I went to work for a commercial construction company when I was 22. I had little experience managing construction projects, and my first assignment was to manage about 20 small concrete dumpster pad installations for a giant retail chain. Thankfully, I was also given a process to follow.
For each new project, there was a questionnaire to fill out, a quote form to complete based on the answers, and a schedule that worked backward from the installation date.
My first month at that job was a huge success, not because of my skillset, but because of the process.
I went on to manage other projects in the first couple of years I worked there: over 70 build outs, over 250 remodel, and even launch the maintenance and repair division for the company.
I even got to build out a team and train others to do the work I was doing. It was a ton of work, but it was easily manageable because of the processes I created to manage the workload.
If you are like me, you are in a leadership position because of your desire (or maybe even your compulsion) to go first. You love to solve problems and make things happen. These are great attributes, but without processes, you will burn out.
Let’s talk about 4 ways processes free leaders.
Free the information that’s trapped in your head.
There is concept called unconscious competence. It describes the skills you possess which come so naturally you are unaware of the fact they are skills. In fact, many people falsely assume everyone else has these same skills.
While it’s important to put your skills to use, you are creating a trap for yourself if you are the only one who can perform a certain task.
Maybe you are really good at helping an angry customer and resolving conflict. If I watched you resolve your next five customer complaints, I would most likely notice you take the same steps in each situation even if you are unaware of these steps.
If you don’t take time to understand how you do something, you will never be able to train someone else to do it. You will become a bottleneck and feel trapped in your work.
Build a team of talented people.
I have a leadership adage I follow: If know how to do something well, you have a moral obligation to teach it to others.
I believe this because one of the signs of a great leader is their ability to help others grow. Building a process for others to follow is an effective way to teach others because it gives them something to refer to while they are learning. They are able to focus on what needs to be done while you work with them to understand why each step is necessary.
Teaching others creates more people who can do what you do, giving you more time.
Create more time through delegataion.
The ability and willingness to delegate separates a leader from a worker.
The more successful your business gets, the bigger the problems are, and the more work you have to do. That is, unless you learn to delegate.
While it’s scary to hand off responsibility to someone else, providing a process for your team to follow will give you peace of mind. You can rest assured your team knows what steps they need to take to do their job effectively.
And once you experience the freedom that comes from delegation, you will have more time and mental bandwidth to work on new challenges and opportunities.
Have time to build relationships.
Business is made up of people. If you neglect your people, you neglect your business.
Too many leaders are trapped in their tasks. They are too reactive. They take on too many problems. They grow resentful of others. They ask themselves why their team doesn’t care as much as they do. They grow tired and demanding. They become irritable, and without realizing it, they drive people away.
By understanding what they know, teaching others, and delegating responsibility to others, leaders will create the margin to build relationships with their employees. I am talking about creating a solid foundation of trust that only comes from listening and communicating with your team.
Leaders who demonstrate that they care and who build trust will create teams of people who work just as hard when they are out of the building as they do when they are in it.
Leaders who feel trapped are ineffective leaders. We believe in creating tools that free leaders, give them margin, and help them do what people do best: solve problems and serve others.
by Scott Reyes