Have you ever walked into your job and it’s just one of those days when you wish that you could just fire yourself?
Well I say, let's quit talking about it and just do it!
As we mentioned in How Much is My Cabinet Shop Worth? firing yourself is absolutely key to your shop succeeding and growing in value. Take a look back in case you need a refresher.
Easier said than done
The difficulty with firing yourself comes in actually doing it.
It's easier said than done to fire yourself, however, it is possible. You just have to ultimately decide that there are activities that as a leader, or an owner, you do not need to be doing. And when you do figure out how to actually fire yourself from some of these activities, you will start wanting that freeing feeling more and more and you’ll want to delegate out all the tasks you possibly can.
In this article we are going to lay down a framework for firing yourself every day. We're going learn how to commit to firing ourselves from activities that are holding us back from working on our businesses instead of in them.
So, before we dive in, let's define what we mean by firing ourselves. What I mean by firing ourselves is that there are tasks as owners or manufacturers that we don't need to be doing.
For instance, as an owner you probably do not need to be running the table saw. If you were free of that activity you would have more time to sell, draw, or work on the business.
When you fire yourself it is just like when you fire an employee. When you fire an employee, that employee doesn't come back. You have to have the same firing mentality with yourself as you do with an employee. When you fire yourself from an activity, you are done with it, for good.
Why fire myself?
So what happens when you actually start firing yourself from activities?
Firing yourself could quite possibly be one of the most rewarding experiences you ever have as a business owner. It has been for me. It is like a drug and once you get on it, it's hard to quit. You just want to keep doing it because it puts you in the position to finally move your shop to where you know it can be.
What if I told you that you could start firing yourself today, right now? Would you do it? Hopefully after reading this article you'll understand a few ways that you can do so
How I Fired myself
Over the last couple years I have been firing myself from activities and replacing that time with working on the business. Doing so has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had as a business owner, so now I want to share my journey so that somebody else will hopefully get to experience it too.
The first activity I fired myself from was running the machines on the shop floor. At first, it seemed like a simple task but it proved to be difficult. I failed the first time because I did not have enough employees to actually replace me. Within a few weeks, I was back on the shop floor. Next time, before trying again, I started creating a few simple SOPs. This time it stuck. I found the right person, trained him and never looked back.
The second thing I fired myself from was being on the shop floor. This meant I was no longer going to be micromanaging every detail on the shop floor. Yes, I still get on the shop floor and talk with employees, get ideas, and check production but I don't physically run the shop floor anymore. I had to get that day to day shop floor production off my plate. Since then, we’ve finally been able to start keeping schedules and having on time deliveries of higher quality.
I've fired myself from countless other activities since then and I'm not stopping any time soon.
Now lets dive into how you can fire yourself.
4 Steps to Fire Yourself Every Day
Step 1: Your One Thing
First, find one thing you do everyday that is unnecessary for you to do. In my business the one thing was very easy to find and I assume it will be for many other small businesses too. I was the typical the owner/operator of my business, so I started with an activity that I did every day repeatedly that I had no business doing. The activity was running a couple machines, like the table saw.
*HINT*: "Running a couple machines" sounds innocent enough, but it was truly keeping me from moving our business in the right direction. It’s often a bunch of these small “innocent” tasks added up that will keep you the most busy.
I’ll tell you that my first and second attempts to fire myself from the shop floor were absolute failures. As soon as I got one of the employees trained to do what I was doing on the shop floor he quit and went to work for somebody else. So guess that who was back on the table saw? You’re right! It was me.
I figured the third time was a charm, so I went for it again. This time though, I decided that regardless who of who is running the table saw, there has to be a process in place for running that machine. So I began writing down the process for my SOPs. This way, turnover or a sick day doesn’t result in me on the table saw because there are clearly marked processes for any employee to rely on. Since then, I’ve been able to truly fire myself, regardless of who is operating the machine.
This brings me to Step 2.
Step 2: Lay the Framework for Firing
The second step to firing yourself is creating the environment for you to truly fire yourself. Remember, by firing yourself, you are committing to no longer doing that task, period. So in order to fire ourselves permanently we have to create high quality, easily understandable, updateable SOPs.
SOPs lay the framework for everybody in the business to understand how you as an owner or leader expect things to be done. It also helps bring your knowledge and experience as an owner to every person or employee on the shop floor without you being right there by their side every step of the way.
We use Trello for creating and updating our SOPs. It’s a wonderful App that makes it easy to access, easy to update and easy to add/subtract content. You can learn more about how we use Trello in our How to Make it in the Cabinet Industry Articles, Delegate or Die or Standardizing Systems.
Step 3: Trust But Verify
This is a great but underutilized tool by many owners.
When you start a process like firing yourself, you have to realize that your first attempt will probably be completely unsuccessful or semi unsuccessful. So make sure when you put new procedures in place or you delegate out your task as owners that you trust, but verify.
At first you need to do this possibly daily or every other day. But either way you need to trust but verify on a regular basis. Trust your employee to do their job. Don’t micromanage but verify that they are in fact doing them and doing them well.
When you pulled yourself out of doing every activity and entrust employees to do it for themselves, you are empowering the employees to do their jobs even better.
Step 4: Rinse and Repeat
The more you go through this process of firing yourself every day, you are going to find that you have created more time for yourself to get out in front of the business and guide the business. Your ultimate function as a leader is to be an ambassador of your company’s vision, and in order to do that you have to be in front of the company leading them, not lost somewhere in the middle overwhelmed by day to day tasks.
You Will NEver Look Back
For me, firing myself has ultimately put our business in the position where it is providing high quality products on a repeatable basis, on time, with better margins. Start by firing yourself from your one thing and see how it can put you on the track to the same thing.
Trust me, once you start, you will never look back.