How to Let Go
As you continue to grow larger and expand, there is one thing that will become glaringly clear: you can no longer work the way that you used to work. The larger your company or role grows, the fewer decisions you will be able to make. In order to grow properly and effectively, you need to master three key items. You need to have a good process in place, you need to empower your employees to make decisions, and you need to know what information you want to see and get from your team.
By implementing a good process, you can achieve consistency across the board. The process should be what is running the operations in your shop. It is all too common that a talented manager or owner jumps in to “fix” issues. You are not fixing anything; you are placing a Band-Aid on an issue by overcompensating for shortcomings. By having a good process, vehicles will flow properly and timely. A process will also help inexperienced or growing managers with their day to day because it eliminates so many decisions to be made. What needs to be managed are the processes and not so much the actual cars, parts, etc. Any mishap or speed bump will be easily identifiable after the processes are installed properly because the breakdowns will be glaringly clear.
The next mistake many leaders make is they don’t empower their employees to make decisions. There is a story I learned from my dad that taught me this lesson. He had just lost a big account because of poor decision making by an employee, and he decided no one would do any of the jobs as good as him. He began to check in every car, write every sheet, order and receive ever part, QC every car, call every customer, deliver every car, order all materials, open up, lock up. He was working all hours of the day and night, and he eventually got a chance with another large customer. He sat down in the meeting room to work with them on the details, and, all of a sudden, a body technician swung the door open. He said, “Hey, boss, we need some hand cleaner.” My dad responded, “Isn’t there anyone else here that can order you some hand cleaner?” The body man replied, “No, sir. You wanted to order everything.” Right there, it hit him. How big of a business can you run if you can’t let someone else order hand cleaner?
Our employees need to be empowered to make their own decisions, and we need to let them succeed and fail when doing so. Coach them when things happen and walk them through the decision and see what they come up with. Often, it will feel like you could have made the decision and moved on already, but you are investing time with them now so they can learn that you won’t have to spend later. You’ll start to see that if you hire smart people and let them run, then they normally make some pretty good, if not better, decisions.
Last, clearly identify with your leaders in what you want to be involved. Figure out what information you want to know about, and make sure your team knows that is important to you, so it should be important to them as well. Everyone is different; with me, I want to be involved with employees, customers, and quality. I want to know everything involved with those three items. I want to know if employees are not getting along or I want to know if two people really enjoy working with each other. I want to know if a customer dropped off cookies for our staff or if they said they weren’t treated right. Everything else is in the shop is important, but it’s important for my team to know. Identify what things you’d like to be communicated with you, and ask questions once you get the information. You’ll notice you’ll get a clearer vision of your business this way because all the other small noise is being filtered out by the team that you trust.
Growing is hard, and so is letting go. But, if you work with your team and manage your team instead of your shops, you will be able to effect so much more. If we implement good, clear processes, empower our employees to make good decisions, and know what information we want pushed to us, then we will be able to grow effectively. If we continue to overcompensate for bad processes, micromanage, and not focus on what’s important, then one location may succeed for a short period but we will never be able to grow.