Jim began his business as owner and only employee. With persistence and good fortune, he expanded from his kitchen table to his basement, to his garage and on to a large rented building. As his client list increased, he added employees, expanded shipping and implemented new innovations to grow his business.
Jim’s desk was in the center of the production floor where he could be involved in every aspect of his “baby”. It was exhilarating and all-consuming. After hours he waded through the work he hadn’t gotten to during the day. While the business was small, his management style worked, but as all the aspects of his business became more complex, he began to wonder if there were more efficient and effective methods to run his company. His staff were taking wonderful vacations to exotic places and he was still putting in seventy hour weeks. His health and family life were becoming causalities to his success.
Jim decided to step back and look for help in changing his management style. He found a coach who encouraged him to join a roundtable comprised of other business owners.
Through those monthly meetings learned that he could trust his key employees to do their jobs.
Together Jim and his key staff evaluated his company using the following method:
- Identified the basic processes in his company. They were:
- Human Resources (Searching, hiring, training, managing, reviewing, retaining and firing people)
- Marketing (Capturing the interest of new customers, branding, getting their message out)
- Sales (Converting prospects to customers)
- Production (Producing product, workflow, quality control, shipping, receiving, customer satisfaction)
- Accounting (Managing the flow of money in and out of the business)
- Customer Service (Creating loyal customers)
- Created a documented, step-by-step procedure for each area. This step was critical. Up to this point each person had done things their own way with little or no consistency. The procedures put everyone on the same page.
- Assigned accountability. Jim could no longer be everything to everyone; he had to be the conductor who made sure all processes in the company were run according to the procedure. Each process had a key staff member who would be responsible for that area.
- Created measures for success. The board helped Jim realize that if it wasn’t measured, it didn’t matter; goals were set in each area, clear metrics that the team could work toward.
Finally it was time to roll out the program. Jim held a company-wide meeting and explained how the new system would work, what would be measured and who was accountable. He explained that individual effort was critical in achieving the goals of the company and that he hoped everyone would work hard and reap the rewards that building in a more successful company would bring.
Did it work? Jim and his staff are on a journey and there have been bumps in the road. Two long-term employees left because the pressure of being accountable was too much. A few mistakes were made and processes weren’t followed, but they soon got back on track.
Jim learned he didn’t have to be involved in every decision in every department every day. Other people could and did make great decisions when given information, processes and goals. He also discovered that weekly update meetings are essential to keeping everyone informed and working together.
By the way, Jim and his family recently took their first two-week family vacation and the business didn’t fold while he was gone. Life is much better in Jim’s world these days.