A few of my clients’ owners and leaders bemoan the fact that they have to do all the work in their company. They feel they need to solve all the problems, confront all the challenges and communicate to all the constituencies. They are overwhelmed.
There is one of two explanations for this condition.
Either the owner and leaders are dictators who surround themselves with minions because they want to control every aspect of their company believing that they can’t trust anyone else to do so.
Or they have evolved, as many small businesses do, with everyone jumping in whenever something needs to be done. Everyone trying to help. Solving problems in the best way they can at a moment in time. As complexity increases in this kind of environment, well intentioned leaders start making all the decisions in an attempt to bring order to the chaos.
The problem is that talented employees won’t work for long in either kind of these cultures. You will lose the good folks and keep only those that just need a job. If you have the first culture described, it may be too late. If you have the second, there is hope.
How do I get everyone involved?
Start by building a leadership team who are passionate about your business. A key characteristic of a solid leadership team is they are willing to be open and honest with each other and with all employees. Strong leaders see their companies as a team of teams. They recognize that they can’t do it all themselves. The senior leaders who report to the owner/CEO see it as their obligation to grow an empowered team. If their team is a team of managers then those people have to be excellent managers and leaders themselves or have to be trained to be so. If their team consists of individual contributors then they need to be enabled to do their jobs independently and consistently and to solve as many problems on their own as they possibly can.
In other words, get everyone involved. If you don’t you will be operating at somewhere between 20% and 40%% of your capability at best. Be transparent about where the company is going and how it is going to get there. Provide periodic progress reports. Share your successes and failures. Create clarity about what everyone’s roles and responsibilities are. Define the best practices for all the key roles and make sure they are followed. Make sure that everyone holds themselves accountable to deliver on those roles and responsibilities on a weekly, quarterly and annual basis. This all starts with hiring people who fit your culture, share your values and are capable of doing the jobs for which they were hired.