest fallacy is that they believe that, as owners, they have become an expert in all aspects of the business.
At this point our larger corporation readers may be grinning and chuckling to themselves over the obvious mistakes that owners may be making. We have witnessed corporate leaders from department heads all the way up to officers of the company display the exact same behaviors: control issues, lack of trust in employees, keeping a narrow scope of responsibilities for employees while also deceiving themselves into thinking that their own skill set is more diverse and at a high level. Purview, perspective and value creation are huge issues for leadership in larger corporate entities and keep them in the same quandary as business owners.
A test we perform in many engagements involves a value flow review on the owners and key employees within an organization. The key question is, “how often are the key contributors spending time in their greatest area of competency and value to the company?” Our contacts are rarely surprised at the results (they are investing too much time in lower value areas that others could be better performed by others). The real challenge for owners and leaders is to acknowledge their habits and to make a change.
Acceptance and adaptation will provide a much easier path to growth. Someone else can do it better. Train, delegate, bring on higher level employees and review internal or external outsourcing options to free up invaluable time. Also allow your staff to not only learn the functions as you have performed them, but to take them to another level (with your enthusiastic support!). While difficult in the beginning, committing to growth through change will become more comfortable and extremely fulfilling for all concerned.
Getting started in the effort can be overwhelming for owners and leaders as they are immersed in the day-to-day activities. We at The Executive Influence have worked through these scenarios in a number of industries and within companies large and small. Contact us to begin a conversation on your situation and begin the process of moving forward.