Following on from my last blog, the BB team have asked me for my thoughts on the importance of trusting your team and giving them autonomy.
This is a really interesting one, particularly in an owner-managed environment. We have all been to training courses over the years where we are told that you need to empower your team, don’t micro-manage and allow them to learn by making mistakes. In reality, it is one of the hardest things to do as an owner-manager, a skill I took for granted in the corporate world is much harder to deliver in your own business. Of course, in the early days, it might just be yourself or for me, a few people who knew each other really well and you can see and touch almost every aspect of your business but this is not sustainable as you grow. I look back and for the first few years, I was sales director, HR director, finance director, IT director, marketing director, legal director, coffee maker, cleaner and everything else that needed doing. I would know everything that was going on with our business – I met every potential employee, knew every role we were working on, was involved in every decision and by default you find yourself in the detail, micro-managing everything and going against every instinct in your body to give people the space and autonomy to do their jobs.
As you grow this period has to change and actually, you recognise there are people a lot better and more skilled than you at almost every aspect of your job. The business will ultimately stagnate and be one dimensional if every element runs through one person and for me, I know the people around me are way better at all aspects of my role so why wouldn’t I give them the autonomy they need to be the best they can be?
As you would expect I have interviewed hundreds of people in my career and we have all been asked that infamous question at the end of the interview many times – “What do you look for in a person?”
I have always answered the same, trust.
If I can trust someone and they can trust me and their colleagues then our working relationship will be great and ultimately we will give each other the space to do our jobs to the very best of our abilities without getting in each other’s way. I firmly believe at BB our people trust each other and know they can rely on them to provide the best service to our customers delivered with integrity and success. Trust creates an environment that allows autonomy and should be built and nurtured in every organisation.
I recently received some feedback from a leaver who was one of our very best people and for me, this summarises this a lot better than what I have said above. It would be unfair to share it all but I am sure they won’t mind me sharing the final sentence: “I have no doubt your role must be extremely challenging at times, but this is the impact your decision to set up Broster Buchanan has on those who join and thrive in the business”
For me, this says a lot that whilst as an owner-manager of course your role can be very challenging and it can be tempting to be involved in everything you have to give people the autonomy to do their jobs so they thrive and ultimately the business does the same.