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The Hands Off CEO

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How can I hold staff accountable?

Recently I had a call with a man who owns a successful multi-million dollar business. Their services were in a high demand, and the owner was such an exceptional rainmaker that they could barely keep up with demand.

He was looking for my help to ‘hold his employees accountable.’ He tried everything, but nothing had worked. He named off some reputable consultants and programs.

His employees did a good job– when he was around.

But when he was traveling to conferences or their other locations, he claimed they became “lazy.”

They wouldn’t follow procedures, the office became a mess, and ultimately there wasn’t the bandwidth to continue growing. His thumb was on everything, and he already worked over 60 hours a week.

He asked me what he should do. After he kept talking over me, and rejected anything I said, I politely ended the call.

During our brief chatl, I could see exactly what was happening in his business. And why his team were acting “lazy and unmotivated.”

The owner was hardworking, but he wouldn’t take responsibility. Instead he blamed everyone else, and the team didn’t respect him.

They probably couldn’t stand him. They had little motivation to help him grow the business. And even though he paid them well, most jumped ship after about about a year.

Dictatorships creates results. But only short-term, and when authority is watching.

Self-motivation and accountability is created by leading your team to want to do their best work.

“There is only one way… to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.” –Dale Carnegie.

His classic book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ is a timeless guide for empowering others.

Below is how my clients use this principle to get better results, with less effort:

  1. Train them to be resourceful, not dependent. Empower your staff by giving them what they need to make appropriate decisions on their own. Instead of solving the problem, ask “What do you think we should do?”
  2. Give them room to fail. Create a culture where “mistakes make us better” so that employees aren’t afraid to act now, and it’s ok to make the wrong call once is a while.
  3. Give them a roadmap for making decisions. To make decisions inline with the goals of the company, they need a guide to refer to. Ensure that expensive mistakes are prevented by making it known what errors are absolutely unacceptable. That way they have room to learn without costing your reputation, or a lot of money.
  4. Share the same scorecard. Communicate what is expected, and have it documented it so that everyone is going by the same scorecard. Then your employees know when they are doing a good job, and when they need to step-it-up. Studies show this is the biggest frustration of employees is knowing if they are doing a good job. Lowering their stress leads to happier, more productive employees.

When you follow those steps, you will get better work from your staff, with less direction from you. It’s also clearer when your people are really the problem. Or, (gasp) when you or your systems might be the breakdown.

If you are perpetually in a state of busy-ness you’ll never get this far. And your business can’t grow much past your own two eyes, and two hands.

A Hands-Off CEO, makes conscious decisions everyday about what you WILL, and will NOT do in your business. Your actions communicate the message louder than anything you ever say.

When you jump in and solve problems that they should be capable of doing, what you are really saying is…
“I don’t think you are up to the task.”

You get to be the hero. But does that create empowered staff, or employees that need babysitting?

Learn this phase: “Bring me solutions, not problems.”

Don’t buckle when they test you. They will.

Create a culture of accountability and responsibility. Then you don’t need to micromanage. And your employees may just love the opportunity to contribute more!

If you own a growing, established business and you want my help empowering your team to do more so that you can keep growing the business, or if are preparing for a more profitable exit, apply for a complimentary Scalable Growth Diagnostic Session with me.

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