One of the core tenets of scaling a business is to spend more time working ON it (meaning focusing on strategic activities that drive growth) and less time IN it. This can be incredibly challenging for execs that are really competent and may feel more comfortable with tactical work, or for those of us (and I’ll raise my hand here) who are type-A control freaks and figure it’s just faster and easier to do everything yourself. Unfortunately, both of these behaviors can present significant barriers to growth.
This short article from Harvard Business Review outlines 4 quick behavioral changes that will help you insert some control over your environment and give you the breathing room you need to focus ON, not IN.
1. Mentor in Hindsight
If you want to protect your time and grow a team of decision makers, don’t discount mentoring… in hindsight. How to go about it? The first question I ask when a direct report asks me what they should do is, “what do you think you should do?” I find they generally know the answer, and as a result, become more confident with their own decision making. The same goes for reviewing written work. If I’m a paragraph into reviewing a document and find an error, I stop, send it back and ask the author to take another look, giving direct feedback only when they can’t identify the issue.
2. Create Boundaries for Decision-Making
It can be challenging for employees to understand the types of decisions an executive needs to be involved in, vs those they can handle on their own.
3. Have Regular Meetings
Particularly in today’s open work environments an “open door policy” can literally mean no door at all… making focused work challenging. I set weekly “huddles” with the teams I regularly interact with and SCHEDULE one-to-one conversations as needed. If you struggle with making team meet-ups productive, give Cameron Herald’s book, “Meetings Suck,” a read.
4. Be Available Less Often
This can be painful for those of us who are used to being “always on.” Making yourself less available means your team will be challenged to trust their own judgement, rather than always relying on to you participate in tactical decision making.
What are some field-tested strategies you use to protect your time and empower your team? Comment below!