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Being the President of the United States is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. By the time a problem gets to the President, it’s a big issue. The trivial decisions have been made much further down the chain of command.
Suppose your goal is to build a more valuable company. In that case, it may help to use the American Presidency as a model for your company. Your goal should be to set things up so that your team has the information and authority needed to solve their everyday challenges. They need to know that they have to exhaust every possible option for solving it themselves before an issue gets to your desk.
This approach ensures you’re not bombarded with trivial problems and ultimately makes your business more valuable. One of the eight factors determining your Value Builder Score measures how dependent your company is on your involvement. We call this attribute Hub & Spoke. Your business needs to thrive without your everyday involvement to maximize your score on the Hub & Spoke variable. One way to reduce your involvement is by recording your Standard Operating Procedures.
How Fit2Go Got Employees to Solve Their Problems
Cesar Quintero started Fit2Go, a meal delivery service in Miami. The business delivered healthy meals to office workers in South Florida. Fit2Go was a success with customers but struggled to make money with net profit margins of just 5%.
That’s when Quintero had an idea. Instead of brainstorming how to improve his margins in a vacuum, Quintero decided to open his books. He challenged his team to come up with their own ideas for making Fit2Go more profitable.
On the front line, Quintero’s team knew where the waste was at Fit2Go and set about solving the problems. They looked for inefficiencies in food preparation and delivery. They even started to look for ways to save on energy by ensuring only the needed lights remained in use.
With the front–line team focused on costs, Fit2Go’s net profit margin improved to 12%. With better margins, Quintero was able to attract investment from one of Miami’s top chefs. Best of all, he didn’t have to come up with all of the solutions himself.
To get your employees to start solving problems before they get to your desk, consider the following strategies used by presidents everywhere:
1. Arm your employees with information: Many owners guard their books with secrecy, but unless employees know your numbers, it’s hard for them to develop intelligent ideas. If you’re not comfortable sharing your profit numbers, consider starting with top-line sales figures and your major cost items.
2. Train employees to answer their own questions: When a junior comes to you with a problem, rather than proposing a solution, ask them a simple question: “If it were your business, what would you do?”. That question forces your employee to think and trains them to start answering their own questions. In most cases, their answer is likely to be just fine. Over time, employees will stop feeling the need to come to you with trivial questions.
3. Hire a 2iC: The President of the United States has a Chief of Staff who coordinates the team under the Commander in Chief. Their job is to ensure nothing gets to the President’s desk without proper vetting. Their goal is to shield the President from the trivial and use the President’s time for only the most crucial decisions. Consider hiring a second-in-command (2iC) or a general manager who can act as your company’s day-to-day leader to shield you from the everyday decisions best made by your subordinates.
Getting your business to run without you frees up your time to focus on the big picture. It also makes your business more valuable over time. To learn more about the value of having a business that can run without you, check out our blog post on the Hub & Spoke value driver.