Want to Grow Your Business? Get Out of the Way!

Article by:
Eric Keiles EO Philadelphia
Christopher Rugh
EO Seattle

Christopher (pictured) launched Custom Toll Free in 1997, a company that handles shared usage, development and management of existing toll-free numbers, and assists with 800 number acquisitions. Custom Toll Free is a leading vanity telephone number search firm in the US. You can reach Christopher at [email protected].

When I was an employee, I hated it when my boss was in the office. He always managed to muck things up and do more harm than good by running around, being self-important and annoying. As soon as we could get him out of the office, systems started moving smoothly again. We managed to get a lot more done, and in the process, made more money.

Here’s a universal truth: Employees generally want to do a good job. The best way to ensure they excel is to get out of the way and let them perform. I don’t know if my businesses would have survived if I hadn’t come up with what I call the “Go Theory,” a management approach that emphasizes the importance of getting away. The Go Theory is not about where you go or what you do while you’re away; it’s about what you don’t do when you’re traveling. For example:

  • Don’t send your employees a lot of little reminders by e-mail.
  • Don’t keep checking your smart phone.
  • Don’t miss the spectacular view, interesting presentation or quality time with friends because you’re stressing out about what might be happening at the office.

The point of this approach is to enjoy your time away from work. Why? Because you have great people taking care of your business in your absence! If that last sentence just sent a chill up your spine, and you immediately thought, “But no one can possibly take care of my business except me!,” then read on.

  • Hire the Right People
    The first element of my theory—its absolute essence—is hiring great people to work in your business. Here are a few things I do to ensure I surround myself with the right people, so that when I do leave, I can rest assured knowing the business won’t blow up:

    • Hire slow. Invest the time and money required to make the best choices. I don’t rely on just myself to spot the right person— I make sure that at least two other people whose opinions I respect interview the candidates.

    • Hire smart. I always hire people who are smarter than me.

    • Look for a history of excellence. Pick people with a track record for doing their tasks and accomplishing their goals. You don’t want to deal with excuses.

  • Create a Progressive Work Environment
    The second element of my theory involves what you do with these great employees once you hire them. By following these steps, I’m able to create a work environment that’s amenable to the entire staff:

    • Give people a great place to work and offer them real benefits.

    • Trust the employees to handle problems and give them room to succeed or fail.

    • Get in the habit of throwing issues back to employees; otherwise, you’ll be chained to your business 24/7.

    • Make your business a vibrant and healthy system— you’ll find that employees work better when you’re gone.

  • Leave Your Employees Alone
    The third element of the Go Theory is both the easiest andhardest: Give employees clear directions or goals, and then leave them alone to do their jobs. A quick check in while you’re on the road to make sure they’re on track is OK, but then go away!

    The idea behind this management theory is to work on your business instead of in your business. This forces you and your staff to create good systems that can run without you. After implementing the Go

    Theory in my company, I’ve managed to create a “real life” for me and a stronger, healthier bottom line for the company. I have found that in my absence, my business thrives. Projects move forward, problems get solved and new ideas emerge … all because I learned to get out of the way.


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