A guest post from my friend, Mike Gorman, whose recent book If I Sell You, I Have a Job. If I Serve You, I Create a Career! has filled a void in sales training for contractors who sell to homeowners.
Who helped you make sensible decisions when you started your new job, and how did they do it? If you were lucky enough to have a mentor you might recall those insider secrets you learned that shaved days, weeks or months off your learning curve. Mentoring is an arrangement in which one person—usually someone more experienced—helps another (the trainee) who is less experienced through example, guidance, support, help and feedback.
Mentoring offers the mentor:
- The development of leadership skills and managerial skills
- An opportunity to help others develop their careers
Mentoring offers the trainee:
- A sense of being valued by the company
- Access to someone who understands the company’s culture, personnel and ways of working.
- An objective, supportive, non-threatening source of support in developing new skills.
- In the early stages of the relationship the mentor needs to take the lead. Then the balance shifts as the trainee gains confidence and understanding.
Now this sounds good, but in reality if we haven’t been approaching things this way, we have may have some catching up to do with those people we have already hired. I found myself in the position of a fire fighter until I began empowering people to make good decisions. Here’s what worked for me with my existing labor force. Before they brought a problem to me, I asked them (some of whom had been around for years) to first work through the problem by asking themselves these four questions:
- What is the problem?
- What is the cause of the problem?
- What are all of the possible solutions?
- What is the best solution?
After they go thought these questions, I encouraged them to approach me to explain the problem and their recommended solution. Once they have done this four or five times, I usually could tell them they no longer need to ask me and can work through any future problems and act on their conclusions. The goal: “empower them to make decisions by proving to them that they are right time after time.”
When most of us start our companies, we take on every role. As we grow, we hire employees to help get the work done. But we may not have really learned to delegate any of the accountability or responsibility. Those we hire want to think, contribute ideas and play a meaningful role in the decisions that affect their work. As owners/managers we need to give employees the right tools and direction them let them go! This ‘letting go’ may be one of the most difficult lessons for to master.
If you can’t delegate responsibility, your company can only be as big as the number of hours in your day allows. The fastest way to get your company organized may be hire the best and give them the task of getting the work done.