Resist the temptation to do it yourself. When I came out of college, I was pretty confident even cocky. I figured I could do everything and do it better than everyone else.
As a result, I tried to do everything. I wanted to get involved and do everything, period. My challenge was learning how to delegate and let go.
Some people think they delegate by telling somebody to do something, and then they’re constantly following them and looking over their shoulder. That was my hardest challenge.
When I was vice president and general manager of a couple divisions here at Met-Pro, I moved up into corporate and I had to replace myself. The guy who had to replace me had the toughest job in the company, because I knew those businesses.
If I hadn’t learned years ago how to delegate, I may have stunted his growth and his ability to do what I needed him to do with those divisions. I was able to stand back and let him run his business, rather than micromanage or tell him how to run his business. We both benefited from that.
There were times when he called me on the phone, and I could have gave him a quick answer and I’d say, ‘No, go back and think about it. Then come back to me and tell me what you think. I’ll let you know if you’re walking off a cliff.’
He’s done a good job because of it. You’ve got to let go. If you move somebody into a new position, you’ve got to let them do their job. That’s what you hired them for, and that’s what you told them you were going to let them do. So you’ve got to let them do it, or you’re going to lose that person.
Ask for opinions and mean it. You have to listen; you have to be able to let somebody take you on. Let them question you, and question why does it have to be this way?
You have to be flexible enough to change. If you’re just pounding your thoughts and ideas onto them, it’s not going to work. They have to take owner-
ship, because I’m not good enough or smart enough by myself to do it. I need these people in order to do what we feel the company needs to do. They have to buy in and take ownership of this thing. If they don’t, it’s doomed for failure.
The key is to be flexible enough, be open-minded enough and allow them to have their say. When they’re right, admit they’re right, when you’re wrong, admit you’re wrong. Then, do what’s best for the company. But if you get them to buy in, they can take it down to their organizations and hopefully get their people to buy in, too. If people don’t buy in, you can have the best plan in world it’s not going to work.
Give authority along with responsibility. I have an assistant right now, and I laid out for him the different things he needs to do. I don’t micromanage him. He has certain responsibilities and the authority to do the job, and I don’t try to circumvent that authority.
You can give responsibility to somebody, but that responsibility still sits with you as the CEO. But you can give away the authority to make decisions, and that’s what I do. If you work for me and I say this is what I need you to do, I will give you the authority to make that decision. If you make a mistake, that’s OK.
I surround myself with good people,
and I allow them to make decisions at the level they are at, accordingly. I can’t make the decision for everybody.
Land and keep great employees by thinking like a job candidate. We’ve all been through an interview. You’re looking at the long term as far as what potential exists for him or her, and you have to be able to articulate it.
You have to have either a company with a good track record or a plan to become successful that you can articulate to a candidate. Once you’ve convinced them there is potential for job growth and that it fits their need, you need to offer a fair compensation and benefits package.
Once they accept your offer, you need to make sure their job is what you described during the interview. The worst thing you could do is have an interview with someone, describe the job, describe the potential, and they come on board and none of that’s true. You’re going to lose that person almost immediately. So, you have to make sure the job is what you described.
When in doubt, ask. My first review out of college, my manager said to me, ‘You ask a hell of a lot of questions!’ And I said, ‘Yeah, because I want to learn.’
Too many people are afraid to question things. When I came to Met-Pro, I came from the air pollution control side of the business. I was hired to run a pump company, which I knew nothing about. As a result, it was easy for me to question things.
The one thing I hate is when I would ask somebody why we do it this way and they say because we always have done it this way, instead of saying, ‘What’s the best way to do it?’
The greatest lesson is, ‘Ask questions.’ Don’t believe you have all the facts. Ask the question. Don’t assume or be complacent. Even though things are going well, ask, ‘Can we do it better?’
HOW TO REACH: Met-Pro Corp., (215) 723-6751 or www.met-pro.com