Whose Task Is It Anyway?
In most small businesses it’s common for employees to wear multiple hats/fulfill multiple roles. There are good reasons for this, for instance all businesses have accounts payable, but most small businesses do not have enough account payable tasks that justify a full-time position.
So small businesses owners do what they do best, they see a problem and they solve it. This could mean that they take the task on as their responsibility, or they find someone on their team to complete the task.
The problem with this is that the solution is often a short-term fix. It works for right now, but as the business changes it can cause issues. Common issues might include:
- The owner gets overwhelmed because they are taking on too many tasks themselves.
- A team member leaves or gets promoted, and their “job” is a mosaic of different tasks that makes it hard to find someone to replace them. In essence the business has created a “unicorn.”
- The business grows and the tasks start taking up more time and resources leaving your employees to struggle to get their work complete.
- The owner isn’t able to complete $100 plus an hour work (strategy, growth, etc.), because they are doing work that they could pay someone $20 an hour to complete.
Jobs end up being defined in the moment and at random, without a lot of strategy in place. And when this happens, often there are inefficiencies, balls dropped, or even growth that is stunted.
The answer isn’t to have things set in concrete, because we know that in small businesses flexibility is key to survival. To thrive, your business must be able to fulfill the tasks that are needed today with the team that you have today. At the same time, it does your business good to have a strategy in place with how you’ll navigate some of the issues above.
At Benchmark Business Group, our coaches have the tools and experience to help you design a business that works today combined with the strategy it needs for growth. A few tips we share with our clients include:
- When you define the roles for each employee, estimate the average weekly hours each task will take to complete. Be sure to complete time studies every six months to ensure these estimates are correct and to discover when the tasks are growing too large for one person to handle.
- Assign a dollar value to every task. Then look at what you pay the person completing that task. This will help you discover if you’re paying the right person to do the work. This is also a great place to ask, would outsourcing this task be cheaper and more effective? This is especially important for high-level employees who not only get paid more, but then are not able to get to more strategic tasks and thus stunt the growth of the business.
- For each employee, highlight any tasks that are currently done by the employee that isn’t a part of their role. This could be tasks they do because they like that work, they have a side talent, or they just sort of “fell” into the role. As mentioned, sometimes in small businesses this will happen. It’s not always a bad situation. But it can become a bad situation if it’s stopping you from promoting someone, if you fear they may leave the company, or if you must rehire. As you look at these tasks that are outside of the “norm” create a plan for what you’d do if they quit in two weeks. You’ll probably identify places you could outsource, systems that need to be created, tasks that need to be cross-trained, etc. This will help ensure that you’re not creating a “unicorn” position within your business.
- For each employee highlight the tasks that should be a part of their position, but that they simply don’t have time to do. Often, these are areas that get delayed and stunt growth. Tasks like creating systems, prospecting, growth strategies, training, etc. Then once you’ve identified these you can use the other bullets to help solve how the business can get these tasks done as well. This might include hiring, outsourcing, creating systems/training, or moving these tasks to another position, etc.