Ask Doug and Polly!
Q. I'm sorry to say it, but the owner of the company where I work is the quintessential micro-manager. He has hired three managers (I'm one of them), but he won't give us any decision making authority. I'm not sure why he won't delegate, but it's killing our company. Because everything has to go through the boss, we can't respond quickly enough. What would you recommend?
A. In the process of doing research for our book, we interviewed the owners of more than 100 small businesses. One of the consistent patterns we found was that entrepreneurs had difficulty effectively delegating decision-making authority. The primary reason is that delegating decision-making authority means giving up a measure of control and that’s hard for many entrepreneurs.
Yet, if their businesses are to continue to grow, these owners will have to overcome their reticence to let go. Failure to do so will mean that the principal’s workload will continue to increase. At some point, they will be overwhelmed and out of capacity. These business owners will unwittingly become the constraint to growth in their own businesses.
This is a bad situation, but the only thing worse than not delegating when it’s needed is delegating before the proper infrastructure is in place. Doing so can send the business spiraling out of control before the owner realizing what is happening―we’ve seen it all too often. Putting the proper infrastructure in place to allow safe delegation means three things:
• Hire the right managers – Delegating before the right people are in place is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, getting the right managers in place often requires difficult decisions, because it can mean layering or replacing loyal employees who simply do not have the skill set to become managers. Although the decision can be gut wrenching, failure to make the tough call can cripple a businesses.
•Document processes – It’s not very sexy and no one will pay a nickel more because you have well-documented processes. Even so, once a business reaches the point where the owner cannot be personally involved in every transaction, good process documentation is the best way to communicate to employees exactly how you want things done. It ensures that things are done consistently across an expanding enterprise and provides a basis for continuous improvement.
If every widget maker does things in the same way and one of them identifies a way to improve the process, it’s relatively easy to propagate the improvement across the entire organization. But, if each worker makes widgets differently, the process improvement will only be useful to the person who identifies it―the others are doing things in a different way to begin with.
• Establish robust metrics – This is what enables a business owner to know what is going on in the bowels of the organization even though he or she isn’t personally there. Good P&Ls are necessary, but not sufficient. For example, tracking the number of shipments that are currently late can let the owner know if there is a problem with on-time deliveries while there is still time to fix things. Left uncorrected, this problem will eventually show up in the P&Ls as a decline in sales, but by that time, the damage is done―the customers are gone. Good metrics are what allow a business owner to sleep at night.
With a solid infrastructure in place, business owners can confidently delegate decision-making authority to their managers―without it, delegation can be a recipe for disaster. Developing a proper infrastructure takes a lot of work, but the results are worth the effort.
Do you have a business question for Doug and Polly? Tweet it to us @BizReviewUSA or send us an email at [email protected]
G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration.
Who are the G7?
The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like.
The merry band comprises:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.
Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda.
When was the ‘G’ formed?
Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s.
Why does the G7 exist?
At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted.
The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability.
It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations.
Where is the 2021 G7 summit?
This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall.
What will be discussed this year?
After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”
The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values.
According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.”