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The Ultimate Guide: How To Create High Performance Successors

business entrepreneurship productivity strategy time management Aug 05, 2021
Business Is Simple, Not Easy

 “To Encourage Parish Leaders to Think Creatively, Act Courageously, and Renew The Church.”

This is the mission statement of "Parish Catalyst," the learning community I'm involved in through church.

I couldn't help but see the impact this statement has when you replace "parish leaders," with "small business owners." 

It resonates with what we as entrepreneurs want to create in our own businesses.

We want to be creative and courageous!

One of the most courageous efforts a business owner can take is to replace themselves as the primary technician in their company.

A plumber can’t just decide to “not plumb.” He has to have someone else who is a) qualified and b) motivated to do the work. And he has to PAY FOR IT, which is often the scariest part.

It’s the same with other professions as well.

Most of the business owners who I work with eventually want to expand or scale their business, but the thing that they tell me they struggle with most is what they call “finding good help.”

While I think that it’s true, good help can be hard to find, the real problem lies in the assumption that they have to FIND good help vs. GROW good help.

FINDING GREAT PEOPLE is great. But finding those "unicorns," isn't easy. They're known as the person who is a perfect match of qualification and motivation, but as rare as actual unicorns.

The other thing that makes finding great people so appealing is that it actually takes a small amount of effort.

1) Write an ad

2) POOF!

Suddenly, they appear (or more often, they don’t).

We don’t really have much control over finding them. They find us.

It’s the lazy man’s way to get good help.

GROWING GREAT PEOPLE is a harder, but significantly more effective, way for an owner to replace him or herself.

It takes time, patience, and a high tolerance for things to not go perfectly all the time.

If it takes a few weeks to “find good help,” it might take a few months or even longer to “grow great help.”

The pain that owners often feel in this process isn't the pain of not being able to find someone who is able or even that of doing the training, it’s the TIME that it takes to do it well.

What’s funny to me is that these same owners who won’t take the time to grow great people—because, "it takes too long"—are the same ones who don’t let other people do the simple things in their business. They think, "No one can do this as well as I can.”

GROWING GREAT PEOPLE is hard because it requires us to behave differently and be okay with the glaring truth that the first few times (or more) there is the possibility that THEY ARE GOING TO FAIL. 

They will not do it as well, fast, efficiently, etc. as we do.

Well OF COURSE they won't!

That’s an unrealistic expectation. They AREN’T us!

Luckily, there is a very simple leadership development model that has been passed around through leadership circles for hundreds of years called, “The Apprenticeship Model,” which outlines a very simple way to make this very challenging process quite simple and more fulfilling.

It looks like this:

Consider “I” as the business owner and “You” as the employee that you are trying to train up to replace yourself or to do something in your absence.

1. I do. You watch. We talk. — In this step, you act as the mentor and your employee acts as the apprentice. The first time you meet, you have your employee simply watch what you are doing. Their job (which you state to them) is to see how you interact, what you say, what you do, and perhaps MOST importantly how you lead. After the session, you’re simply going to go and talk about what you did and what your employee experienced.

2. I do. You help. We talk. — In the second step, you’re still going to do, but your employee is going to help. You’ll do this several times, and each time have your employee helps with something a little bit more challenging. Then, and this is SUPER IMPORTANT, you are going to make sure to schedule a time to talk about it. Leaders are available to and for each other, so for WHATEVER your employee needs or is challenged with, you need to make yourself available to them.

3. You do. I help. We talk. — In the third step, your employee does, you help them, and YOU still schedule a time to talk about it. You’re starting to loosen the grip of control on the actual task, yet YOU STILL OWN IT. All too often leaders ABDICATE OWNERSHIP too quickly.

4. You do. I watch. We talk. — Here, your employee does everything, and you simply watch. Of course, you can lean in occasionally because you want them to succeed. This isn’t a final exam where there is no cheating. This is like an open book test where eventually, your employee needs less and less help from “the book." You still talk afterward. You can never forget that part—and you can always come back to it after you’ve relinquished control. After all, you still own the company, and you still get to be involved.

5. You do. Someone else watches — This is when you know that you’ve made the transition and your employee is ready to take over for you. Your employee does, but now, they are the mentor and they have their own apprentice, and the cycle continues on from there. Now, don’t forget what I said about PATIENCE and TOLERANCE. This isn’t an overnight process. Depending on the complexity of the tasks, it could take as little as a week or as much as a year or more to get the results that you’re looking for, which is producing a highly qualified, ambitious, and motivated successor for your tasks, job, and/or business.

It's all about how fast the employee develops, and that process will be unique to each person.

You can expedite that process by STAYING ENGAGED on the RIGHT ACTIONS over time.


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