More often than not, business owners think that engaging a key manager or small management team will solve all their problems, make the business run smoother and give them back some precious time and capacity. For most, however, this is not the reality. In fact, it can make achieving a work-life balance more challenging. This is because most business owners neglect to ensure that the following critical factors are in place before bringing on board a new manager or management team:
- That the business is set up in a way that will guarantee the success of its managers.
- That they are mentally ready to have another leader in the business.
For a business to be ready for a manager or management team, it needs to have a management system or operating structure in place to enable a new hire to ‘slot in’ and easily understand how to perform their role and what is expected of them.
To address the above critical factors, a business must have the following in place:
- A company structure or organisational chart. This should depict all divisions, roles, reporting lines, workflows and responsibilities. In essence, there needs to be an overarching system in place that the business follows to get the work done.
- Thorough documentation of all key responsibilities. This can be accomplished via policies, procedures, checklists, forms, etc. They must be written so anyone can follow the instructions and perform the roles effectively.
- High-level policies outlining standards and expectations. These policies will allow managers to better understand how they can meet the requirements of the business and its clients.
- A formal procedure to execute your strategic direction in the business. This would include strategy sessions with your management team, a systemised way to achieve the set goals, a clear allocation of goals aligned with the various ‘hats’ being worn by certain team members within the business, and a way to hold the team accountable. After all, managers are responsible for ensuring the necessary work is done to achieve the business’s goals. Most business owners never articulate their strategic direction with their team let alone have a plan to achieve it.
Once you have these practices in place, there is one more thing that you should consider: that management might not be your forte as the CEO/founder. For tips on how to accept this and overcome any associated challenges, refer to my article, Why founders aren’t great managers.
Once you have acknowledged this, you need to work on your management skills so you can effectively lead and manage your managers. Many business owners bring on a manager or management team and expect them to know what to do without guidance. This never works. You will still need to manage, albeit differently. Some business owners assume they can delegate the establishment of the business’ infrastructure to a new manager or management team. I strongly advise against doing that because most managers thrive in structured and organised environments. Furthermore, it will be difficult to find an entrepreneurial manager with the expertise to create the systems and processes for you, particularly if you have not given them a framework to work within.
Only after your business has the required infrastructure in place and you feel ready to be an effective leader to another leader is it time to consider bringing on a manager or management team.
Tips for hiring and inducting the right manager for your business
With the right foundation in place, you are ready to seek, hire and induct your new manager. Here are my tips for doing this effectively:
- Be clear on the responsibilities of the role. This is where having a clear company structure pays off.
- Write the job ad focusing first on attracting the right work-culture fit, then on productivity, and lastly on skills, qualifications and experience.
- Use a screening tool, like the Being Profile®, to get a true picture of the applicant. People are good at putting their best foot forward, so interviews rarely tell us everything we need to know about a person.
- Once hired, ensure that the manager is properly inducted into the business. Ensure you give them all the business policies and procedures and take the time to outline your expectations clearly, in line with their responsibilities.
- Provide the new manager with comprehensive training. While they may be excellent at what they do, they need to know how you want things done. This is where great policy comes into play.
- Hold regular management meetings to delegate work and hold them accountable.
- Lastly, do not take your finger off the pulse. Just because you have a manager or management team does not mean you can completely step away and never check what is happening in their division. This is where things can go very wrong. Business owners hire managers and then wash their hands of that area of the business, only to have things fall apart because their expectations weren’t clear and they weren’t checking on the quality of their work.
It may seem like a lot to do when you’re trying to reduce your workload and improve your work-life balance. But in my experience working with business owners, investing the time to establish a strong foundation before hiring a manager or management team will pay off in the long term and help you avoid costly mistakes in the short term.
If you want to get the right team in place but the above sounds complicated, or you would like some help getting started, reach out to me for a chat at firstname.lastname@example.org. I help clients navigate this process on a daily basis and have worked with businesses that started with only the owner and one staff member and expanded to seventy staff within four years. With the right structures and guidance, success is more than possible.