Some of you may already know that my wonderful wife Lisa is a kindergarten teacher, and when we got engaged she insisted that she wanted to be able to take spring break trips with her family.
As a 25-year-old, running a business before cell phones were prevalent, the thought of taking a week off in March or April gave me hives.I'll set the scene: it's Spring Break 1993. Landline phones were corded, our landscape drawings and work orders were all done by hand, and we had radios to communicate with team members while they were out on jobs. While I was out of town, it would be difficult for my team to get ahold of me.
My kids at the beach near their Grandma's on Spring Break 2001.
Before I left, I tried to tell my team everything they'd need to know, and I left them with a notebook to write down any questions or frustrations they had while I was gone. When I got back, the notebook was full.
So we worked on the list. I taught others on the team what I knew, and got better at sharing the information crews would need to do their job ahead of when they started. The list identified gaps that were holding us back, and we were able to get better as a company while working on them. Spring Break 1994, we repeated the process and the notebook wasn't quite as full.
This process made us all better as a team. It forced me to be clearer in my drawings and work orders so my team didn't need to radio me with questions, it gave other leaders the chance to step up and prove themselves, and it forced us to share information so the business was no longer dependent on any one person.
You can go low-tech like I did and start lessening your team's reliance on you by following the notebook process, or go higher tech and keep track in a shared document on your network.
Either way, my message to you is this: the most valuable and successful companies can operate without the owner present. That doesn't mean you can abdicate your responsibilities, but it does mean you should be teaching and mentoring other leaders on your team so that it's not a complete catastrophe when you take a day, or a week or two, off.
Grunder Landscaping Co. today has a strong leadership team who I am impressed by daily. They step up for each other, and they're always thinking like the owner would. We're opening up our doors next month forour GLC Field Trip, come learn directly from the people who made all this possible, and see the processes we've created to make it easy for any leaders to take time away August 18-19 or September 22-23.