January 13, 2021
A successful business operation is a well-oiled machine. All of us cogs have a place in the system, and in order to improve business efficiency, we all have to own our roles and trust others on our team to own theirs. But being a small business owner can make this tough. We're used to having our hands in every aspect of the business, so when should we back off and let others handle their sector? When the "lanes" of our organization start to become defined, it's time to retire a few of our hats, and put our confidence in the team that supports us each day.
When it comes to empowering your team members, establishing clear roles and responsibilities is the first step. "According to research by the Harvard Business Review, clearly defining people's roles and responsibilities matters more when determining a team's success than outlining the precise path the team will take." This is because it gives each member a clear vision of where they need to focus their energy, and encourages them to discover their best avenue of getting to the goal. By clearly defining our team members' responsibilities, we reduce redundancy, remove the unhealthy competition between employees, and lower the risk of overlooking essential tasks. By giving everyone a "lane" to stay in, we increase focus and provide our employees with the power of owning their duties. (How do you establish clear roles and responsibilities? Check out this article for some pointers!)
Once the jobs are clearly defined, staying in your lane is essential. By giving everyone room to do what they do best, and encouraging other members to do so as well, the whole team benefits from a mutually symbiotic relationship. When your team feels that their part is necessary for the company's success, they claim that space and put their all into what they do. Therefore, use this as an opportunity to highlight your team members' strengths. Everyone has something they’re great at, so trust your appointed member to make the right decisions based on their experience. If necessary, reassign teammates to a position that lets their strengths shine.
While it may be difficult at first, especially if you're used to running nearly every aspect of your operation, you must find ways to respect these boundaries. There will be times when you want to step in and do it yourself, but you need to observe patience and trust that your team will perform their functions well. You have your own responsibilities to worry about, and they're vital to your company's success, so stick to your lane like you encourage your employees to do, and complete your tasks before even thinking about stepping over into someone else's job territory. Just like in regular traffic, chaos spurs from crossing into a lane that somebody already occupies. If you're tempted to move out of your zone, first try communicating effectively with your team members to get a better picture of where they are at with their tasks and responsibilities. Regular conversations with your crew, like through weekly or daily meetings, will provide assurance to everyone that jobs are being completed when and how they should be. We also gain more respect for our team members' contributions when we trust them to hold up their end of the bargain.
Now, we are set up for a relay with our team rather than a solo competition. We achieve success together, and each of us can hold each other accountable for our part in the well-oiled machine. The Hive Mendocino Cooperative takes accountability very seriously because we know how important everyone's individual role is. We've created a team we can count on, and we push them toward success while they push us toward ours.
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