How to find a right-hand man (or woman)

How to find a right-hand man (or woman)

Learn how to delegate and develop a strong lieutenant at your company.

February 14, 2017
Industry News

DAYTON, Ohio – Even Batman had a Robin.

That was the message Marty Grunder had for the 300 landscapers in attendance at GROW! 2017, his annual conference held last week in Dayton, Ohio.

Not that landscapers need to find capes and start wearing their underwear on the outside, but that they all need to find someone they can delegate to and develop as a leader at their own company.

“You've got to have other people you can hand the ball off to. Your company is worth a lot more if it isn't solely reliant on you,” Grunder says. “When I go away now, my phone doesn't ring. It’s handled.”

Grunder’s own right-hand men (and woman) at Grunder Landscaping are Paul Stoll, vice president; Seth Pflum, group leader; Brent Ogburn, director of business development; and Amber Fox, office manager. All four handle specific areas of the business, and eliminate everyone’s dependence on Grunder to solve every problem or make every decision.

A great lieutenant helps an owner by freeing up her time to focus on what she does best – whether that’s sales, operations, hiring or something else, as well as to step away from the business to take a vacation or think strategically.

“Think about how much more you could accomplish with an additional 20 hours each week,” Grunder says. “When you have a right-hand man, it's not 1 plus 1 is 2, sometimes it’s 1 plus 1 is 4.”

So how do you find someone like this? Grunder says the first step is developing a job description, and that means writing down everything you as the owner do in a typical week – and he means everything: getting the mail, emptying the trash, making deposits, picking up dry cleaning. Spend a couple of weeks noting what you’re actually doing every day.

Then, Grunder says, review that list and circle everything that someone else can do 80 percent as well as you can.

“We're not looking for perfection,” he says. “No one is ever going to do it to your liking, not all the time. (But) you can't do everything.”

Then look for this person inside your current organization or, if you can’t find them there, look outside. But Grunder says that regardless of where they come from, this person must be aligned with your company’s vision and direction, and work well with your style as an owner.

“Developing your staff develops you. When you let other people handle significant things in your company, it frees up your time do to other things,” he says. “We don't realize what all leadership means. … Let people focus on what they do best.”