Holiday time!

It’s that time of year again, the one we always look forward to; the summer holidays.

Kids have finished school, the bags are packed, tickets, passports, sun cream………plus for a lot of business owners, mobile phone, laptop or tablet. “Just so that I can keep an eye on the business while we’re away”.

Holidays are often a big challenge for business owners, because the business has to go on without them there. What will happen to customer service if I’m not there? Will the production schedule still run? Will the staff know what to do when an important customer walks in the door and wants that job completed yesterday? What happens if a machine breaks down? What about getting the wages paid? What happens to cash flow while I’m away? And so forth……

Needless to say, for some business owners this is all too much. They stay home and don’t take that well-earned and much deserved break. They simply can’t leave their staff to take care of it all, so they stay put, do it all themselves while watching their staff head off to enjoy their holidays..

The point here is that this sort of business owner is, in fact, a control freak; and the one thing about a control freak is that they very rarely have any real control.

Of course it’s too late to do anything to save this year’s holiday, but what about the future? Wouldn’t it be great if your staff took responsibility for the tasks which they are responsible for and didn’t rely on you to make things happen? Well it can happen and it’s called the art of delegation.

Delegation isn’t just about asking someone to do something and then forgetting about it. It’s about creating a culture of trust in your organisation. It’s about having someone take the responsibility for a specific deliverable which is clearly defined and having them report back on how well it’s going. When it’s managed like that, most people are happy to rise to the challenge and be proud of what they have achieved.

There are a couple of interesting words in that last paragraph:

Culture – the company culture is all pervading and the people in the business learn what the culture is from the top. So if nobody is given any responsibility “because the boss decides”, then nobody will take any responsibility, so the boss ends up deciding on everything! However, if people are encouraged to think for themselves, allowed to show some initiative and are recognised for their efforts then they will normally take up the challenge.

Deliverable - just because someone does something different from the way you would doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Provided the outcome is the same then let them do it their way. It’s the deliverable that matters; they have either achieved the required result, or they haven’t. What you need is the means to determine if they have achieved it

Clearly defined – it is important that the staff know what is important and how they determine if they have achieved it or not. So some clearly defined measures are important. Set some targets “Your target is to manufacture 45 widgets a week with a reject rate of no worse than 6%”

Trust – just because you trusted someone to do a job doesn’t mean you can’t ask them to prove they’ve done it. Make it part of their job to report back to you on whether the agreed deliverable has been achieved and make that reporting cycle a regular part of the role.

Manage – “if it’s not measured, it’s not managed” so your role is to manage the staff so they can achieve the deliverables the business needs and report back regularly on how well things are happening, by putting measures in place. “This week I manufactured 47 widgets against a target of 45, which is more than last week at only 42, but the reject rate went from 5% to 8% against a target rate of 6%”.

So what has this got to do your holidays? Well, if you set the business up so that your staff understand what is expected of them and report back to the management team on their progress, not just at holiday time but all year round, then you will feel comfortable that you are in control of the business, and that means you can go on holiday and be happy that your business will still be there when you get back.

If you want to know more about this holiday thing, then get in touch and we’ll talk through how you can change your business so that you own it, not the other way around!

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