Somebody approached me the other day asking for some assistance with creating documentation for internal procedures and processes. I asked why they wanted to start documenting, and the answer was very interesting. "I've already been burned twice - I don't want to get burned again." After some explanation, I learned that on two occasions, key employees had left somewhat hastily - along with them went all of the operational knowledge for doing their job. Hiring a replacement was almost impossible because nobody knew what the replacement would do - so before anybody could be hired, the individual I was speaking with had to figure it out from scratch... twice.
Spring is in the air! The weather is warm, the flowers are in bloom, and my allergies are driving me nuts! Despite my allergies, I love this time of year because it's full of hours by the pool, food off the grill, and one or two vacations. Although... you know what I've been noticing the last few years? More often than not, I end up having to do work during my time away from work! And that's no good. A vacation is no vacation if I'm accompanied by office tasks and responsibilities everywhere I go! So even though the trend seems to be leaning more and more to making vacations workactions, I'm not accepting that fate. And frankly, neither should you! To help you take a real vacation this Spring or Summer, I've outlined 7 steps that will prepare you to make it happen.
Nobody can build and grow a successful business alone - we all need help. But knowing that fact isn't going to solve anything - you have to do something about it! In my last article, I showed you how to get started with oDesk (one of many great websites for out-tasking). So now that you have your account, I'm going to help you start out-tasking and/or outsourcing your work. Today's article is going to show you 5 steps that will help you filter through your tasks and identify which activities need to be done by you, and which activities you can start delegating to somebody else.
Feeling overwhelmed with work is an awful sensation. It's that same feeling I got when I had a huge project at school due the next day, and I was just getting started the night before. Kind of sick to my stomach, light headed, ready to cry at any moment, etc. But there's a huge difference between feeling overwhelmed at work and feeling overwhelmed when you were in school - in school you had to push forward and do all your work yourself until it was done. Now - you can just pay somebody else to do your work for you! So why don't you? Not only will you feel a huge sense of relief once you begin offloading jobs to somebody else, but you'll be able to focus on doing the jobs that only you can do! And that's the key to growing your business - handing off the mechanics so that you can focus on the core of your business.
In his book The Checklist Manifesto - How to Get Things Right,"Atul Gawande showed us how simple it is to deal with complex processes, and consistently perform operations correctly. Just use a checklist. And we agree with him. If you want to increase productivity at work, you need to create checklists for how to accomplish tasks. This will not only serve as helpful reminders for you when you're performing tasks, but it also makes it a lot easier to delegate tasks and get consistently good results.
I just read a great blog article about why you need to make yourself replaceable, named Startups Cannot Afford to Have Indispensable Employees (and not for the reason you think). It articulated very well the message we've been preaching for the past month about creating a turnkey business - if you want to scale your business, you need to be replaceable. The article went on to articulate the problem of not being replaceable - if nobody knows what you do, how are you ever supposed to get promoted and/or add team members? If nobody has any idea what Bob does, what's going to happen when Bob is gone? If you want to take a vacation, who will take care of things while you're away? It's a risk to not be replaceable, and it's a risk that tons of people are taking - but really cannot afford.
Questions are like roadblocks on the path to productivity - if you or your team have a question, then not much can be done until you answer that question. The fewer questions you have, the more you'll be able to get done. If you can answer any remaining questions quickly, then you'll be able to get back on the road to productivity in less time. And if you don't have to involve a lot of people in order to answer questions, then you'll be able to keep more of your human resources productive.
What's the #1 productivity killer? Questions. They'll stop productivity dead in its tracks. Whenever there is a question, it means there's a knowledge gap. And things won't get done (at least completely done) until that gap is filled. Questions can stop productivity in two ways - it stops the person performing the task, and it stops the person who has to answer the question. In some cases, a whole team will stop work to hear, and then try to answer, a question.
When folks talk about a turnkey business, they're most likely talking about a franchise - all the owner has to do is "turn the key" to begin operations; however, the term doesn't just apply to franchises. What makes a franchise a turnkey business is that somebody has defined all of the processes, the inputs, the outputs, etc., and all they need to increase productivity is some investment capital and labor. Just plug them in and they're off! But any business can replicate that, even if you're not selling burgers. All you have to do is incorporate the turnkey business concept - break down your business operations into mini repeatable processes that can be performed consistently by somebody else.