When I was an employee, I hated it when my boss was in the office. The boss always managed to muck things up and did more damage than good by running around being self-important and annoying. As soon as we could get him out of the office, systems started moving smoothly again. We got more done, and made more money.
Employees want to do a good job. And what the boss often needs to do is get out of the way and let them perform. Of course, when I became a business owner, I fell prey to the kind of thinking that trips up so many entrepreneurs: You have to work endless hours, you have to micromanage every aspect of the business, you have to make every decision. Ack!
I don’t know if my businesses would have survived if I hadn’t come up with what I call Go Theory. (“Go” as in “just go away”.) Go Theory is not about where you go or what you do while you go away from the office. Go Theory is all about what you don’t do:
• Don’t send your employees lots of little reminders by email.
• Don’t keep checking your smart phone.
• Don’t miss the spectacular view or the interesting presentation or the quality time with friends because you were stressing out about what might be going on back at the office.
Instead, enjoy your time away. Because you’ve got great people taking care of the business while you’re gone. If that last sentence just sent a chill up your spine (“But…no one can possibly take care of my business except me!”), read on.
The first element of Go theory, its absolute essence, is hiring great people to work in your business:
• Fire quick and hire slow. Invest the time and money required to make the best choices. I don’t rely on just myself to spot the right person — I make sure that at least two other people whose opinions I respect interview the candidates.
• Hire smart. I hire people who are smarter than me.
• Pick people with a track record for doing their tasks and accomplishing their goals. You don’t want to deal with excuses.
The second element of Go theory involves what you do with those great employees once you have them:
• Give people a great place to work, including real benefits.
• Trust them to handle problems and give them room to succeed or fail.
• Get in the habit of throwing issues back to employees — otherwise, you’ll be chained to your business 24/7.
• Make your business a vibrant and healthy system and you’ll find that employees work better when you’re gone.
The third element of Go theory is at once the easiest — and the hardest:
• Give employees clear directions or goals, and leave them alone to do their jobs. A quick check-in early in the project to make sure they are on track is OK, but then…go away!
The idea is for you to work on your business instead of in your business. This forces you and your staff to create good systems that can run without you. As the CEO, you want to be useless in the day-to-day business activities so you can be proactive and reactive to markets and opportunities. Keep in mind that what puts your business ahead of the competition is not logging lots of hours at the office — it’s creativity. Ask yourself: How can you be creative if you’re spending all your time making sales calls?
Go Theory provides a lot of rewards, including a “real life” for the CEO and a stronger, healthier bottom line for the company. I find that in my absence my business thrives. Projects move forward, problems get solved, and new ideas emerge. All this — just because I learned to get out of the way and work from a beachside cafe two hours a day.