Many entrepreneurs start small businesses so they can call the shots--make the decisions, take responsibility, and receive the rewards of those decisions.
And that's great--until the business grows, and wearing every hat is not only no longer feasible. Suddenly, you're holding the business back. It's time to delegate, shift authority to the level at which it belongs, let other people step up and put their stamp on the business.
Sounds great, right? But it's also really hard, especially when you're used to being in almost-total control.
Here are four reasons letting go can help you focus on ways to really grow your business:
1. You're slowing the speed of change.
Think of it in production terms. Sometimes the biggest constraint to productivity is you. Ideas can't be fleshed out until you're available. Decisions can't be made until you're available. Change flows through you--or, when you're too busy, it stops at you.
Ask your employees if they feel they can act as quickly as they would like. If the answer is "no," ask why. Sometimes, you'll find out the problem isn't you. Often, especially as your business grows, it will be your lack of availability and decision-making capacity.
Once your reasons grow to a certain size, your role must shift from making things happen to helping other people make things happen.
And that's especially true when...
2. Your best employees have become frustrated.
When a decision needs to be made, you're probably not the best person to make it. Almost always, the best person is the person closest to the matter involved.
That's another way your role must shift. You'll need to start making a different key decision: identifying the best people to make certain decisions.
A great employee on the shop floor is in the best position to make quality or productivity decisions. He or she understands all the factors involved and can not only make the right decision but will then feel more responsible for the outcome. People always care more when they're carrying out their own decisions, if only because they don't want to be wrong.
Give your employees latitude to make more decisions. They'll enjoy their jobs more, and they'll free you up to make the decisions they can't--and that you really need to make
3. It seems like you're the only person with ideas.
"Seems" is the key word, because even if employees aren't bringing ideas forward, they still have them.
The problem is, they don't think it matters if they make a suggestion or offer input because you're too busy--or distracted, or overwhelmed--to listen, much less act on it.
Every employee has ideas. Every employee has input. Every employee will, if given the chance, find ways to do their jobs better, to serve your customers better, to cut costs or increase efficiency or improve quality. You just have to make it easy for them to bring those ideas forward.
This means, first and foremost, that you must have the time available to listen closely to those ideas and give them the consideration they deserve.
You might not always say yes, and that's okay. Your employees don't expect you to act on every suggestion. But they do expect you to listen carefully and respond thoughtfully.
That's how you build a culture of engagement. That's how you build a stronger company.
4. If you're honest with yourself, you've started to enjoy being in control.
As leaders, we're at our best--and our companies are at their best--when we see ourselves as servants of the people we lead. We feel our successes coming from the success of other people.
The best leaders don't care about who controls what. They care about results, both for their companies and for their employees.
Start giving up control and start focusing on providing tools that help your employees perform better. Start focusing on providing the tools and guidance that helps your employees serve your customers better.
In short, by giving up control you actually gain more control--over your company's results.
And that means you reap the rewards, too.