Business owners are quite right to take pride in the teams that they built up over the years, but the reliance on those teams can often be covering up an issue in the business. Today I talk about what those issues are and how to spot them.
Why having a highly qualified and experienced team isn’t always a good thing
In many instances, I will say it is really good to have highly-experienced and qualified people, but quite often businesses use those employees in the wrong way. When this happens, it covers up issues in the business that then come out later on, and that’s what I want to cover.
If you think about it, a lot of the time, when there are really good people in the business, people who can use their initiative, who are really well trained, qualified and experienced, then that can be a great thing because it means that the business owner can step away from a lot of the minor or moderate decision making, and it means that the business owner can then work on the business itself. So that’s a really, really good thing. But, what often happens is, because you’ve got all these great people in the business, then the owner essentially doesn’t focus on the process. This is due to the fact that processes in a business really are far more beneficial to more junior members of staff. So, when you’ve got someone who’s been doing a certain activity in the business for years they can just do it in their sleep and it’s not written down anywhere, they don’t really have a structure to it, they just know the end result. They go and get it, that can seem like it’s beneficial, but what happens when that person’s not there? This is where it often goes wrong for business owners because they are so reliant on this one significant person, who they think will be there forever, because for some reason they’ve just assumed that person lives and breathes the business. But, let’s face it people have all got their own agendas, desires and goals, so you can’t rely on just one person.
Quite often, business owners do just rely on this handful of really good people who are also usually quite highly-paid. When those people go, there’s no underlying process where the next person, the replacement, can come in. They need to have someone who can come in, look at that process, and then get on with that job. So this creates a massive risk in a business. When you’ve got people like that, they’re either really highly paid (which is eroding the the margins and profits) you’re getting paid less, or they’re not getting paid enough, and that’s why they leave. And then, the next person you bring in at the same salary is probably not at their level. That’s the importance of perfecting your processes.
In general, if you use highly-qualified and experienced people in the right way, the way you should do it is not to do the day-to-day running of the business. When you’ve got people like that, who know the business inside out you can get them to do a ‘brain dump’ onto a piece of paper or any way to capture the way the way they consistently do an activity. You want them to be creating checklists, then following those checklists and processes themselves. And then, as soon as you can, you want them handing over those checklists and processes to a more junior member of staff. Then, they can supervise that member of staff. So, that’s how you effectively use a highly-qualified, trained and experienced person in your team. You get them to train other people, instead of getting them to do the day-to-day running of the business. One of the biggest tools of helping them train other people is your processes and your checklists.
I see a lot of businesses that are so reliant on these people, those employees leave, and those businesses are completely screwed, and often fail. Just by utilizing those people in the right way, working on the basis that they’re not going to be there forever, and to simplify and structure everything they do, you can really benefit from their experience in a way that will last a long time after they’ve gone.