For most entrepreneurs, handing the reins of their business over to others is akin to leaving their children with a new babysitter. Placing trust in others, even employees at a very high level, can be a challenge as some business owners doubt whether the individual is truly taking the company’s best interests to heart.
Although difficult, in order for a business to succeed, it is essential to have a strong management team in place and have tools to track their performance.
Get it right from the start: While any recruitment process will never be 100% accurate, increase your chance of success by doing detailed interviews, preferably accompanied by someone who knows you, your business, and who can provide a different perspective. Perform background checks such as verifying education/professional designations, criminal records and references from past employers.
Set clear expectations: Many people feel that a new manager should know what needs to be done. While you may feel that your expectations are reasonable, expectations do differ greatly from one company to the next. It is important to meet the new manager frequently until you learn how to work together. Be specific as to what actions you wish them to take (e.g. instead of “I want you to communicate well with clients”, say “I want you to communicate with the client at the beginning of each project and then at least once a week until the project is complete”). They should also be given general guidelines as to which decisions they can make on their own, and those for which they will need authorization.
Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals: Ensure that goals are clear and follow-up on them regularly. Any objective set should be S.M.A.R.T.:
- Set in Time
Getting the Manager involved in setting objectives and deciding on the plan of action is the best way to ensure that it will be accomplished.
Get a different perspective: 360 Evaluations can be useful. While typically completed by colleagues and subordinates, evaluators can also include suppliers or clients. Although 360s measure people’s perceptions (and not necessarily reality), you can discover behaviour that you were not necessarily witnessing yourself. Other data such as high turnover or absenteeism can also point to an issue with the department’s manager.
Act as a coach: While more time-consuming, another tool used to evaluate executives is observation, such as occasionally attending a sales call, client meeting or even team meetings. You will be able to get a better idea of how the individual performs in the field and coach them to ensure the company is represented the way you want it to be.
Use their expertise: You chose this individual for the job as you felt they had something important to contribute. Make sure to allow sufficient leeway so that they can add value. If you’re continuously micro-managing they will never gain the confidence to make decisions on their own. Accept that there are many different paths to get the same results.
Allow them to learn from their mistakes: No matter how much you coach someone, sometimes it takes falling flat on your face to gain a life lesson. When mistakes happen take the time to meet the manager to assess the situation and ensure that they were able to learn from the experience.
Investigate: Unfortunately sometimes those that have already gained your trust and are those who can hide any fraudulent activity well. If you have doubts as to someone’s competency or honesty, consider hiring an outside professional to review current practices. Never hesitate to dig deeper into a situation that doesn’t seem right.
HR Connection – Fall 2014