When a shop owner is talking to his staff, they need to make sure they’re assuming the right role: Are they supposed to be assessing the situation and work of their employee or are they supposed to be coming up with the solutions?
Brandon Smith, an executive coach and “workplace therapist,” simplified these roles as editor and author, respectively. In other words, your staff should be the author in most cases while you, the owner, should most often be the editor.
That means your staff are coming to you not just with a problem, but with a solution for it. They’re authoring the idea. As their boss, the owner is to “edit” the idea and make sure it’s good enough to be put into action.
“The key is to know what seats to sit in when. And so to cut to the chase, in a perfect world, as a leader, I want you to sit in the editor seat 80 per cent of the time and the author seat only 20 [per cent],” Smith said at NAPA Expo 2022 during his session, Going From Working “In” the Business to “On” the Business
Often, leadership fails when the roles are reversed: The employee comes looking for help, the boss “authors” a solution and the employee “edits” it to see if they like it well enough to implement.
Workplace expert Brandon Smith talks at NAPA Expo 2022 in Las Vegas
An employer can tell who their better employees are and who is on the other end of the spectrum by using this method. The best will come with a solution for you to review; the not-so-good ones will throw their arms up and ask you to figure out the answer, Smith said.
“What they’ve done is they’ve reeled you into that author seat. And now you’re either telling them what to do, which takes more time, or you just say, ‘You know what, don’t worry about it. It’s quicker if I do it,’” he described.
What this leads to is the shop owner taking time away from more important tasks that would help build the business. So, to the theme of Smith’s talk, the owner is spending less time working on the business.
“We don’t solve the problem for them,” Smith emphasized. “It’s tempting because things move so fast to just jump in and solve [things] for them. But when we do that, we’re holding them back, we’re holding ourselves back.”
The ultimate goal of the owner is to coach and elevate their staff so the shop can run seamlessly without their constant input. When your staff can run the business without you being there, then you are free to plan the next steps of the company.
When you’re evaluating staff, you want to see three primary traits to know that they’re good “authors,” according to Smith: They take ownership, show initiative and display critical thinking.
“I recognize not everyone on our team does that. But that’s what we’re trying to,” Smith said. “If we’re constantly telling them how to do something, we’re stripping them from the opportunity of [growing], and we’re not able to tell exactly who our rockstars are.”