Letting go of ControlNov 29, 2021
The game of trust. How to not freak out when you let other people represent your business as your team...
Est. reading time: 6 minutes - thank you for devoting this time to your growth today
I'd like to draw your attention to something you can't skip if you want your teaching business to grow. When you set up your business, it's normal at the start that you're the one responsible for everything:
You're the director, the teacher, the admin, sometimes even the cleaner and the bookkeeper.
If things go great, it's all thanks to you; if something fails, you're the only one to blame.
It's all super clean from this perspective. But of course, there will be a point where you'll feel overwhelmed and need help.
And though we'd prefer to delegate the not-so-visible elements first, like accounting or cleaning, in this industry, we also tend to delegate (and rightly so) client-facing roles, like that of the teacher and secretary or office manager.
Yet many business owners, when they first hire, are not prepared for managing people.
And what happens then?
- We keep all the responsibilities we can and give minimum responsibility to the teachers.
- They will feel excluded from decisions, and they might also sit back and stop trying to give their best, as no real responsibility is given to them.
- And the worst of all, whatever goes wrong, even slightly, EVERYONE runs to us.
- Sometimes we might even feel it would have been better if we didn't hire them, as it seems like we have only made the situation more complicated.
- The more things go wrong, the more controlling we become as bosses, and the more drowning we feel in our own business.
- We might even resent our team members for earning better money than we do, though we feel we do the heavy lifting.
So what's the way to manage this? How to get out of this situation, or how to get started when you want to hire a team - or even just one person to help you.
1. This might be the first time you hear about it, but you will need a SCHOOL HANDBOOK.
An internal document that ...
... defines your brand, what you stand for, who you serve.
... describes what you do for your students and what you don't, what's allowed and not allowed at your premises, in your online rooms, during class times, and outside of it.
... specifies how a class should be prepared, executed, and followed up on
... explains to your team how to speak with students and their families.
... gives guidelines for handling problematic situations.
... contains exact scripts and examples for dealing with complaints.
... outlines how evaluations should be done.
... helps your team understand when they should respond to a query and when they should redirect it to you.
It should include anything and everything essential for your business right now, at the maturity level where you are with your school.
I recommend you write it up once and review it each year.
My school had very different elements in our handbook one year versus the other. When we were a physical school, we'd have in the handbook the rule that all kids had to have their shoes and jackets on by the end of the class. If for one group this took 5 mins, then they started preparing 5 mins before the end, if we knew it would take 15 mins (4y olds), they would start 15 mins ahead.
When we were an online school, the handbook described how each teacher needed to customize their zoom waiting room and the strict rules for letting people in or not.
Some years my handbook would be 10 pages long; other years, 35. Usually, it grew a bit each year. And every time I'd have someone new on the team, going through the handbook would form part of their onboarding sessions.
I could talk about this a lot longer, but you get the idea.
2. The other super important point I wanted to talk to you about is that of AUTHORITY and RESPONSIBILITY.
You need to give authority and responsibility to your team members, even if it freaks you out at first.
If you run a school with children, you can't ban all your teachers from talking to parents. They will be the go-to person for many of the parents. Instead, you need to give them the proper guidelines on what questions they can answer and how, and what they should pass on to you, and in what format.
If you use a platform where teachers have direct contact with parents (for example, ClassDojo), you should allow your team to write their posts the way they see it's best (of course, according to your guidelines). The same for any evaluations.
If you want to keep it all in your hand, your business won't have the capacity to grow.
Are they going to screw it up sometimes? Yes, they are. But instead of being a control freak, rather prepare for those situations so that you can step in, sort out the problem, and use it as a learning opportunity both for you and for your team.
You might still think: "But I'm so afraid they wouldn't communicate in line with the brand. I'm afraid the photos they send parents would suck."
If this is how you feel, you haven't given them great guidelines. If you do and they still screw up, work the guidelines, not the authority you give them. Don't give up, even if you have to step in repeatedly. You will ALL learn.
And when someone from my team was afraid, what I brought them was the example of my best friend. She is a cardiologist. If she makes a mistake, someone can die. If your teachers make a communication mistake, the worst that can happen is they embarrass themselves or you. They can't do immense harm. Definitely not as big as a cardiologist if not well prepared and left unattended. When you're afraid of what your teachers post on ClassDojo, imagine cardiac surgeon's boss when they have to let them do their first operation on a live person...
So just go with it, prepare yourself, prepare your team, and let them try themselves.
3. And last but not least, forget about the idea of hiring your clones.
You don't want a team of copies of you.
You want a team that's better than you in some areas. That's why you hire them.
Because they are professionals, they know what they're doing or are ready and eager to learn. Give them that opportunity and possibility to grow.
Don't be afraid to fail, and don't be frightened for them to fail. It will all be ALRIGHT.
And now over to you. What's the most difficult for you about giving authority to your team? I'm curious to hear, so enter the Community and share it with us. If this post resonates with you, our community is the place to be!
Also, if you struggle with the handbook, or any specific aspect of the above, do reply to me, and I'll be happy to assist.
Thank you for coming along!
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