Passing the Four Week Test

…with flying colours.

Last week I posed some questions. Supposing you walked out of the office door and didn’t come back for four weeks. What would happen to your

 Sales and revenues?
 Stock control, production and delivery?
 Relationship with your clients/customers?
 And what would be the biggest problem you faced when – tanned and smiling – you eventually came back?

As I said last week, ideally the answers would be nothing, nothing, nothing and ‘there wouldn’t be one.’ The trouble is that we don’t live in a perfect world and for most TAB members and potential members the Four Week Test provides an all too reliable examination of the business they’re building.

So, assuming you’re running a small to medium sized business and that the success of the business is in large part down to you, how do you pass the FWT? As I said, at some stage you have to pass – because if you don’t the business won’t be a very attractive proposition as and when you finally want to sell it.

Obviously, it comes down to your team: the people who are going to be left behind when you go on your gap month.

What’s the first step in making sure your team cope while you’re away? Simples. Hiring the best people in the first place. We’ll look at recruitment and the key qualities you want in a future blog, but if I’ve learnt one thing in my life it is this: key members of staff have to be right. Don’t ever hire someone because they’re the best of a bad bunch – the last man standing when the music stops. Better to struggle on until Mr Right does turn up. To slightly mangle the old saying, ‘Hire in haste, repent at leisure.’

Assuming you’ve found the right people, motivate them. Yes, that means money and yes, it may mean giving them the chance to acquire some equity in the business. But read this blog from a Board member: there are plenty of ways of getting the best from your staff, and this is one I must admit I hadn’t previously considered.

An essential part of motivating people is trusting them. It’s a lot like children: Dan’s getting older and we’re getting to the stage where we have to say, “OK, if that’s the decision you want to make, we’ll go with it. And we’ll support you.” The key word there is support: you’ve got to let people make decisions and you have to support those decisions, even though you may not agree with them 100%. Have faith; you may be pleasantly surprised…

Hand in hand with that goes the ability to delegate: ultimately it’s the quality in a leader that will allow you to get your work and your life properly balanced. It’s interesting that as TAB York develops a lot of the conversations I used to have about building a business have been replaced by conversations about delegating and time away from the business. That must be a good sign…

Choose the right people, motivate them and trust them and you’ll be amazed at what they can achieve. And even more, what they can achieve without you there. Being away gives people the chance to step up, take responsibility and try things they probably wouldn’t attempt if you were there.

Who knows, there might come a time when they’re suggesting you take another four week break…

Next week I’m looking at the management of stress – but in the meantime, here’s a quiz question. A bottle of red wine and some serious kudos if you can tell me who came up with this piece of advice on time management:

A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.


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