* This is a true story and names have been changed
Jason was the manager of a multi-million dollar hot tub business. In one of our VIP days we talked about him prioritizing his time in the morning so he could focus on the #1 priority for the business, which involved assembling some much needed financial documents.
I asked him if he could foresee any potential challenges with prioritizing his time in this way. He paused for a moment and said, “Actually, yes, I do have one concern.
I usually spend the very first part of every morning out in the warehouse helping my crew make decisions about hot tub deliveries, and ensuring that everything runs smoothly out there – so that would be my only conflict.”
I asked him about the crew that he had at the warehouse, “Oh they’re doing a really great job.” He responded, “They work really well together. And in fact I usually feel like I’m going out there mostly out of habit and fear of letting go.”
“Do you feel like they’re capable of handling things on their own?” I inquired.
“Yes, I believe they could.” He responded.
“So what’s the problem?” I asked blatantly.
Jason was thoughtful for a moment and then said, “I’m concerned about not being at the warehouse and available if something should come up.”
“Is it possible that it’s actually more true that they don’t really need you out there at all?” I asked. Jason looked at me and smiled slightly, “Yes.” He conceded.
“They’ve actually been doing a really great job, and now I’m just going out there to lend a hand. It’s not like they actually need me. And in fact I’m probably mostly just getting in the way!”
Are you REALLY needed as much as you think you are?
It was difficult for Jason to admit that he actually might not be needed. It was ingrained in him to be readily available in the event something should come up. As a result he wasn’t able to focus on prioritizing his time on achieving his top priorities as a manager.
He realized that in reality he was holding himself back. And even more consequential, he was holding his crew back by not empowering them as the leaders that he knew them to be.
In the past he was always the first one to volunteer for the “save the day calls” for hot tub repairs. This often included going out during cold, inclement weather and late hours. He did this because he didn’t want to burden his employees. Yet in the context of our conversation he realized that they might perceive him as not trusting them and that they might actually relish in participating in “save the day calls” and experience the gratitude, appreciation and satisfaction of being a hero for a customer – if only in just a small way.
Shortly after our conversation he announced to his warehouse crew, “You guys have been doing a phenomenal job out here. I really see each of you as being great leaders and you are fully capable of making decisions without me.
You actually know exactly what to do. And besides, I pretty much just get in the way. So that’s why you’re not going to be seeing me out here anymore. You guys are fully capable of handling the warehouse on your own – and handling it even better without me.”
Resisting old patterns
After that Jason resisted the urge to go out to the warehouse in the mornings – even though there were times when he still occasionally experienced the pull to “just check to see how things were going.” He also began wearing dress slacks and a nice shirt instead of his work boots and heavy winter coat.
Several weeks later the business held an annual warehouse sale with record-breaking results of a 50% increase in sales from the previous year and almost double the volume of hot tub deliveries.
A few weeks later during their monthly staff meeting the owner acknowledged the extraordinary performance of the crew.
“You know, after our warehouse sale I was really panicked. I mean, REALLY panicked – probably more than I’ve ever been before. I actually lost sleep over how we were going to deliver all these hot tubs.
And what is truly amazing is, in all my 34 years of work and with a rookie crew and with very little help or input from Jason or me – you guys pulled this off.
You guys did this! Not only that but you did it without any complaints from customers and with lots of compliments. Of course there were things that didn’t go perfectly – but you guys even handled that on your own!”
Breakthroughs happen when you get out of the way
These results became possible when Jason was able to have a breakthrough around how he just might be actually holding his crew back.
He realized that if he continued to operate from the mindset that his crew needed him that he would continue to show up at the warehouse and unconsciously micromanage and undermine his team’s ability to assume full ownership and leadership.
He communicated what he saw in them as leaders. When he was willing to trust and step away his crew showed up as the leaders that he saw them to be. They came together as a team to problem-solve the handling of hot tub deliveries and the challenging delivery schedules in a more efficient way and effective way than they would have with Jason’s involvement.
Weekly Reminder & Action Step
In what ways might I actually be holding my team or my business back?
What concerns come up for me if I were to step away and assign more responsibility to someone else: an assistant, another employee or to my team of employees?
How might taking this action create a breakthrough and big income leap in my business?
Take this work to a deeper level and share your responses to the questions above on my blog. Studies show that you’ll create results quicker through accountability and writing down your insights and breakthroughs.
Take a few seconds to share your experience!