Being a small business owner can feel a lot like being a stressed out circus performer—
You’ve got a million balls and plates to juggle and spin, and finding balance is the only way you’re going to keep everything moving… at least at first. Once the initial adrenaline of starting the business settles, the natural progression from juggling extraordinaire to ringleader should begin–aka hiring employees.
And while the idea of having employees to help you with your workload is appealing, how many times has it seemed easier to just do something yourself instead of delegate it to one of your employees?
I’ve spoken with so many small business owners who echo my feelings on this topic. Their office has a steady flow of employees coming in to ask questions, their inbox is half-flooded with work-related questions, and they find their employees to be completely dependent on management. If you’re a small business owner, or manager of any sort, you can probably relate to this.
As as a result, you aren’t getting even close to the amount of YOUR OWN work done in a day. Ensuring your employees’ ability to work independently–essentially bypassing the need for you to constantly monitor them and answer their questions–would actually allow for double the amount of work to get done in a day!
I’ve seen both sides of the equation, from being the lowest level employee in the office, to now running my own business and hiring (and firing) many employees. Here are the 4 highly effective secrets I’ve uncovered to developing employees who are self-motivated and work independently.
1) Make sure they know their #1 priority every week.
I call this a “champagne moment”–a very important, leveraged task that is both high-priority and attainable. What this does is focus every single team member on the big picture and how what they do makes an impact at the company. And, it ensures the important things get done FIRST even in busy weeks. While you might know the business priorities instinctively, do not assume that your employees do too. Reviewing their champagne moment at the start of the week is a sure way to check their knowledge and make you feel at ease.
2) Make sure they know how to use Google.
(And if they don’t know how, direct them here for my online workshop on this subject.)
Google is the world’s most sophisticated problem solving tool, yet I see very few entry level workers making use of it to help them solve problems! They might have a fancy degree, but learning how to use Google is the number one way to get them solving problems on their own without outside help. If my employees haven’t googled their problem before asking me about it, it’s a huge no-no.
3) Implement communication rules.
This sounds like a simple one, but it’s a sleeper. Sometimes communicating in a company can feel like you’re playing a game of Telephone where the message gets garbled almost immediately! The more iron-clad and direct your communication rules are, the better your company will function. We have simple, yet detailed communication rules for how everyone interacts on Asana (our team project management platform). This results in issues being solved fast, and communication errors reduced.
4) Celebrate results, not progress.
Employees who churn on assignments and always seem to be making “progress,” but aren’t crossing items off their list, are NEVER going to be independent workers. That’s why you should celebrate, recognize, and promote employees who are out there getting s*** done. This will set the tone for the rest of the staff.
The transition from manager dependency to worker independence may take a chunk of your time to implement. But teaching employees how to answer their own questions, communicate effectively and make tangible progress will ultimately push your company forward in ways a single juggler could never accomplish alone.
And just think how nice it will be to walk into your office, sit down in at your desk, and enjoy getting straight to work on YOUR priorities while your employees charge on in confidence!