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Edition 140 – Who’s Looking up to You?

If you bemoan the fact your staff aren’t doing what you want them to do, or aren’t capable of doing what you’d like them to do, ask yourself this simple question:

  1. What time am I investing in my team to show them how to do what I want them to do?

So many business owners resort to their technical toolkit and fill the day with appointments or client work or site visits to, well, fill the day. It’s the way the work gets done and the bills get paid, or so I’m told.

However, very few of these same family business owners dedicate time to mentoring their staff or the leaders in their business so they are more proficient at their work.

Let me relay a couple of recent experiences amongst my family business clients and what spending a little bit of time mentoring has lead to.

One client in the professional services space has a full book. One of his employees has excess capacity. We recently talked about offloading some of his workload by re-scheduling some of his appointments into the employee’s book, then him shadowing her in those re-scheduled appointments. Ironically, when the idea came up, he admitted that in some recent “shadow” appointments, he’d helped his employee improve their analytical technique and identify client issues that may have previously gone undetected.

So, in this instance, if it works in a one off situation, imagine the impact of something more structured and locked into the diary regularly?

Another client, in a trades based business, had expressed displeasure about the performance of some of his staff. “Why can’t they get it?” I’ve heard him ask from time to time.

“Maybe they haven’t been immersed in the XYZ way of doing things” was my reply. Not “shown” – “immersed”.

A couple of weeks after this conversation, this family business was required on site to do a short, yet important job, over a weekend. The owner of this family business made the call to be on site to show some of the staff how what needed to be done, was done the XYZ way.

A funny thing happened when the owner of this business invested in his staff in this way – the penny dropped for the staff not just in terms of how something had to be done, but why it was done the way it was done.

By being immersed in the job and having the key skill set on site walking them through the process, the staff picked up unbelievably quickly what had to be done.

As owners and managers of family businesses, we’re good at issuing instructions. However, most owners and managers are simply awful at mentoring.

In my opinion, you need to spend time with your people almost daily showing them how to do what you do and why you do it that way. Sometimes it’s an hour. Other times it’s ten minutes. The quantum doesn’t matter – the commitment to and regularity of mentoring does.

This Week’s Tip

“It is the “why” that builds knowledge and skills. Anyone can be shown how to do it but if they don’t understand why, it’s a pointless exercise.”