Small business owners are accustomed to running the whole show. But as your company grows, you’ll need to start sharing responsibility for major decisions. Whether you’ve recruited experienced managers or developed “home grown” talent, empower these employees with the tools and authority they need to be effective leaders.
Successful delegation starts with a collaborative mindset. Stop thinking of your managers as employees and instead regard them as team members working toward the same common goals. To promote collaboration and make the best use of your human resources, clearly communicate objectives so that, for example, managers aren’t focusing on extracting new business from current sales areas when your priority is expanding into new territories.
You also must be willing to listen to your managers’ ideas — and to act on the viable ones. Relinquishing control can be hard for business owners, but keep the advantages in mind. A collaborative approach distributes the decision-making burden, so it doesn’t fall on just your shoulders. This may relieve stress and allow you to focus on areas of the company that you may have neglected.
Even as you move to a more collaborative management model and include employees in strategic decisions, don’t forget to recognize their individual skills and talents. You and other managers may have an opinion about a new marketing plan, for example, but you should trust your marketing director to carry it out with minimal oversight.
To ensure that managers know they have your confidence, conduct regular performance reviews where you note their contributions and accomplishments. Help managers grow professionally by providing constructive criticism about their core responsibilities, leadership and teamwork.
You may also find it helpful to hire an outside consultant to conduct an organizationwide review. A confidential assessment of interpersonal, leadership, technical and business issues can help identify both the best team players and the weaker links (including you) that may be hampering growth efforts.
Keep your ears open
As you learn to trust your management team with greater responsibility, keep in mind that the process can be bumpy. In a crisis situation, your instinct may be to take charge and brush off your managers’ advice. But it’s critical to keep your ears open and be receptive to input from people who may one day run your company.