Coasting is Costing Your Business.
I’ve seen this in my career many times: a tenured manager who is really good at his job. Nothing terribly wrong with this scenario, right? We all want committed, good employees. But this is actually a hidden trap for business owners. When good people stay good and aren’t challenged, they don’t learn new tricks. They coast through their day, stay in their lane and build deeply ingrained habits. The longer that they stay good in their role means that they don’t get the chance to evolve and grow. Which limits them in the future and costs your business in the present.
Coasting is costing your business by holding your managers back and keeping them harnessed to one area of expertise. In the hospitality world this is a common issue. The maître d’ never gets hands-on with finances because someone else handles it. The wine director never gets his hands dirty with operations because he doesn’t have to. The chef who was a line cook before doesn’t have to learn more about employee relations because there is an HR team in place. This niche knowledge is great for the short term but not so great in the long term.
Your business is the sum of its parts. When your key employees are stuck doing one thing well it can cost your business by limiting its future impact. A limited business has trouble growing and expanding. A limited business has trouble innovating and evolving. And the employees who are not encouraged to grow instead grow critically out of date with their knowledge and skills.
So how do you involve tenured staff members in the various parts of your business? How do you empower them to branch out and learn something new or take on an increased level of responsibility?
What you must do is inform and educate your team members while holding each of them accountable. Everyone has something that they are not so good at; we all operate with a deficiency in one area or another. So as leaders we must put the information out there (ie: reading and comprehending the P&L) and then make competency around this information a requirement for all managers. You must give them the info, hold them accountable, offer support and test their proficiency.
I worked at one operation where the managers all had to switch their tasks throughout the year. So once you developed a proficiency at writing the staff schedule, 6 months later you would be moved to overseeing the china, glass and silver purchases for the restaurant. This usually got groans from the managers: now that I have this down you give me something new? Arrgh!!
In truth, this is how you work out a muscle: by pushing it to do more than it is used to. This is how you build knowledge, how you build strength, how you build confidence. Not through coasting at being great at what you know but by stumbling, asking for help and pushing to gain more knowledge. It is a humbling thing to experience: going from being knowledgeable and confident to feeling like you haven’t a clue about a new task or challenge.
In order to create a dynamic, capable and committed team we must build each member up, every single day. Challenge your team to acknowledge their deficits and conquer their fears; then hold up your end of the bargain by offering support and accountability to a higher standard. Growing muscles you never knew you had is a cool process; one that helps you discover what you’re made of, spread your wings, and take flight.