The goal is for employees to work independently and complete tasks. The opportunity to parallel task, using more people to get more done in less time, is one of the primary benefits to growing the team. For many small business owners, myself included, the idea of hiring first comes about when you simply need to multiply yourself. After all, there’s only so much you can do in 24 hours. Of course acquiring talent beyond one’s own ability is another top benefit to hiring. But that’s another discussion all together.
So let’s focus on the goal. To create an environment where employees complete tasks on their own, thus freeing you, the owner or manager, to do other things. But what happens when an employee requires more of your time than you’d like?
I believe there are four distinct reasons as to why an employee might require more management than you expect or desire. Let’s look briefly at each of the four.
Lack of Ability
Sometimes the employee simply doesn’t yet have all the tools and know how to do it on their own. Perhaps they are new or need more training. In that case, you’ve probably made the mistake of giving them tasks they aren’t ready for. Spend some time on training and get them up to speed. If they have been given adequate time and training and they still struggle, get stuck or need extra assistance then it’s probably time to let them go and find someone who’s a better fit.
Lack of Thoroughness
Does the employee complete a task, but you continue to notice mistakes that need correcting, or things they simply missed? That can be frustrating. Again, if they’re new it might be okay that they don’t have it down perfectly yet. But it’s definitely a problem if they deliver a “finished” product to you or worse yet, the customer, when it’s not complete or done incorrectly. Most importantly, the employee needs to made aware of the situation so they can truly assess the done-ness of a job before declaring it complete and making the company look bad.
Lack of Confidence
Sometimes you have a great employee who completes tasks and does them well, but still requires your attention or asks for you to review or approve everything they do. This can be an unnecessary drain on your time as well. It’s a good problem to have, especially compared to the previous two scenarios. In this case, take the time to review their work and provide positive feedback that assures them they are being successful and that you trust their work.
Lack of Empowerment
Similar to the previous scenario, the employee does good work, but constantly looks for approval. It may be a lack of confidence on their part, or it may be something you’re doing wrong. Giving up control is tough for some people. Trust me, I know. Are you micromanaging your team to the point where they feel compelled to gain approval before considering a task complete? Oversight is important with new employees. But there comes a point when they should be both capable and empowered to do their job without continuous input or approval.
Evaluate your team and consider where improvements can be made, both on their part and yours. And remember that for most small companies, at least part of the goal is to improve efficiency by hiring competent people, giving them the training they need and relying on them to perform.