Small business promotion with retail speaker Tom Shay
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So, what is 'it'?

Defining you and your staff for your business

"The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Dr. Stephen Covey talks about the word "it". He uses "it" in conjunction with his definition of people that are workers, managers, leaders. You may have someone whose title is manager, another person that you recognize as a leader, and perhaps a larger group which you would consider workers.

That is not quite how Covey defines these three titles. As we explain his definitions, and see how they can relate to your business, perhaps we can provide you with some ideas of how you can maximize your staff and yourself. Covey explains that there is always an "it". There is an activity that goes with "it". We sell it, we do it, we build it, we find it, and we make it work.

As we go about "it", we will always find somebody that does "it". These are the people within our business who have been assigned the task. It could range from checking in merchandise to answering the phone. With many businesses, these are the people that stand ready to follow your instructions, and upon completion of the task, stand ready again to perform another task. Regardless of how you title these people, these are the ones Covey refers to as workers.

The second person in the trio of "it" is one who is making sure all of the workers are getting "it" done. We refer to this person as a manager, assistant manager, or supervisor. In businesses without titles, the position may be referred to as the person who has the keys to the front or back door.

Of course, being the taskmaster of the workers can range from a simple job to a very complex and intense job. The variance will come based upon the quality of skills that the manager has been able to share with the workers. With the business relationship of workers and managers, many times the comment is made that a particular manager is lucky to have good workers. Actually, the more skilled and knowledgeable a manager is, the better the quality of workers that are created. And the better the manager is, the more frequently a quality worker will apply for the job opening.

The third person in our business dealing with "it", is the leader. Covey says the task of the leader is to define "it". And, this is where the thrust of our definition of "it" will be discussed. From years of our working with businesses, the biggest opportunity before the owner (leader) each day is to become a leader as compared to being a manager or a worker.

The comment most frequently made is that the day is spent simply managing the business. When an opportunity presents itself, the leader is so busy being a manager that the opportunity passes them by, or the leader does not have the time to examine the opportunity.

If you are always running around your business putting out fires, the odds are that you are the one carrying the matches. Too many ‘leaders’ are actually managers that are running around putting out fires.

The saying may be applicable, but what really matters is if you can move to the point where you are more of a leader than a manager.

In your business your manager is paid more than a worker, right? And as the leader, your business pays you more than it pays the manager, doesn't it? This is usually the norm for businesses as a leader is more valuable than a manager, who in turn is more valuable than a worker. If however, as the leader you are doing the tasks of the manager, or worse yet the tasks of the worker, you are both paying too much to get the job done and underutilizing the abilities of the leader.

The first step in redirecting your time to allow you to lead, is to step back and allow workers the opportunity to display their skills and knowledge. If you say that these workers do not have the necessary skills and knowledge, then most definitely the first thing you need to be doing is creating a "school" for your workers so they can learn these tasks. With a school, you invite them to think and participate in the business.

The hardest part that you have to expect and accept, is that workers are going to have ideas that are different from yours. As the leaders, we have to accept that we are not going to have all of the original and great ideas. It is the exposure to ideas, and your experience as a leader, that can allow you to permit your workers to excel.

The leaders that we first spoke of; the ones that had the best workers and managers, are those leaders who have allowed others to do "it", and see that "it" gets done without having to always be in the middle of "it" all of the time.

Like a ship in the ocean, your business needs you to take the time to be up in that basket (the crow's nest) on the tallest mast, so that you can see "it", understand "it", decide where "it" is, and know what "it" is.

Tom Shay is a fourth generation small business owner providing proven management and business building ideas through his Profits Plus Seminars, Profits Plus Solutions coaching, books authored, and articles written. Tom can be reached at 727-464-2182 or through his web site:

Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.
PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
Fax: (727) 898-3179