You’re a Bottleneck. What to Do? Jamie’s story
And I’m going to talk to you today about how to delegate, how to make yourself not such a bottleneck. Because if you want your business to grow, you don’t want it to be limited by your personal ability to do work and stuff.
I’m going to do it a bit differently today. I’m going to tell a story of a client of mine and talk about the specific problems he had and the specific things we chose to do.
I thought we might find out more fun for change.
So he’s called Jamie, he runs a successful business – I wouldn’t identify more than that. He’s got six guys in the field installing and there were three people in the office.
- He does lots of stuff
- He’s a bottleneck
- He forgets things
- He gets overwhelmed so stuff kind of falls off the side
- He lets people down
- And he works very hard – he’s working 80-hour a week.
Now he’s got stuff – he’s got six guys in the field and as I said he’s got people in the office, three people answering the phones, doing the bookkeeping, scheduling jobs, and doing the general admin. And he’s still very busy.
Now this is an ongoing process that we’ve been working on together.
- We’re trying to get control of his time.
- We’re trying to get control of his stress.
- We’re trying to reduce his working hours down from 80 to something more manageable and appealing.
- We’re trying to implement systems and control systems so that he’s still in control of his business but not in the thick of everything.
- We’re trying to stop everyone and of always needing him to be involved.
- And we’re trying to get more done so the business can grow.
So what are his issues?
- Everybody comes to him to sort things out when there’s a problem or make a decision all the time, like all the time.
- He says if he goes into the office, that’s it, he gets nothing done – he can spend six hours dealing with everyone else’s shit for them.
And that’s great. It makes them feel very useful and important but nothing gets done that he needs doing.
So we’ve done a couple of things…
He’s hired an Operations Manager to take a lot of the load of the work away from him.
He’s taking a few months to train this guy and be comfortable enough to hand stuff over but now that’s done and that process is completed and it’s been a few months. He’s now removed a third of his workload.
And this is something for fun that he did, he kind of stopped answering his phone.
He’s made himself less available to everybody and doesn’t instantly call them back or instantly respond when they call. He leaves it for a while if he’s busy doing something else, he’ll do that.
And of course what’s happened? His people start thinking for themselves instead of waiting for him to think for them.
Seriously, they actually do that. So a lot of the phone calls that he would previously have taken and dealt with, end up going away, he doesn’t need to do any work at all because people sort it out without him.
If he goes into the office he gets nothing done, so what we’ve done about that is we’ve carved out time for him to do the work that he needs to do, whether it’s the marketing or thinking about the strategy, or talking to me or, putting quotes together so he’ll go and sit in a cafe or he’ll go home and spend an afternoon at home instead of being in the office where he’s kind of available to everybody.
He’s still got a massive list of stuff to do and he doesn’t get through it all of course because it’s massive.
And what we did about that was we hired him a PA. So he’s hired an assistant, an assistant to the boss to do all the admin and shit bits that he’s not very good at.
And what that helps us do is take off the work that he’s not greater and give it to somebody who’s good at it, somebody admin focused, somebody with IT skills or better IT skills, somebody who can type. I’d say he’s now dictating his quotes into a voice recorder, emailing them to her, she’s typing them up, saves him 20 minutes or half an hour every quote.
You know she’s doing the computers, she’s doing the emailing and she can filter through his emails and get rid of the rubbish and ask him about the ones she doesn’t understand. So she’s taking a lot of that boring admin function away.
This is not a big business by the way. She’s only part-time, so she’s not terribly expensive. We’re not talking a multi million-dollar business here. We’re talking a normal sized trades business.
And we’ve got Jamie focusing on the stuff that he’s good at and doing the stuff that he’s needed for – doing the sales and the quoting, building relationships with his builder customers, and doing strategy and management work.
And one more thing, we’ve got him going home at 5:30 anyway whether it’s all done or not.
I know that doesn’t work everyday of course but it is working. He’s going home at 5:30 or not much after 5:30 instead of staying till 9:00 and 10:00 o’clock at least some days every week because he made a commitment to me and to himself to do that. So he’s getting some of his evenings back, his wife’s happier, his kids see more of him and he’s liking life a bit more too.
So we’ve come at the problem from two angles:
- We’ve tried to find ways to get more stuff done
- We’ve taken him away from all the interruptions and the people who take away his time
- We’ve given work to other people and we’ve removed them from the business anyway so he can go and not work, so he gets a bit of life back.
So just to summarize the problem:
- Everybody comes to you to do the thinking for them because you’re so amazing
- You’ve probably got control issues (Jamie certainly does, most of us do) because they won’t do it properly would they?
- And the work is never done, it’s never finished, you never get to go, “Ah that’s it, everything’ is complete. I can go home now,” do you?
So what should you do? What are the answers or some of the answers, Jamie’s answers?
- Delegate. Hire people with good skills, that complement the skills you’ve got. Don’t always be there for your staff being the solver of all their problems because if you’ve hired decent people, they will think for themselves and you’ll be glad.
- You should set time for your work the important work that no one else can do and make sure you do it so you’re not stuck trying to do it at midnight.
- You should go home anyway because that’s one way to deal with this is to seize control of the time and go home and not do the work and give yourself some time off, you’ll probably work better anyway when you do that.
So if this sounds like you – overworked, control issues, working long hours – you’re not alone.
Most trades business owners and most small business owners perhaps including myself, are a bit guilty. And you can fix it. You can take steps to make your life and your business run better and more without you needing to be there all the time.
Of course, if you want me to help, I’m sure you know what to do.
I hope it’s obvious somewhere on the screen there for what you should do.
See you later.
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