Thursday, November 8th, 2018

My client had hired, at significant expense, a new Operations Director.

After a month he was already unhappy with his new hire’s performance.  I asked him how he was assessing this and the answer was, in essence, based on what he saw and heard; how he felt about what she was spending her time on.  It became apparent that this was the approach he was going to use at the end of her probation period to make a decision that would have serious consequences for both of them.

I asked him how he and his new employee had agreed what success in the role looked like.  This time the answer was, not to put too fine a point on it, that they hadn’t.  My client looked rather shame-faced as he described his communication to her (and his other staff) as “stream of consciousness stuff”.  When we discussed the way he might measure success for this role he readily identified one key number: Net increased hours of service delivered.  He also identified contributing numbers in recruitment, staff retention and new hours sold.

It wasn’t obvious to me how the Operations Director could control all of these outcomes; parts of recruitment and sales in particular seemed to be outside her control.  When I asked where recruitment reported the answer was “Errr…both of us, I suppose”.  After further discussion my client decided that actually recruitment should report to the Ops Director and the only reason he was involved was that he always had been.

delegation process

The delegation periodic table

It also transpired that the way they ran recruitment was, whilst effective, completely undocumented.  This craft-skill approach applied to sales and indeed every process in the business not subject to external compliance.  Different branches and different employees did their best but in different ways and with different results.

He agreed that it didn’t seem sensible (or fair) to fire someone for not achieving a target they didn’t know about by relying upon someone they didn’t manage following processes that existed only in other people’s heads.

The bad news is that lots of growing businesses have this problem.  The good news is that there is a solution.  You can find out about it at this event.

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