Managing the managers on your team requires an entirely different skill set than managing the implementers on your team. As you step into that role of agency owner and CEO you’ll soon realize that you have to break a few habits that you’ve formed and start forming new ones to be able to empower your team to run your business.
In this episode, I am uncovering the two major transitions to consider as you start to lead managers. You’ll learn why this is vastly different from managing implementers and why this can feel like a difficult transition.
I’ll also share what it means to become a coach for your managers and how to cultivate a culture that empowers your team to make key decisions and judgment calls.
Welcome to The Scale Your Way podcast episode number 78.
You’re listening to the Scale Your Way podcast, where we share simple, proven strategies just for done for you service based companies here, you’ll learn how to scale your business on your own terms so that you can have more time, money, create a bigger impact and a better life. I’m your host, Nicole Jackson Miller. Let’s dive into today’s episode.
Hey, everyone, welcome back to the show. I am having a great day, you may hear some birds chirping my window open, stepping into the fall weather here in Maryland. It is lovely. I love the cool mornings and warm days. It’s just the best. So I’m also excited because of today’s topic.
This topic is something that has really changed the businesses and lives of the clients that I’ve worked with who are looking to bring in managers or who maybe already have managers in their business that are leading their implementers and being able to transition from managing implementers on their team to leading the managers that are on their team who are managing the implementers.
Now, you’ve heard me talk before about the identity shifts that you go through as an agency owner. So when you first start your business, you are typically done for your service provider. You are the one person offering the services to your clients. Then you transition to having a team of people. Typically, those people are implementers at first. Sometimes people start by hiring a manager, but those managers really need implementers to manage. So I often see service providers hiring implementors first, managing the implementers and then bringing in managers who lead their implementers.
And when you fully step into the role of agency owner and the identity as an agency owner, your job becomes leading the managers on your team that are then leading the implementers on your team. And this can require a different skill set. It requires a different mindset. It requires you to break some of the habits that you have formed, which has really been there to serve your company up until this point and start forming new habits so that you can be able to empower your team to run your business.
So today we’re going to be talking about what happens when you’re ready to start outsourcing, managing those implementers. And again, maybe you already have managers on your team, but you want to learn some ideas, some tools to be able to lead them better. So I want you to first think about why does it feel different to manage managers versus implementors on your team? You know, some of the challenges that I’ve heard my clients having and people that I’ve talked to online is that, you know, they’re so used to being the main point of contact for their teams and for their clients. And now somebody else is going to be stepping into that role. And it just feels different. Like I said, it’s breaking those habits.
Maybe you felt that you did a really good job with it. Right. And now you’re having to release it. Or maybe you feel like you weren’t doing a good job with it. And how on earth are you supposed to be able to lead someone else to do it right if you don’t know how to do it yourself?
Some of the clients that I work with hire employees that they train into their role because their strength is the service. Oftentimes their strength is not managing people. So when it comes to bringing in a manager, if they’re used to training people to do what they do, but they don’t feel like they do it very well, it can feel really scary and intimidating.
And other things I hear from people when it comes to managing and leading is that they just don’t know what they don’t know. Right. It’s not something that they have done before. They feel like there’s probably ways that they could be doing things better and they just don’t feel like they have the knowledge or skill set to be able to do this, to be able to lead managers and sometimes even to lead a business. Right. A lot of us are figuring out as we go.
So the great thing about this is that when you do this right with the right people and with practice, leading managers is actually way easier than managing on your own, because if you hire the right people, they will do it way better than you will. They’ll come to the table with new ideas. They will definitely challenge you, which is a good thing. We need those challenges in order to change and it just feels so much better.
So before we dive in, I want you to know that this episode assumes that you already have standard operating procedures in place. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be creating more and that you won’t be changing your standard operating procedures, but that you have all of the basics in place because that is required in order for you to be able to hand off certain areas of the business, just like you were creating SOPs for your implementors to do their jobs and to implement, you need to start creating similar processes for the management of your business now, that doesn’t mean that somebody can’t come in and help you create them or partner with you to make them better, but a manager coming into your business, we’ll need to know what you have been doing up until this point and have kind of like an understanding lay of the land to be able to step in and take over what you’ve been doing, but also be to be able to make it their own too right? they need to have some sort of foundational knowledge.
So I also want to mention that leadership is an art. So I will be walking you through on this episode. Two major transitions to consider and other tips. And then in our next episode, we’re going to do a part two where I walk you through several more several more months through additional transitions. But ultimately, you use these tools, use these this information to create your own masterpiece. We are artists here.
As we walk through this, I want you to think of examples of things that have happened on your team or that you’re thinking might happen on your team as you implement this. So we take all of this ideas and information and we actually workshop it out in my program AGENCY. So if you want to learn more about that, you can go to NicoleJacksonMiller.com/apply. But I want you as you listen to this podcast, I want you to think of what these what some examples are and and try and apply some of these tips to those examples of what has happened in the past so that you can then use it moving forward. And if you want, you know, my expertise and, you know, some really great guidance and community around doing this for yourself, I highly recommend you check out AGENCY.
So with that, let’s dove into the first transition. So when you bring in implementors into your business, you are managing them, right? You’re giving them tasks. You’re giving them processes to follow. And what we want to change your role as the leader of your business is to move from being a manager of people to being a coach.
So managing managers is similar to managing anyone else. But one important difference is that managing managers requires leadership coaching, so you have to coach managers to develop the culture and the capabilities that your team needs. Right? And that there, you know, this is going to also not just be your team anymore, right? It’s going to be everyone’s team. I believe that every person on your team is a leader. Right? They can lead in their roles and that it’s not up to you to be the one in there micromanaging every day. Right? You are actually handing over the responsibilities to somebody else and your role becomes coaching them to overcome challenges and come up with new ideas. Right? And implement those things.
So your role will now shift to coaching your manager on how to lead versus you doing it yourself. And instead of solving problems for your manager, you teach them how to solve their own problems. Right? Instead of making decisions for them, you teach them how to make their own decisions. Now, it’s so funny because when I talk to people about this, they’re like, oh, that feels like a lot of work, right? So this is the beautiful thing.
As you grow, I believe, as you grow in your business, your work changes, but you still have to work, right? You just get to decide what work you want to be doing. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t step away from your business or you can’t take a vacation or you can’t decide your own schedule. But if you don’t want to work at all, having a business is not going to be for you. Right? So so your work needs to shift. The difference, though, is that what we’re doing and what we’re transitioning you to doing is making sure that your work has a return. OK, so when you are doing let’s talk about how your work changes as you go through the different phases or identities of being a business owner.
So when you’re a done for your service provider, your work is in managing yourself to actually do the implementing and managing your clients. When you move into the role of agency owner, your work becomes coaching your team into doing their work. And then when you have managers come on your team, it’s coaching your managers on, you know, solving problems and doing the work inside of your business, which is to be managing the implementers and your clients. So the work doesn’t just completely go away, but it shifts.
Now, the difference is that when you when you become a coach inside of your business, you’re actually creating a return for yourself. So every minute that you spend developing your people, what you’re doing is you’re empowering them to be able to make decisions in your business, to be able to handle situations that come up without you.
So you are still doing work, the difference is that you get a return on that so people aren’t going to be coming to you with the same things all the time. They’re going to start feeling confident and empowered in doing that work themselves. So what we’re doing is we’re coaching the team to solve their own problems or to solve the business problems.
So let’s talk let’s think about some example problems. Let’s say you have a salesperson on your team and that salesperson is not sure whether or not a lead that they’re talking to is a good fit. So they’re just there. It’s a big question mark for them. Or maybe you have a client manager and a client isn’t happy with some work that was produced. Right? That’s a challenge.
So if you have team members that are coming to you with these challenges, your new thought needs to be, I’m not going to make this decision for you. I’m not going to solve this for you. But I will support you in making the decision or I will support you through this challenge. So it’s really changing your role and what you are habitually there to do, which is probably you’ve been solving problems, right? It’s your business like you’ve been solving the problems. Right? But instead of being like, this is my problem to solve, you are actually helping them to solve the problem because they are the ones who have the information, who know their role, who are in that day to day operations that you’re just not involved in anymore.
So it’s actually better for you to help coach them in making that decision versus you stepping in to solve the problem because you don’t even know probably have all of the information to be able to do that. Right? And this is going to happen more and more and more as you step out of your business.
So what I want you to start thinking of yourself is your team is now like a coaching client. And for those of you who are like, well, I’ve never coached before, that seems daunting. It’s OK. Right? This is part of the leadership skills that you are here to develop.
So I want you to really sit with the fact that you are now becoming a coach and see what comes up for you around that. Let’s dive into what I mean when I say becoming a coach, because it’s like the idea. It’s like, OK, fine. But like, what questions do I ask? How do I do this? Right. So I always say I definitely didn’t come up with this, by the way. But to get better answers, we need to ask better questions. And I say this to my a lot of my the members inside of AGENCY, inside of different programs. Right. In order to get better answers, we have to ask better questions. Right. Is the question that you’re asking actually going to get you the answer that you desire?
And sometimes you have to pause for a minute, because especially me, I am a fact finder. I like to ask a lot of questions and get a lot of information. Sometimes the questions that I’m asking, it’s like I asked myself, could I be asking a better question here? And this is true for ourselves. So it’s true. It’s a great habit to get into when you are asking questions as a business owner. But it’s also true for your managers and any team member that you have.
So here are some questions to consider. What’s the question? So if if somebody comes to you, like let’s say you have a salesperson come to you and they’re not sure whether or not a lead is a good fit, say, OK, what question do you have around this? And so they will pause and actually think of what the question is as opposed to coming to you with a brain dump problem. Now, that’s not to say that they might not need to brainstorm. Right? But I think it’s helpful to figure out, like, what is the question all of this? Because it’s very likely that they might already know. They might already have, I find more often and not that they already know what the solution is.
Right. Same with same with me. And like you already kind of know what a solution is, but it feels so overwhelming and you’re so in it that it’s hard to really grasp what that is. So the first question to consider is like, what is the question here? Another great question is what is the outcome that you desire painted done so, for example, with the salesperson? I’m not sure whether or not this lead is a good fit. OK, we’ll figure out what’s going on and tell me, like, what is the question here that you have for me to answer? Because I don’t want to assume anything. Right, as a business owner. So maybe the question that a salesperson has is I’m not sure whether or not this person is aligned with our values. OK, so the question is, what is this person’s values or does this person align with our business values or does the company that we’re working with align with our values? Right. So this gives us a little bit more information is a little bit more direct than not being sure whether or not a lead is a good fit. Right. That’s that’s way more specific.
So the next question, what is the outcome that’s desired, so for the salesperson, the outcome that is desired is that that we know whether or not the lead is aligned with our values and ultimately we want to be able to have clients that are aligned with our values. Right? That’s the outcome that we desire. So then from there, I would ask the salesperson, what are two potential solutions or what steps do you think you need to take to get that outcome you desire? Right. So the great thing about this is that through these questions, you may uncover a few things.
One, it may give the person the answer that they need to be able to go back, let’s say, to the client and ask a better question or get more information. It might also identify a gap in your process. So for values, you know, if if your salesperson isn’t sure how to qualify people based on your values and that it is important to be paired right to outcome that’s desired is to have clients that are aligned with your values, then what about the process needs to change in order to confirm this, or what is the question that needs to be asked of this potential lead to confirm that they are aligned with your values? So a simple process change could be that before getting onto the sales call with a new lead and email goes out saying, you know, we are a values driven company, our values are very important to us. Please read over these values before we hop on a call together and confirm that these are aligned with your values. So that could be an idea.
Another idea could be that during the sales conversation, the salesperson goes over the values to confirm that that person is aligned with your values or not. It could also come after the sales conversation where you have you can play around with this a bit. Right? But by asking the salesperson what are two potential solutions, they may come back to you with those ideas. You may have ideas yourself. Right. But we want to start training the team that it’s a.) OK to come to the table with questions, problems and solutions. And, B.) we want them to start doing it right.
So sometimes I find that people, especially team members, don’t do it because they don’t know if it’s welcomed or not. So we need to really cultivate that culture where it’s welcomed for people to come to the table with new ideas, with solutions, with challenges. Right. And also that they come to the table with with good solutions, which eventually is developed.
So another great question to ask if somebody comes to you with a question. So let’s say a client manager comes to you with a question like a client isn’t happy with our work. They had mentioned that, let’s say let’s say designer. They’re not happy with this design and they are requesting that we do a redesign, but that’s not included in our agreement. Doesn’t that question feel like heavy right? Because now you have to make a decision.
So instead of feeling like you need to have the energy and think through all the questions or whatever to be able to get the information that you make the decision, I would simply ask the client manager, well, based on what’s going on, what do you think? What do you think? And see what they say.
You could also say, you know, here’s what’s important. Here’s our priorities based on that, what do you think? And if they still need some help, be like, OK, well, this is the end result that we need to accomplish. We want our clients to be satisfied, but we also need to manage the scope of our work. What do you think is the best decision? So it’s so funny. As I’m talking through this, I realized that this could be probably a series of four podcasts, but we’re just going to we’re just going to keep going. So this is transition number one, right? It’s a pretty big one. Moving from manager to coach. Right. Asking better questions so that you get better answers, your training your team to ask better questions so that they get better answers, training your team to come up with solutions and feeling comfortable coming to the table with solutions that may that may be that there’s a process that needs to be improved or something that needs to change about the way that you’re doing business. So we want our team members to feel comfortable doing that, which can sometimes feel not so great. Right? Because I know for myself running a business, it’s like, oh, I don’t want to know that we’re doing things like not ideally or that there’s things that can be done a bit better. But that’s the nature of this, right? In order to grow, we need to be able to get feedback. We need to be able to change and it can feel uncomfortable. And that’s just what growth is, right? Feeling uncomfortable and then getting comfortable and feeling uncomfortable. So don’t you want to grow a business now? Is is inspiring. I’m just kidding. But but yeah. So we want to have our team feel comfortable doing this.
The second transition is teaching your team how to make judgment calls. So the transition needs to shift from you making a judgment call to them, making a judgment call. So teaching them how to make decisions without you and this requires them using their own judgment. So, you know, it’s interesting because this can happen even as early as the hiring process. So does this person have the experience or have the judgment required to be able to step into this position?
So a few things. One is experience. So what past experience do they have that will allow them to make the types of judgment calls that you need them to make? So think about like what are the judgment calls they need to me and you can actually ask them on the hiring application. So this could be like a situational question. So, you know, this thing happens where they have to make a judgment call and you can totally use an example of something that you’ve had to do in the in the past. And you’re going to need them to be able to do like, how would you handle this? Right? And I would make it so that it’s a little tricky. Make it a tricky situation so that you can see what type of judgment that they would use. And it doesn’t mean that they would they have to do it exactly like you would do it. I actually encourage the opposite sometimes. Right, because we want to hire people that think differently than we do. Right? To be able to bring those experiences to the table.
So but it’s just interesting to see how people make different decisions and different judgment calls and what their process looks like so that you can say, look, you know what, I I trust this person. I would trust this person with the second thing that they need is guidance from you. Right. If they have the guidance from me, I trusted this person would make like the judgment calls that I would need them to make in this role. So that so transitioning right to the second piece. Right. They need the experience, but they also need guidance. So what information can you provide to them to make the judgment calls for important situations that come up in their role? I think it’s important for you to provide them with what the priorities are, what’s important, right? What should they prioritize? You know, if they’re having an issue with a client, what’s important to you? Time, money type of client, what’s not important? What should they not prioritize? Right. And when do they need to escalate it to their manager or to you as the business owner? Right. When do you need to know about it?
So if you’ve ever said to yourself or ask the question, oh, my gosh, like, my team keeps coming to me to make these decisions and I really just, like, don’t care about this, they should do whatever they want to do. Like, this doesn’t matter. Right? Then you need to tell them, listen, these are the situations you need to escalate to me and these are the situations you do not please do not come to me with these anymore because you have everything that you need to solve this problem. You do great like go forth. Right. Don’t like this stuff is creating me is a bottleneck. I want you to be able to do your job, like go do it right, give them permission to do it. But if these types of situations come up, this is when you need to escalate it to me. So I want you to think of situations that requires a judgment call. So maybe like reaching out to a client, explaining an issue or resolving it and reaching out to you with an issue versus solving it themselves.
So really start to think about, OK, what types of judgment calls do I need them to be able to make and how can I give them guidance to be able to make those judgment calls? So what are the parameters that they have?
So these are the two transitions that I think are you know, it’s great to have this information. It is another thing to actually put this in place. And like I said before, that’s where we take this work to the next level inside of my program AGENCY. Again, to check that out, you can go to NicoleJacksonMiller.com/apply specifically for agency owners that are wanting to delegate at least 50 percent of client delivery in twelve months or less and eventually really step out of that day to day operations so that they can be able to run their business, to have some space, to be able to have space to think and breathe. Right? And also to know that they’re doing a great job empowering their team to lead. Right. I mean, we’ve all been inside of businesses, I am sure, where we feel micromanaged or we feel like I really want to take this action, but I have to wait for this person. Right? It doesn’t feel good. It’s really shifting from, you know, managing implementors to leading managers on your team is going to really help everyone feel empowered and be able to do their job better and allow you to feel accomplished as a business owner and as a leader of your team.
Now, what I also say is that even if you don’t have management in your team and you’re simply managing implementers, these things still can apply. So you can still help your team make decisions. You can still have your team. This is all the more like self managing, right? You can still move from manager to coach and you can still have them learn, teach them how to make judgment calls. So if you are not at the point right now where you have managers, please still take this and apply it to anyone that you are leading.
All right, everyone, this is part one of what I call the leadership transition. Right. Which is stepping from managing implementors to leading managers. And I’m excited to share more with you in our next podcast. I will see you. I’ll see you next week.
Thanks so much for tuning in. If you are ready to stop settling for being a done for you service provider and really fully step into the role of agency owner and CEO and lead a team that you love that just delivers excellent client results, then you have to check out my new program called AGENCY, which is specifically designed to remove you from at least 50 percent of client delivery in 12 months or less, so that you can have the time and the space to be able to run your business and, you know, to take a tech free vacation, too. That’s always nice, right? So if you’re interested in learning more, head over to NicoleJacksonMiller.com/Apply. You can learn more about the program. If it looks like a good fit, then apply. And we will send you before our call. We’ll send you a free business assessment that will really explain more about the framework that we use to remove you from client delivery. And it’ll give you an assessment that you can take to really show where you are now and where you’re going. We’ve had so many people get a lot of insight just from taking that assessment, so I can’t wait for you to check it out.