Stage 44: Developing General Managers
How do you position yourself to move away from the day-to-day details of your business? This may be one of the biggest single issues that face most business owners today. It is not uncommon to get trapped in the details of today’s business to the point where you cannot find the time or energy to groom your replacement.
Welcome to Stage 44 of this year’s Tour de Profit. We are in the Synergy Region where we are focused on building our leaders for the future. This particular stage is centered on developing your senior-most leader – your General Manager. You can add whatever title that makes sense for your industry, but essentially this individual is responsible for the overall performance of your business, from top to bottom.
So let me ask you…Just how comfortable are you turning over your business to someone else to run? How confident are you that they will make decisions that you will agree with and that will be good for the long term success of your business? How knowledgeable is he or she about the needs and care-abouts of your most important clients? These are critical questions that must be addressed in order to put someone into this critical position.
It is easy to see that this is not a simple task or a decision that you would take lightly. This required a significant amount of thought and preparation. In fact, in some businesses, it may take months or even years to prepare someone for this assignment.
Since this is not a quick-response decision, doesn’t it make sense to approach this challenge with a thoughtful plan? I would suggest it does. So you might ask, where do I start? Let me give you a few thought starters.
It is critical that you create a detailed job description for the General Manager position. There are generic descriptions available online that will give you some ideas and suggestions. I’d suggest you start there and make changes based on the specific activities and areas of focus that you are personally involved in. It is often far easier to make changes to an existing document than it is to create one from scratch. If you have one from a prior business or from a colleague, “steal” the framework and edit with your specific content.
In the end, this document should be very descriptive about the tasks, responsibilities, structure, and success measures for the general manager position. I would strongly recommend that you “step it up a notch” from where you are currently managing the business today. Stretch the assignment to take on more responsibility, add more discipline and set higher standards than you do for yourself. While many business owners are their own toughest critic, it never hurts to set the bar higher for a new general manager – particularly since you are going to be in the background ready to help them succeed – at least for a time.
Once you have the job description in hand, make a list of the critical skills that a general manager must have to be successful in your business. These may include technical training, systems or software training, leadership training or even selling skills. No matter what they are, document them on a list. This may become a checklist for a prospective GM or it may become a critical part of a development plan for your new general manager candidate. With this key skills list, you can begin assessing your current team members for future potentials or use it as a standard for hiring a prospective general manager.
In many cases it takes months if not years to prepare someone for this critical position within your business. So even if you are not planning to step away from your business for some time, it is best to begin the preparation. Not only will you be prepared when you are ready, but your team will know you are thinking of the long-term success of the business. Don’t be afraid to let your team members know your plans so they can prepare themselves for the eventual change in leadership.
Remember, drama within an organization only inhibits progress. Drama is never good. It does not allow for abundance to occur. Your role as the business owner is to eliminate the drama, make certain your team knows where you are going with the business, and demonstrate that you are moving into the future with a solid plan for success. Doing your homework in this area will help in each of these areas.
Take this seriously. You will never make a more important hiring decision. The individual who will replace you in the business must be a great fit for the position – both today and in the future. Spend time in planning and preparation to improve your likelihood of making a smooth, successful transition.
Good luck developing your plans this week!