Many business owners find themselves a prisoner of their company. "How can I leave when I need to be available to deal with the unexpected? Even my best employees don't have what it takes for me to be away."
That's head trash. I believe that the best way to find out how good your respective employees are is to go away and allow them to make decisions without your input. How do you create the ability to do that, as you tend to be the only one running your company while you are there?
Ask Questions, Don't Dictate A typical owner is providing direction all the time. They also love to be the person asked a lot of questions, such as "What do we do now that this has happened?"
Don't provide the answers. Ask clarifying questions. "What exactly has happened? Have you thought of a solution? What is it going to cost in time and money? How will you let the client know about the situation? What would you do if I wasn't here to answer your question? Who would you talk to and why that person?"
Basically, take every situation where you would otherwise automatically jump in with your answer and first ask a lot of questions. By doing so, you train those you employ to think.
Provide a Point of Reference for Decision-Making Every company has a mission statement and a short list of core values. Many companies don't have them written down, which makes it so each person who works in the company has a different idea of what they are.
Work with your team to get these important points of reference for decision-making written down. Ask everyone to write one or two sentences that are the essence of what they think the company's mission statement is. Then have everyone, with you going last, read out loud what they've written and explain why they think that's the company's mission statement.
Then you take all the input and come up with a draft of the mission statement which you distribute for review and comment. Consider any suggestions for improvement that are offered to you and produce the final version.
Do the same thing to create a list of core values.
Now you and your people have the needed points of reference for decision-making.
Prepare to Be Away Pick a date when you and your family will be away for a short time. Tell your employees several weeks ahead of time that you will be going away. Tell them you won't have your phone on and want to be able to disconnect 100%.
Ask them to think ahead about the projects that they're working on and what they might want to ask you about while you are away.
Meet with your employees a week before you are going away. Answer any questions they have regarding what might come up while you are gone. A couple of days before you depart, see if anyone has new questions. Help them figure out answers which fit the mission statement and core values by asking them clarifying questions.
Go Away for a Long Weekend Go away for a personal holiday. Take your family and leave work behind. Have a good time detoxing from being indispensable to your employees and to your company. Keep busy having fun and simply enjoying life.
Evaluate What Happened While You Were Gone When you return, meet with your employees. Ask them what happened and how they responded to the unexpected. Ask them what part of the mission statement and core values they referenced when coming up with a solution and which employee in the company they ran their idea by before implementing it.
Celebrate publicly the decision(s) which were congruent with what the company is about. This is how you build a team and a culture that depends on you less and less.
Discuss privately the decision(s) which were off the mark and where better choices could have been made. Use these as teaching moments, not berating moments.
So you know, there was a time when early in me and Nina running our business that I thought I was indispensable. And then I realized I was going to die because of all the stress I was putting on myself.
That prompted us setting dates by when we would travel. And to always be planning another getaway. And make each getaway a little longer.
We told people not to call us, even if the office burned down.
Can you imagine that? At one time, I wasn't able to.
Don't be a prisoner of your business. The less your business depends on you being there, the more valuable it becomes.