Peer to peer: Why the boss can’t stay a jack of all trades

What does it mean to work yourself out of your job? How do I know it’s time to do so?

Rod Hsu - President, nTrust

The most successful companies run on their own with little guidance in pursuit of their goals. The key is having the mindset to work yourself out of your job. Does this mean you are actually working toward unemployment? Not at all. It means recognizing that a jack-of-all-trades mentality might not be what your business needs to achieve success and longevity. Instead, consider where your time, energy and skills would be best spent. This will empower your team members to grow and build the next generation of leaders that best serve the organization’s goal.

1) Establish company-focused objectives and vision: You want all members of your team working toward a common goal and shared vision. Encourage your leaders to share this mindset and give them the tools and information needed to make good business decisions. When a mistake is made, give your team time to figure it out on their own. If you make it a habit to immediately dive in and help out, your team will become accustomed to relying on you even for the smallest issues.

2) Delegate: Delegation is not about offloading work, but about cultivating new leaders. This means determining the tasks and responsibilities at hand and identifying the team members who can benefit and grow from being involved in those tasks and experiences.

3) Automate: Audit your processes and keep in mind the importance of streamlining your business. Be critical and objective – your decisions may not please everyone, but it’s important to have your company goals and objectives in mind.

Jen Riley - Head of marketing, Wiivv Wearables Inc.

Launching a business is an exercise in persistence and requires extreme agility. Most startups begin with just a couple of bodies who wear a collection of hats until the business reaches viability. Planning ahead, know that you will to need to hire to move work off your own plate as you scale. Identify the skills you know you’re lacking and think about how your strategy will need to shift as your business grows. Maximize the skills you have in-house while keeping an eye on where you are going to need to hire to fill in the gaps. Determining the right time to move into a higher-level role can often be more challenging than recognizing a skills gap.

Any startup knows that keeping operations lean in the beginning is important, but what are other key indicators that it’s time to take a step back and scale your business?

Startups can spend months, or even years, on research and development and multiple iterations before launching publicly. Focus first on getting this right – but don’t forget the importance of your go-to-market strategy out of the gate. Hiring one senior-level marketer early in the process can ensure you will be ready to hit the market successfully.

When customer experience starts to slip, you need to look at scaling outside of R&D and toward marketing and customer experience.

It can be difficult to let go of the reins when you’ve had your hands in various projects from the start, but building the right team and learning to delegate roles effectively will put your company on the road to success.

Marni Johnson - Senior vice-president of human resources and communications, BlueShore Financial

A key element of taking your business to new heights is your ability to recognize when it is time to move from the role of a “doer” to that of a leader and facilitator. This important turning point is accompanied by its own set of benefits and challenges.

Keeping employees engaged and motivated, as well as encouraging them to grow in their roles, is crucial to reaching the point at which you can take a step back from the day-to-day. Placing trust in your team is a necessary step in leadership; it also forces you outside of your comfort zone to grow as a leader.

Letting go of activities and functions you enjoy is another important dimension of moving into the leadership role. This can be difficult but is vital to building a strong team that isn’t reliant on your presence to get the job done. Stepping back might involve hiring team members who know more about an area of the job than you do. Managing this turning point effectively and with the right mindset will allow you to focus your energies as a leader elsewhere, such as removing barriers that limit your team’s success or developing new areas of the business.

I often think of author Paul Sloane’s wise words, “Only do what only you can do.”

Don’t spend your time doing something that could (or should) be performed by another member of your team. Focus on elements that require your unique capabilities. This will allow your business to cover new ground, while developing a strong, successful and engaged team.