Business is a creative process. It is all about the strategy; how you get into the market, find paying customers, efficiently deliver your product or service, and keep the administrative burden under control. Business owners spend hours thinking about these problems and planning for implementing their solutions.
When you're just a small business, perhaps with just you and a business partner, then it is OK for you to own the plan and build your own task list. Of course, you have to. You have to create it, own it, and implement it. That's why starting a business is hard.
As your business grows and you build a team, then things seem to get harder. It's ironic, you thought that once you got help then things would get easier for you. But for many business leaders, they don't.
You might feel that you have to own the plan, outline all the tasks, and control the implementation. That's the trap. The very thing that worked for you when you were small, now will work against you.
We often tell the story of putting the bins out. You get home from a busy day at work and as you pull into the driveway you remember that tomorrow is bin day. So you get out the car and go and get the bins and start wheeling them to the front verge. Just as you pass the kitchen window, you hear your 'significant other' yell, "can you put the bins out?" You're already doing it, but right at that moment, isn't putting the bins out now the last thing you now feel like doing?
The fact is, that we do not like being told what to do. We value our autonomy. It's a human thing. It's why so many business owners wanted to be their own boss in the first place! If that was you, then think about how you are doing things differently from where you came from. Do you want to create that same feeling for your own employees? Or would you like to have them feel like they are valuable contributors and give them a sense of ownership in the growth of the business?
For many employees, being told their tasks creates that same feeling of disempowerment and loss of autonomy. We are being told what to do - often when we are already doing it.
So, lets go back to you and your business plan. You know what you want to achieve. The key now is to engage others with their ideas on how to achieve it, rather than trying to control it and telling your team what to do.
CREATING ENGAGEMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Engagement comes when your team are given the opportunity to describe how they can contribute. The difference is important. Instead of telling them how to contribute, ask them how they will contribute. In doing this, you can transfer ownership of the tasks from you to them.
Create the environment where people can freely volunteer their accountability. It's an emotional commitment, not one generated in an employment or any other contract. It is more powerful, because ultimately it is their accountability to themselves, as much as it is their accountability to you.
You create this by communicating your plan in such a way that people can offer their discretionary effort. In making that offer, people are recognising their ability to contribute, and connecting that contribution to the business objectives. Rather than you having to tell your team what to do, your team can tell you what they can do.
We created our Proceed With Purpose Plan so that business leaders can develop their business strategy in a way that enables a more engaging way to communicate it and encourage team contribution and accountability.
By letting go of the need to own the implementation, and the need to tell others what they 'should' do to achieve the business objectives, you enable more brain power to solving your business problems and spread the accountability for action to your team.
We can also show you how to apply the same thinking to your job descriptions and managing your teams. When you move from telling to engaging, it frees you to focus on leading your business rather than worrying about whether the tasks have been done. You then move from working in it, to working on it.
H Agents write about the joys and challenges of entrepreneurship and managing people.