My son started Middle School recently. It has been a big transition for his mother and I, as much as it has for him. It doesn’t seem that long ago when he started kindergarten, and now he’s riding his bike off to 6th grade.
We had a lot to do in order to be prepared for “Back to School” week, including tossing out all the cool lunch boxes he’s now too cool for now, getting PE clothes, and decorating his new locker. We even rode to school and back twice over the weekend so he could practice crossing the big street and locking up his bike. He did great but his mother and I were very nervous as we let our baby take another step toward growing up and becoming the man he is meant to be.
Business owners are the same way with their baby. You’ve worked hard for years to care for and raise up a company that started from nothing, and is now full of new faces, new products and new markets. There can often be uneasy feelings as you move into a new level of growth, even to the point that it can stop you from moving as fast as you should, or moving at all.
Wise leaders (like wise parents), prepare their team for the challenges that lie ahead, they know when their baby is ready to handle the next level of growth, and they have learned to let go enough to see real growth occur.
How are YOU handling this today?
Raising a Healthy Team
Your children don’t become a functioning part of society on their own, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of investing in them to teach them what to do, how to deal with challenges, and how to behave in a manner that represents your family. Your business deserves no less of an effort. Your baby will not turn out to be a successful business without clear guidelines and expectations, and the training to enable your team to handle the challenges of the future.
Make time early in the growth of your business to build a Culture your team can live out each day. Set clear job descriptions and goals that are measurable and obtainable. Invest in your team so they have the skills, resources, and practice required to take your baby where you dream it will go. If you did not teach this from the beginning, it is still not too late. It may be harder after the team has grown up together, but it can be done and is essential if you plan to scale the business and pursue excellence in your company.
If your baby is not ready to move ahead, don’t do it! Too many companies take on more growth than they can handle and end up running out of cash, burning out their team, not delivering on what they promised, and losing customers forever. Set small goals, see the team succeed, then set bigger goals and watch them conquer those too. Take lots of baby-steps before you decide your team is ready to move up and take on the big boys.
Don’t Spoil Your Baby
We taught our son from an early age, what we believe and how he should act. We gave him opportunities to practice in the safety of our home, and then let him step out more and more as he showed he was able to handle things properly. However, he also had serious consequences when he did not do what he was supposed to.
Too many leaders get used to handling everything and have a hard time letting others learn for themselves. Your team needs the opportunity to try things on their own and have the chance to fail. This will teach them to take risks and responsibility for the their actions. However, you also need to hold them accountable to follow procedures, meet goals, and take the initiative to get things done without you telling them to do it. Accountability is key to allow you to delegate more.
You should be proud of your baby and let them know it often. Your team needs to be reassured that you see their efforts, you recognize the good results, and you are confident they can stay on course and get it done. Just because YOU don’t need a pat on the back, does not mean your team doesn’t. Let them see you believe in them and give them regular reminders that you are supporting them as they face the challenges ahead.
Get Support From Others
I’m 50 years old, and my Mom still calls and asks me how I’m doing in raising my son. She is certainly qualified to speak, having raised three boys into men. She challenges me on my attitude and reminds me of how I was as a child. She still offers good advice and ideas that I am using to help my son become the man he will be.
In the same way, you need to get input on how well you are letting your baby grow from others who have been down the road, and succeeded. Renaissance Executive Forum Members find great support, ideas, and accountability from others in their peer groups. These are monthly reminders that they are not alone in the process of raising up a team for success.
We also have a place for you to invest in the next leader of your company in our Key Executives Group. This group is for the second in command or the heir-apparent of the company. This allows you to invest in their leadership development as they learn and grow to be the leader you need them to be. If you have a leader you are grooming to take over someday, contact us today about our Key Executive program.
What’s been your biggest challenge in helping your team grow up and take on more responsibility? Bring this issue to our groups and lets find the solution. Call or email me at (469) 791 – 0455 and RobertH@REFDallas.com
ABOUT ROBERT HUNT
I am a Forum Leader and Business Partner for Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas. My role is to find the best members for our Executive Peer Groups, then lead each meeting so that our members become Raving Fans. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.