"I feel like I have to do everything myself. My team are no good and I don’t trust them. I just can’t seem to recruit good people”
In the most successful businesses, the owner-manager sets the strategy, and the delivery of that strategy is managed by a small team, typically including at least a financial director, operations director and sales director.
However, from my experience, many owner-managers end up continuing to manage everything themselves, either through failing to recruit this team to help them, or by neglecting to trust the team they have already put in place.
When you start a business, you are the business. You’re the person that answers the phone, does the jobs, gets the work out, does the invoices. You have to do it all. Eventually, if you are successful, you take on a few members of staff but you’re still the one that sorts everything out. Then you grow a bit more and you create this management team but unfortunately, by this time, you’re too involved; you can’t let go. You can’t let the people you have hired do their job, as you don’t trust them to do it as well as you can. It’s very easy for a business to stagnate at this stage.
I see it all the time, and it is one of the big reasons businesses don’t flourish as they should. A business owner will tell me in the morning how bad his management team are but, when you talk to people on a one-to-one basis later in the day, you usually find they are also dissatisfied with him because he keeps meddling with what they are trying to do. People often say: ‘I wish he would trust us. He wants to do too much and he won’t ask for help’. They might show him a presentation that they are due to deliver the next day, and the boss starts changing slides at the last minute or – worst case scenario – decides to deliver the presentation himself instead.
It’s important to ensure your management team is accountable, but you need to empower people to get on with the job. They want to help. They want to work for a successful business, and want to do more to help you achieve that success.
On the Business Growth Programme, we work to support business owners to remove themselves from the day-to-day activity of the business and hand it over to a management team that they trust, so that they can concentrate on the strategic direction of the company.
Key to creating this strong management team is a robust recruitment process that can find and attract the very best talent into the business. Failure to recruit well can not only be expensive, but also very time-consuming. In many businesses, it can take around nine months from the moment you decide to recruit someone to them actually starting in the role, and then it may be another three months before you know if they are the right person for the job. So, it is important to cast the net wide, gathering lots of potential candidates and then allowing them to deselect themselves from the process as it continues on. As a side note, businesses should be prepared to pay the going rate for the expertise they require.
Another part of growing a strong team is removing people from the business who are simply not doing the job as well as they should. Normally these are the people who have worked for you for years. They love you, you love them, and you are paying them a fortune, but they are simply not working well enough and you don’t really know what to do with them. Often you know what you should do, but you don’t know how to have the conversation, or don’t have the confidence to tackle the issue.
The thing is that, when you do, you often find it goes better than you expected. Often these people know they can’t do the job, and are relieved to be able to talk to you about it. They may end up leaving the business, but equally you may be able to reorganise things to find them a role that they enjoy that enables them to contribute to your business in a way that both of you are comfortable with.
What people don’t realise is that having someone in the business who doesn’t do a good job doesn’t reflect badly on that person – it reflects badly on the person paying their wages.
I’ve had owner-managers I’ve encouraged to have these conversations come back to me afterwards saying: ‘I feel fantastic. It was such a relief. I feel like a weight has lifted off my shoulders, because now I have the right people around me.’
With thanks to Paul Rutt