What drives you crazy about managing your company? Is it trying to get paid, dealing with customers, having to cut your prices, scheduling workers, or making sure everything is done right? My guess is that dealing with employees is what keeps you up at night. You worry about getting them to be accountable, mistake-free, safe, customer friendly, and do what you expect them to do.
Your ongoing challenge is to develop disciplined, results-oriented, responsible employees. You struggle with getting them to show up on time, care about quality, be productive, and improve your bottom line. I often get this question when I speak at conventions: "I'm just a small company. How can I get my employees to do what I want them to do? An employee mistake can cost me everything, so I can't let my people make any big decisions." To overcome this accountability and responsibility problem, consider these three challenges:
Do you chase wheelbarrows?
I was visiting a construction jobsite and noticed one of our long-time laborers cleaning the slab. He swept trash into his shovel and then walked about 100 yards to the trash bin. He repeated this for several minutes until I finally stopped and asked: "Where's your wheelbarrow?" He said his boss didn't give him one. I then asked if a wheelbarrow would make the job go faster. He said yes, but his boss had not given him one to use that day.
I looked for the foreman and superintendent to no avail. So I went to the storage bin, unlocked it and got a wheelbarrow for the laborer to use. I solved the problem, or did I? Have you ever fixed something yourself but not addressed the bigger issue? The real problem was that the laborer was not trusted or given responsibility to think, make decisions, choose the right tools, or be responsible to achieve results. He wasn't accountable for anything.
Are you a firefighter?
Do you ever feel like a firefighter running from one fire to another with a garden hose trying to put out everyone else's fires? Do you do work all day doing your employees' jobs and then work all night doing yours? Your employees can handle more responsibility, you just don't give it to them. In a recent poll of field employees 66 percent were asked to make decisions, but only 14 percent felt empowered and trusted to make decisions. They were afraid their boss would yell at them for mistakes. Therefore, employees didn't take on more than they had to. The root of most people problems is the boss, not the employee.
Who owns the problem?
When the boss owns every problem, only they can solve it correctly. When you solve other people's problems, they rely on you to solve all their problems. When people aren't responsible for anything, how can they be responsible for solutions? Do your employees rely on you to solve their problems? When you solve employees' problems, they can't grow and improve. When you treat employees like children who can't think, they act like children and only do what they've been told to do. It's your job to train your employees and make them responsible. You have to let go to grow.
You can't do it all yourself
Successful business owners quickly realize they can't do it all themselves and need empowered people they can trust if they want to grow. The number one reason employees don't accept accountability or responsibility is that they don't know exactly what you want them to do. The number two reason is because their boss doesn't trust them.