Who’s leading your company? Most owners will answer that question by saying, “I am leading my company.” That’s technically correct, but every owner should have competent and dedicated managers and leaders. How can you as a business owner take advantage of the collective knowledge and experience in your management team to grow your business?
Evaluate and encourage
Evaluate your team members and identify the folks who have the right attitude and leadership qualities needed to move up in your company. Single out the most promising employees in each department.
Tell them there are bigger opportunities ahead for them if they meet your higher expectations. But don’t make promises. Just let them know the possibilities if they step up, improve their leadership skills and become more valuable to your company. Great coaches in all sports use this approach to build championship teams – you can, too.
Train and set expectations
Once you have identified your emerging leaders, challenge them to increase their participation in your company’s success. This is the first step in a series of moves that will strengthen your management team. Training and continuing education is a good test of the mettle of an emerging leader. Insist the employee enroll in training or educational programs corresponding to their areas of responsibility.
“Leadership training is important to me and my company,” says Adam Linnemann, president of Linnemann Lawn Care and Landscaping, Inc., Waterloo, Illinois. “It gives emerging team leaders more excitement and responsibilities. It shows them we truly do care about their future and develops them both personally and professionally.”
Share your scoreboard
Communicating business results to employees helps them understand how the company operates and their role in helping it prosper and grow. Ron Lester, president of Architerra, Inc., Vernon Hills, Illinois, follows the management principal he learned many years ago. Lester says organizations begin to share information on everything from cash flow, expenses and gross profit to sales goals, production rates and repeat business. Through this process, owners learn that numbers and measurements can only go so far. It’s when a visible scoreboard can be discussed, understood and brainstormed that people will begin to see why each element of business being measured is vitally important to them and the company. At this important point, says Lester, information becomes motivation and unleashes a company’s people power.
“Watching the score is part of the excitement of the game and a big part of the incentive,” says Lester about his open-book approach to running his company. But Architerra takes it to a higher level by displaying an electronic scoreboard prominently at its headquarters.
Review and communicate
Annual reviews are good, but 360 reviews are better. These reviews require managers to state what they accomplished during the year and forecast what they will accomplish the coming year. Managers who compose their own key performance indicators (KPIs) and reach agreement on them with their supervisors always perform better than managers who are given KPIs by their supervisors without committed buy-in.
Hire for attitude
Owners often make the mistake of valuing experience over a positive, can-do attitude. Look for attitude first in identifying new leaders; you can always train for job proficiency.
COVER PHOTO: CHIRSTIAN CHAN/ISTOCKPHOTO