I have no idea what it’s like to start and then grow a company to the point of needing your first, and then your tenth, and then your hundredth employee. However, I do know this—somewhere along the way, the successful entrepreneur may find she has become the bottleneck to a number of processes.
In truth, some things that make sense for small companies don’t make sense for larger ones.
And so, as the company grows, the CEO has to let some stuff go. That’s why CEO’s shouldn’t …
Review every contract
Now I know this can be tricky, because contracts are intended to bind parties, and the smart leader doesn’t just hand over that kind of authority to any old body. Still, as the business grows, more and more contracts will come into play—from freelancers to the payroll provider to the janitorial service. Checks and balances (such as trained staff, intelligent procedures, and templates that have been verified and are regularly updated by legal counsel) are no-brainer important, but it may be past time for your top leader to eyeball each and every agreement.
Review every performance evaluation
Your leaders should be dealing in high-level information, not reviewing all the piddly details. When it comes to performance evaluations, this means the top guy or gal should review a summary of information, with outliers (really poor performers and top performers) clearly identified. Data by department, division, function, or however it makes sense to slice and dice for your company will ensure your leader knows what’s going on without having to plod through extraneous data. Again, good foundational processes are essential here.
Be the go-to employee relations guru
Generally speaking, the more people the more complex the people issues. If managers are in the habit of running to the top leader instead of … oh, I don’t know … HR whenever employee relations issues arise, you’re setting yourself up for inconsistent, unfair, and perhaps even illegal decisions. Resolving employee relations issues well requires a knowledge of the law, skill in appropriately applying the law to specific situations, good analytical skills, good people skills, good communication skills, and a level of objectivity that’s hard to find when YOUR direct report is in the middle of the mix. These issues also can be psychologically taxing and a distraction from the bigger picture. Now why is your CEO doing this again?
Effective delegation is essential to good leadership on any level, but especially at the highest levels.
And it matters little why the leader hasn’t relieved himself of certain duties. Even if the CEO’s direct reports prefer that he or she handle employee relations issues (maybe because it allows them to bypass HR as well?—just a question…) refusal to make the transition stalls growth and frustrates those hired to do the job.
CEOs shouldn’t do that.