When Giving Up Control Is Good for Business

If you want your company to grow, delegate.

Business owners are control freaks. For a smaller company or a one-man operation, this might be vital to its continued existence and perhaps the best guarantee of having happy clients. But for a larger, growing company, an owner who can't delegate responsibility will hold the company back — or even sink it — during its development.

In defense of owners and managers, there are many credible reasons for seeking domination. Most have never worked for anyone else, and if they have, their bosses were probably control freaks, too. There's a huge comfort in knowing everything that's going on, or maybe there's a lack of unconditional trust between owners and their employees.

If you don't have a system in place to give up control or understand how it would work, it's only natural to fear this drastic change. But the reality is that if you don't learn how to delegate control, you'll never be able to achieve a successful company whose profits and employees are continuously growing.

I discovered my own control-freak traits early in my career. Having a lot of pride in what my business had already accomplished, I feared that if I gave up my authority, I wouldn't be able to ensure that everything would still be intact. But I made myself do it, and the reality of how well it worked out was astonishing.

One day I was riding with a local realtor friend to look at a few properties in my area. As he drove down one of the main streets in town, we passed one of my company's project sites. The realtor looked at me and asked, "What type of project do you have going on there?" I had to tell him I had no idea. In fact, I didn't know who the client was and, for that matter, didn't even recognize the trade crew that was doing the work. That's when it hit me: it really works.

Make a Plan

To facilitate giving up control, be prepared to do the following when developing your plan for change:

  • Commit to the changes.
  • Prepare for the changes.
  • Implement the changes.
  • Support the changes.
  • Manage the changes.
  • Delegate the responsibilities required to make the changes to trained and skilled employees.

Your employees' participation will also aid the implementation of the process, saving you valuable time and effort. Together, make a bulleted list of what your company needs to accomplish and have in place in order to divide and share the control and management of your typical day-to-day business activities. The plan will speak volumes to your employees about their futures and the company's future. Here are some examples of what your list should include:

  • Job costing
  • Forms and check sheets
  • A sales person who will keep a pulse on the clients' satisfaction levels during projects
  • A system for employee reviews and advancement
  • Consistent management and production-employee meetings
  • Customer quality audits after project completion.
  • The assigning of the best person for each responsibility.

The Evolution of Change

Keep in mind that this type of vital change in your business model should be considered an evolution. Take it slow. It will take time to properly implement your plan. By moving forward at a comfortable pace, adequate time can be dedicated to analyzing mistakes and revising your plan. The key is to have control of growth and changes.

During this evolution, you will discover that delegating management responsibilities to your employees creates many new challenges and opportunities — for you as well as for them. The benefits of letting go of control are endless, and many did not become apparent to me for several years. In fact, new benefits still surface every day. Below are some of them:

  • Employees grow to think like owners.
  • You and your employees will develop greater job satisfaction.
  • Employees will gain "ownership" and pride in their projects.
  • Unconditional trust will develop with and among your employees.
  • You'll have better client relations, service and overall satisfaction.
  • Quality becomes everyone's responsibility by default.
  • Problems start solving themselves without your input.
  • The business owner gets to work on what he or she is best at and prefers to do.
  • Employees who do not buy in and participate in the plan typically leave by their own choice.
  • There is less on-the-job and at-home stress for everyone.
  • It provides for a natural progression of leadership.
  • Everyone can take and enjoy a much-needed vacation, knowing the business is under control.

And remember that making this kind of significant change will lead to mistakes, on your part as well as your employees'. These mistakes should be viewed as learning opportunities rather than major problems. If you make a mistake, understand why it was made and then determine what you can do to correct it and how you'll avoid the same mistake in the future. This is something that business owners can help employees evaluate and accomplish. Fortunately, in building and remodeling, nothing is truly a mistake unless you can't fix it.

Shawn McCadden, CR, CLC, is director of education for DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen by Worldwide. He is the former owner of an award-winning remodeling company.

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