Tell me how that goes

In a recent session, a client of mine told me about a breakthrough he had in how he runs his business. An employee came to him with an issue and a solution for how to address it. My client listened to the idea, made a couple comments on how to execute, and ended the conversation with “Great, tell me how that goes.”

This may sound like a fairly benign conversation (and maybe a bit of a sarcastic remark at the end), but it represented a big deal for this particular client. This guy was a micromanager to the core. He was constantly engaged in every aspect of the business. As the owner of an HVAC company who learned the business and built the company by turning a wrench, it was hard for him to let any detail go without his input or involvement. He was at the very center of every decision made in the business. . . and many of the actions as well. In this case, he got out of the way and trusted his employee to make a good decision and implement the action. His “tell me how that goes” comment was his way of saying “I trust you to get this done. Come back to me with the results.” In this conversation, he acted as the owner of the company.

I talk with clients quite a bit about the Three Eyes of a Business Owner, as coined by Michael Gerber in The E-Myth Revisited. Gerber states that business owners "see" their companies (and their roles) through three different sets of eyes: The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician. In the Entrepreneur’s Eye, the owner is focused on the future, on the Vision of the company. She is setting the course and boundaries for the organization, informing on values, strategy, asking “What if” questions about the business. In seeing her business through the Entrepreneur’s Eye, she is acting in a true leadership role. The Manager’s Eye is about evaluation and examination. When seeing her business through Manager’s Eye, an owner is looking at past results in order to improve those results in the future. She is studying the actions that have been taken, making decisions on how to move forward based on the results, and directing the team accordingly. She is focused on improvement, asking “How could we” questions. The Technician’s Eye is where too many owners spend too much time. She is focused on the details, the minutiae of the business. She is in the weeds, doing the day to day work and tasks, and she would be better off delegating those tasks to her employees.

So how much time should you, as the owner, spend in each eye? This is when the 80/20 rule comes into effect. Ideally, you should spend 80% of your time in the entrepreneur and manager roles, seeing the big picture, making the big decisions, delegating the tasks needed to implement those decisions, and evaluating the results. Do your best to stay out of the weeds and away from the day to day tasks required to keep the business running; you have people for that. Of course, there are times when you need to dive into the details in order to get things done, help relieve pressure when things are especially busy, or simply to stay connected to the daily operations and the people who execute it. If you set things up the right way, these should be scheduled activities; walking the floor, chatting with employees, ride-alongs or pop-ins with your people in the field, dropping in on key customers to thank them for their business. The key is to avoid the bad habit of constantly involving yourself in those activities. Your time is valuable, and it is better spent on big ideas, not little details.

I get it. This is not an overnight process. If you are constantly in the weeds, there are (hopefully) factors that are keeping you there. Staying in the eyes of the Entrepreneur and Manager requires revenue, resources, good processes, and the right team. It takes time to build. You need to identify where your time is best spent, and what activities you need to do that are most crucial to the business. From there, you need to build and empower a team that can focus on everything else that needs to get done and set up processes designed to keep things on track and keep people pointed in the right direction. If you are not at a point in the business where this is a realistic expectation, set goals that will get you to that point, and work to achieve it.

You need the revenue, the people and the process in order to stay focused on the Entrepreneur and Manager eyes, but more than anything else, you need to commit to it. You, as the owner, need to fully accept your crucial role as the leader of the company and have the discipline to stay in that role. Build toward the goal of the 80/20 rule, then work hard not to fall into the old habits of diving into the weeds. Establish your plan to pull yourself out of the day to day and set yourself up as the Entrepreneur and the Manager. And when you get there, tell me how that goes. . . .

If you want to set that plan, and feel that having someone there to set it with you— and walk with you on the path to achieving it— would be beneficial, let’s have a conversation. I work with clients and teams every day to set that process and build toward that goal, and I would love to talk to you about doing the same in your business. Leave a comment below, message me directly, or click here to schedule a phone call, and let’s talk about you, your business, and your goals!

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