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Small business promotion with retail speaker Tom Shay
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Sharing Management Skills With Employees

You cannot do all of it yourself

As an owner or manager there are numerous decisions you are called upon to make each and every day. They often involve a customer who has a special need or complaint, an employee having a problem with fulfilling an assigned work schedule, or perhaps a problem with getting something completed as the customer is expecting.

As manager or owner, you gather the necessary information, and then make a decision. For the owner or manager who has decided to invest in themselves and their business by attending a trade show or educational event, you are often doing so at a time while your business is open. By leaving the business, you do so knowing that there is a strong chance that one of these situations will occur in your absence.

Instead of being able to fully concentrate on the event you are attending, the cell phone number has been given to your staff along with instructions to "call if you need anything." And with that instruction, you have employees who will do just that: call to ask just about anything they need to know.

Wouldn't it be great to be able to just let go of the business; even for a couple of hours? There are of course, businesses where the owner or manager has walked out the door with a simple, "I will see you next week. I will call just to check in".

For the majority of businesses that are fortunate to be in this position, they have worked very hard to be able to enjoy this. Surely, there are numerous ways for an owner or manager to go from having supervisors that are totally dependent on their manager, to becoming those that are dependable.

The success often begins in the hiring process.  Many managers and owners reserve this task for themselves. However, the experience of this writer was that the best person to select a new team member, is often the current team member that is doing the best job with that particular task. This would mean that your best salesperson should be interviewing prospective salespeople. If you have someone that is your cashier and handles paperwork, they would likely be the best one to hire another person for this job.

Too often, as the owner or manager we are overly anxious to get someone hired to fill a vacancy. This happens because we frequently have to perform that duty in addition to the duties we are already performing. As we find ourselves getting further behind with our work, we become desperate and hiring most anyone to fill the position.

Allowing our best staff members to do the hiring makes sense for several reasons. The first is that our best staff members are not desperate to select a new employee. Another is that in making the selection, they will want to look good in the eyes of their manager or owner. And a third reason is they want to find someone that displays the same work ethics and talents that they do.

When the time came that we presented an individual with the title of supervisor,  they were given a job description that was different from the one they previously had. The new description carried the responsibility of supervising staff and making decisions in our absence.

We told our staff that when both the supervisor and ourselves were in the building, the supervisor was to make all of the management decisions. All of the situations we described in the beginning of this article were now the responsibility of the supervisor. When the supervisor was off, then all of these decisions fell back on our shoulders.

What did this teach us? It allowed us the opportunity to see our supervisor in action. And as each situation presented itself, we observed. With most of the initial occurrences we asked the supervisor what was the criteria they used in making their decision. We would follow up with questions, asking if certain items had been taken into consideration.

Listening to the responses, the one statement we made sure to never say was, "If it had been me, I would have ..." Telling this to an supervisor is like telling them how you want them to become more like you. Hopefully, you did not hire this, or any other employee, to be a duplicate of yourself. Most of the successful managers and owners state they are hiring individuals to take advantage of the talents that an employee brings to their business; talents which the owner or manager does not possess, but would increase the profitability of the business.

With regard to allowing other people to make a decision in our business, we reasoned that if we had trusted them with a key to the door of our business - which meant they had the key to several hundreds of thousand of dollars of inventory - then we thought we could trust them to make a decision which would have a dollar value that would be a lot less.

By having that supervisor make decisions while we were in the building, we knew we could expect they would perform in a similar manner when we were not in the building. Developing trust in this manner usually causes a really neat turn of events to occur. Knowing that they are trusted, the supervisor makes a point to demonstrate that the entrusted responsibilities are well deserved. And with that happening, you can spend more of your time doing things a manager or owner wants to do and should be doing; attending the trade show to learn, buy, and have a bit of time to yourself.

Include these techniques with your management style and you will find yourself with a different amount of time being asked of you by your business. Why not try controlling your business instead of letting it control you?


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: www.profitsplus.org


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