One of the greatest gifts you can give to your employees as a business owner is to create a culture of lifelong learning in your organisation. Your aim should be to develop your people so that they can take over from you eventually. This philosophy goes way beyond the Owner’s Trap where founders don’t want to hand over to the next generation. Many owners fall into the hub and spoke method of managing the daily operations where every decision must be approved by them, the “hub”, which slows down decision making and the development of your people.
The idea here is to grow your people so that you don’t have to manage the day-to-day operations of the business. In fact, this is all about allowing your staff to flourish and grow to eventually become business owners themselves, either in your business or theirs.
There are many ways to achieve this culture of lifelong learning, including the formal route of furthering qualifications, or the informal method of raising the standard of knowledge of your employees with work-related skills. Some companies encourage mentoring subordinates where the senior manage/leader imparts knowledge in a structured manner to develop the next level of leaders to take over that position.
Another method is to delegate certain projects to the next level, again in a structured manner to ensure that mistakes are used as training tools and avoid catastrophic consequences to the business.
By conducting internships, your company could also develop a steady pipeline of trained employees that are trained to your requirements. The senior people that must train the interns will automatically develop themselves in this process, a win-win situation for your business.
At a very practical level, a wealth of knowledge resides with you as the owner, and your management team. These are probably your first few employees that were employed at a time when everybody had to know how to do everything in the business. The trick at your growth phase is to get that collective knowledge documented so that the next generation of leaders in the business have access to that priceless knowledge.
Record the processes, flow-charts, connections that you and your team know intuitively as you have been doing it for so long into standard operating procedures. This could either be the old-fashioned way of pen and paper, or even better, to store this vital knowledge base in an electronic format online. That way, it will be preserved and be accessible for your people from anywhere, at any time.
This is a legacy that far exceeds any material or monetary hand-out and people will remember you with a sense of deep gratitude for the very real difference you have made to their lives.
Far too many founders fall into the Owner’s Trap and quite simply end up with a business that is not investable.