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a blog by Chris Barrow

More on Managers (and the first week back)

A series of questions from clients this week on the subject of management (including that which prompted yesterday’s post). I wonder why that is? Perhaps because some owners have returned from holiday, expecting it all done (and it wasn’t). Or simply because they are back from a restful holiday and spiritually exhausted at the prospect of having to crank it all up again themselves? in Thursday’s post we looked at the key performance criteria for an outstanding manager. Questions from clients this week have included:

  1. should I hire a manager?

  2. should I promote Person A to management?

  3. how do I choose between persons A & B?

  4. my existing manager isn’t making my life easier – what should I do?

The answer to the first question is always going to be a resounding “yes” from me. I became self-employed for the first time on 1st January 1987 (as a fee-based financial planner) and my first commercial action was to hire a Personal Assistant, Mrs Audrey Heaton, who quickly evolved into my business manager. That was before I recruited my first client – because I knew that I couldn’t do “delivery” confidently unless I knew I had my back covered. There have been many “Audrey’s” since then – and for the last 5+ years, Phillippa Goodwin has been my Essential PA, my right-hand person, my back-up, my personal manager. I travel through my commercial life confidently knowing that things will get done, that they will get done on time, that they will get down accurately – all 99% of the time – and that when the 1% happens (which it will), the recovery will be swift. I came back from holiday on Tuesday morning and everything was there, done, ready. There was no engine to crank back up, no mistakes to rectify, no massive email backlog, no mountain of paperwork, no fights to break up, no clients feeling unappreciated. You see, at the end of the day, Phillippa’s job is to make my life easier – and she does that very well. As owners, we all need an Audrey or a Phillippa and that applies whether we are a one-person business, a budding £1m practice, £10m micro-corporate, a start up or a 100% Growth candidate. We have all got enough to do in growing our businesses, without worrying that what we have already created is working properly – that should be the proverbial “no-brainer”. Every new Audrey or Phillippa who has worked for me has had the same briefing:

  1. for the first three months I expect you to regard what we do as chaos – to NOT understand it all;

  2. in the second three months I expect you to get your head around it;

  3. during that 6 months, don’t expect me to train, consult or coach you – I have clients to look after – if you have a question either find out the answer on Google, from a colleague or ask me if no-one else can give you the answer;

  4. after 6 months, I expect you to be walking all over it, telling me what to do and suggesting ways we can improve. I expect you to own it.

In answer to questions 2 & 3 above – the person who gets the job is the one most likely to fulfil those criteria over the next 6 months. By 1st March 2016 (or sooner), you should expect to have the easiest life possible in business. If your existing manager isn’t making your life effortless (and has been in the role for more than 6 months), it’s too late – get a new one.

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