I had a conversation with a small business owner (SBO) recently that went like this:
SBO: “I feel like I’m forever answering everyone’s questions rather than focusing on the business. It’s maddening.”
ME: “Tell me about the kinds of questions they ask.”
SBO: “It’s everything, from whether to give a customer a 5% discount for late delivery to where to place inventory in the stock room.”
ME: “Do they believe they have permission to make those decisions on their own?”
SBO: “They should be able to figure it out. It’s common sense.”
ME: “Your average employee stays about a year, right? At what point do you coach them on making decisions on their own and where the parameters are?”
SBO: “That’s the common sense thing. If they can’t figure that out, they shouldn’t be making those kind of decisions.”
ME: “So if they don’t figure that out, they spend the entire year asking you questions.”
SBO: “When you put it like that, it sounds like I’m the problem.”
ME: “You really have a choice. You can give them parameters when you first hire them and trust them to use their best judgment. Or you can let them figure it out over a series of months and ask you endless questions along the way.”
SBO: “So it’s a choice between control or having the time to do my other work.
ME: “Sort of. It’s really a choice between control and business success.
HOW ABOUT YOU?