Want to Look More Professional? Turn Off Your Phone
Content was originally published on Inc.com on September 10, 2019.
As a business coach for over twenty five years, I have pretty much seen and heard it all. But today, I wanted to talk about something that I see more and more in the business community, and why it’s a sign that there is a problem in your business.
Let me begin by setting the scene.
You and I scheduled our first coaching session together two weeks prior. We have been in contact, exchanged emails and shared preliminary information about your business, your challenges and your victories. And it is now time to set aside an hour to work together on the most pressing issues within your business. I review my notes and log into our video conferencing platform.
You arrive on time, and we begin the coaching session.
Five minutes in, your phone rings. You apologize (looking flustered) and step away from the computer for a second to take the call. A few minutes pass and you join the session again, looking distracted. We pick up where we left off, only to be interrupted again a few minutes later with a text from your assistant asking where a file is in the office. And the cycle continues for the remainder of our coaching session.
A customer wanted to get a quote on some new widgets….
Your marketing manager had an idea for a new campaign…
Your accountant had a question about a receipt from your last business trip….
I have seen this before, and when I ask you about the abundance of interruptions you say:
“I have to be reachable by my business…”
As in, “If I’m not accessible and on top of texts, emails, and voicemails constantly, my business might implode.”
No. Sure at one time or for short periods, you may need to be available and on top of things, but if this has become a permanent state of affairs then that means you the business owner have a fundamentally weak business, likely due to a real lack of systems, trained team, and strong internal controls. And this in turn is usually caused by an owner who is afraid of letting go of “control” or an owner who just has never learned how to build his or her company a better way.
Turn Off Your Phone and Work On Your Systems
You want your team to have the authority to get tasks done without running everything past you. You want them to take the initiative and have the discretion to make decisions and get valuable work done without you being the limiting factor that slows the business down.
At the same time, you want to ensure that the business is protected–that the right things are getting done, at the right time, and hence producing the right results. Your business must be confident that resources are focused on what matters most, and that simple mistakes that can and should easily be avoided, are.
For example, you might formalize how you give team members levels of decision-making authority that aligns with their experience and the degree of consequence if they decide poorly.
Or you might institute weekly reporting of key indicators that help your team monitor performance and trends and proactively respond to changes in your business.
Or you might introduce a key checklist that your operations team follows to make sure they don’t miss a simple step in the process.
However you decide to do it, the key is to give your team the tools and systems needed to run the business without you. So that you can spend your hour with me (or a key client, investor, key hire etc…) in peace.