Multi-Location Management - Part 2
The only way to improve someone's performance is to allow them to do the job. If giving up control is difficult for you, then start off small (such as with a phone call or a memo) and work your way up. In no time you will be a delegating champion. A word of caution for delegating: be careful not to delegate things that you only dislike doing. People learn by example, so always put your best professional foot forward in setting the stage for your staff.
Once you are organized and have delegated some responsibilities, how do you follow up? The answer is to have a brief standardized form that you fill out each time you visit a site (try a checklist with lines for comments). You should focus on items such as evidence of proper physical plant and display, financial viability, staff interactions, local marketing, professional development, team building, and effectiveness of location management. The majority of these tasks can be observed in a 20-minute walk through the location. After completing the checklist, you can share your observations with the location manager (be sure to leave a copy for them to follow-up on). When you arrive for your next visit, begin by going over the previous visit's checklist. The more consistent you are, the less stress you will create for yourself and the local manager.
In building a rapport with each site, make sure you talk frequently to staff. Document your conversations on a communication-meeting form and ensure that your managers do the same. It is essential that each staff member knows his or her job description thoroughly. Make sure that all location staff know the criteria that they will be evaluated upon and give them the courtesy of completing their evaluations on time. More importantly, ask your staff to evaluate you and your role as a manager. You might learn a thing or two about yourself and your style of management.
Also, do not be afraid to share your job description with them. The more staff know exactly what you do during the day, the more respect they will have for you and understand that your time is valuable.
Evaluate your key location personnel on a monthly basis. If there is an area that they need assistance with, then document it on the evaluation and provide the manager with the proper training to increase their knowledge in that area.
Following-up on a daily basis prevents you from letting important things fall by the wayside. Be sure to prioritize your follow up into A, B and C levels be careful not to overbook yourself. It is more than acceptable to transfer those level B and C items to tomorrow's to-do list.
The final element in the equation of success for the multi-site manager is support. This form of management can sometimes be a lonely one as your entire operation seems to be geographically fragmented and you are the only person who understands all of the overall dynamics. It is imperative that you set up a system of support for you and those you manage.