When I was a young assistant manager at a fast food outlet, I would often feel a bit unproductive. The crew members were working hard, pumping out food and sometimes I was just watching the action. So I would step in and restock positions, empty the trash, wash the dishes. I was productive and making my team more efficient.

One day, my area manager visited and, after watching me be “productive”, pulled me aside and chewed me out royally. He wasn’t paying me my huge (lol) salary to wash dishes and sweep the floor. He was paying me to MANAGE. He then gave me an assignment I’ve never forgotten – run the restaurant with my HANDS IN MY POCKET!

Whoa! No more lifting, carrying, sweeping, packaging, washing. If I had something I wanted done, I had to use my team to do it. Reassign the positions, cover the missing person, then send them to do the work. I had to think about available resources, determine the most efficient use of the staff available, anticipate the customer patterns, clearly communicate what I wanted done and the time frame I expected. I had to MANAGE.

How about you? Can you run your business with your hands in your pockets? Or are you unloading the truck, doing the payroll, and, yes, emptying the trash? Your role as business owner is NOT to do the work. Your role is to plan, direct, design, encourage, make relationships and prepare. That’s the leverage you provide – getting more out of your people and assets. It’s what your team needs from you.

I challenge you to rethink how you spend your time. Training, planning – thinking! is the goal.