So you are a good manager – hopefully a great one – you are on top of your workload, delegate tasks efficiently, keep within your budget, hit your targets and are respected by the people that work for you. But how are you guided in your day to day schedule, do you have an instruction manual and if so who created it?
Whether you are running your own business by yourself, in a partnership or as a group of directors the question of whether you are managing it or directing it is the same. My clients fall into all of these categories and I work with them to try and direct, as oppose to, manage their businesses. So what is the difference?
Managing is being in charge of or controlling either a part or whole of a business. A more negative meaning can be surviving or coping.
Directing is guiding or leading a part or whole of a business. The emphasis here is being able to aim in a particular direction.
There is certainly a significant amount of crossover of these two roles but directing is an extension of managing. It is a natural progression as the company and you, as a director, grow.
Are You Making That Progression?
It is all well and good knowing the difference but what does this mean in practice. If you find yourself working permanently in a management role how do you get out of this rut and move towards directing or aiming the business? The simplest answer is time – your most precious commodity.
By allocating time to analyse the business and the direction it is heading in significant rewards will be reaped. It will of course seem counter intuitive to spend time thinking rather than doing predominantly because it doesn’t earn the business any income. The ethos here is more about being efficient and fighting clever.
Leap of Faith
The biggest asset within a business and most probably its biggest cost is its staff. This is where you can get the time you need to direct your business. What tasks do you perform that could easily be performed by your team? If you perform a sales role, is there someone on your team who could take the calls or respond to your e-mails on your behalf. If your role is more operational the same principle of delegating applies – are there any natural team leaders in the workforce who could reduce your workload and take on some of your tasks?
It can somewhat be a leap of faith delegating to your team – they will of course make some mistakes, we all do and I’m sure you did on your journey thus far. Just make sure you do not leave your team out in the cold as they will need guidance and training now that they have this extra responsibility. This will also have the added benefit of them feeling more included in the business as a valued member of the team.
Focussing Your Efforts
So now that you have some extra time – where to begin? The starting point should always be the top level strategy i.e. the direction of travel of the business. This could be one or more elements which could include:
- Increased Sales / Margin / Both
- Improved product / service offering
- New sales regions / sectors
These will then be followed by the second tier strategies to facilitate this. There will undoubtedly also be a large data gathering exercise to justify any internal decisions that need to be made. These strategies could include:
- Sales strategy
- Marketing strategy
- Personnel / HR strategy
- Growth through merger / acquisition or divesting parts of the business
And finally the action plans to roll out these:
- Business Processes
- Budgets / Financing
- Recruitment / Training
Another consideration is that strategy should be thought of as a way of doing business not just a one off project – it needs to be constantly analysed, reviewed and updated. A major strength of an SME is its flexibility and adaptability to cope with the ever changing business landscape that it sits in – if the landscape changes then so must the strategy.
Setting Targets or Milestones
Once you have established your strategy and where you want to head it is important that that strategy is positioned front and centre not only in your mind but also the whole business. Communicate your strategy to the whole business – this is a team effort after all. The long term strategy may however be somewhat daunting – the proverbial question of how to eat an elephant! But breaking this down into smaller bitesize pieces or milestones it can be swallowed.
If you would like some help to take more control of your business please give CMC Partners a call on 01844 319286 or go to our website for more information. We have over 25 years of experience in helping business owners to develop and execute business strategy.