By Jon Crandall
As a business evolves and grows, it is vital for an owner to develop a team member to serve as his or her right hand or second in charge. Our business has become more complex over 20 years of growth. I have been a maintenance technician, landscape construction foreman, salesman, bookkeeper, operations and account manager, leadership team manager and visionary. Each progression was only successful when an exceptional employee picked up the responsibilities I had left behind.
At each step, that employee became my No. 2 and the one who had my back. But they didn’t necessarily move ahead with me as I grew as an owner and leader. For example, for a few years my landscape maintenance foreman was my right-hand man. As time went on my bookkeeper became my No. 2, as she was the only other person in my office. That’s not to say my landscape foreman stopped having my back. He still did, but I relied on my bookkeeper more and more heavily. As this evolution occurred, we built something special. More and more people had the interest of my business in mind while leading and making decisions. After going through this evolution several times, some with the same No. 2 elevating and some with a new No. 2 coming on board, I found some similarities or success formulas.
1. Create a system or process and set up parameters of what is reasonable and what is not essential. Creating obtainable goals and incentives to reach them has worked well for us. In my experience, employees in a leadership role are result-oriented. They need to know how to score and how to keep score. They need to know if they are winning and some history on how that has been achieved in the past. It is amazing how much information is filed away in your head that you don’t realize until you start to write down the standard operating procedures or guidebook for the person taking on your old role. The best employees will take the best practice from your past and make it even better.
2. Finding a coach, mentor, consultant or organized class for your No. 2 or any employee for that matter to learn and grow has always paid dividends for us. Having them hear a perspective outside of my own is extremely helpful and sets them up for success. I am not an expert in everything, and hearing from someone besides the boss can sometimes be more effective.
3. Choose wisely. When putting someone in such a high-level role, I do my best to ensure they want the role and have the capacity and support to move into it. It is equally important that the person naturally lives up to our company core values and has the company’s best interests in mind. I can always tell when our employees genuinely cared for JC Grounds and me. In my experience it is a mutual respect that can only be earned through time and the building of strong relationships.
How will you know if the person in the new role is working? When that person is doing your old role better than you. This has happened to me time and time again. They are able to concentrate on that specific role and are not wearing multiple hats. If you have chosen wisely, the team member is probably a better fit for the role and will enjoy the work more than you did. The proudest moments come when a team member does something better than I had done it before. Their success means the company will be successful, which is a gauge of my own success.
I enjoy sharing the successes and achievements of my employees much more than any of my own. You’ll know they have successfully become the No. 2 when the ship is still sailing and you are away from the helm.
From the bookshelf
Following are a few of Jon Crandall’s favorite books on building a management team:
- “The Self-Managing Company” by Dan Sullivan - Learn more here and here
- “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business” and “Get a Grip: An Entrepreneurial Fable” by Gino Wickman - Learn more here
- “Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships that Create Success and Won’t Let You Fail” by Keith Ferrazzi - Learn more here
Jonathan Crandall is chief visionary for JC Grounds Management. Contact him at email@example.com.