In part one of this series, we began to discuss how you can “get out of the way” of your employees and allow them to function at a high level. The ultimate goal, as you’ll recall, is to build a business that can run without your constant involvement—giving you the freedom of owning a business, not just owning a job. And you can’t do that without a highly capable, talented team.

Today we are going to examine three more key principles as you work towards this goal:

  1. Create guidelines and set standards.  It’s your job to give your employees the tools they need to succeed.  This means that you need to clearly define your organizational standards.  What do you expect in terms of customer service?  Organizational relationships?  Work ethic?  By setting them on the right course, you free your employees to engage their intellect and their creativity without the danger that they will wind up going in the wrong direction. Think of this as establishing the “rules of the game” that your employees will play by.

  2. Delegate authority as necessary.  Don’t force your employees to come to you for approval 30 times each day.  If you trust your shipping manager enough to hire him for the position, you shouldn’t need to inspect each shipment personally before it goes out.  It is important that you keep reasonable organizational controls in place, but if you refuse to grant any authority to your employees, they are never going to step up and take ownership of their job.

  3. Provide regular feedback.  The danger of granting too much independence to your employees is that they will wander off course.  That’s why it’s critical that you provide feedback regularly.  I recommend having a brief conversation at least weekly and anytime a teachable moment arises.  This conversation is not a time for you to say “you shouldn’t have done that, you should have done this.”  It’s an opportunity for you to explain the reasoning behind the decisions that should have been made.  As the saying goes, if you teach a man to fish, he can feed himself for a lifetime. Try to catch them, and complement them, doing things right more often than you catch them doing things wrong.

It may be a cliché, but the truth is that your people are your most valuable asset. I’ve seen what exceptional employees can mean, both in my own businesses and in those of my clients. But exceptional teams don’t appear out of thin air. It’s up to you to develop them and it starts with empowering them.