Typically when a business begins to choke, or feel like it is being choked, it is normally around financial pressures. The inability to generate cash flow combined with increase desire of creditors/vendors to get paid can choke the life out of a company. That is not what I am talking about. In this case is one person, who holds all the vital knowledge your company needs to survive, choking your company to death?
Vital person? You ask yourself, does he mean the researcher, the CEO, or the intellectual resource behind the business? Nope. Not at all. This person typically does not have such lofty titles. In fact this person, who has a death grip on your company, holds a common title and/or is not seen as part of the decision-making team. They are trusted and given numerous tasks to be completed on a daily basis. Without this person, your CEO and other leaders would be lost. This person of danger is known as the Executive Assistant, the Office Manager, or the Receptionist.
How did they get a grip on the throat of your company?
Easy, you gave it to them.
The Over Delegation Trap
In a small business it is easy to have one person who knows the passwords, how to collect money, reconcile the books, and provide other essential tasks that the business owner or executive does not have time for himself or herself. It is one of the reasons why you hired and created the position. There in lies the fatal mistake. By not having members of the leadership team trained to understand what this individual does you leave your company to their mercy.
You have essentially created one avenue of approach for information to be shared and key functions to be executed. Slowly over time other decisions become tied to this central hub – in essence the neck – of your company. This employee has the ability to cripple operations because they hold the key to vital information.
Avoid The Trap
First assess the membership of your team and ask yourself this important and serious question: What would happen if they suddenly no longer existed? How would the business survive?
If you cannot answer that question at all or you come with a Dooh! situation, then you know for sure that your company could seriously be choked to death.
Avoiding placing a grip around the neck of your company you need to do the following:
- Create a catastrophe plan for the business that has back-ups for all employees. These back-ups should be trained in the procedures of the business that the primary employees execute.
- Everyone in the management team on how to accomplish essential tasks like invoicing, collection, and the decision-making process.
- Resist the urge to over delegate what you consider to be non-essential tasks. Every executive should be adults and know how to book their own travel.
- Encourage your assistant to educate you on how they perform their jobs.
Picking On A Position
Now if you have gotten this far I am sure you are wondering how the Executive Assistant, Officer Manager, or the Receptionist can be such a danger to you. It has been my experience that these highly professional individuals tend to be the Achilles heel of a business through their desire to support their boss and/or team. In this desire, through no fault of their own, they are handed more responsibility and access to key parts of the business. It is simply the nature of their position.
They do not willfully hold the business by the neck. It just happens over time and then that day comes when they leave, get sick, or something worse. That is when your business suddenly discovers that it is being choked to death.