1. Set some goals
It’s easy to be working towards the overall goal of the business, but do you actually stop and look at your own personal aspirations? Sometimes people assume that once you’re the managing director or chief executive you’ve achieved what you want and your focus is solely on the business’ strategy. But even when you get to that level, you still need to have some of your own goals, personal or professional.
2. Get the right teams around you
Setting goals can be done with the best intentions but, ultimately, it comes down to having the right people around you to support you and make sure that you’re achieving what you need to be. This sounds easier than it is, but building teams that work doesn’t happen overnight. It’s taken me 25 years to find the perfect blend of people and a workplace culture that makes us efficient and effective. The people who work for me are experts in what they do, and me micro-managing them won’t achieve anything. I simply don’t have the time to be watching over everyone – and this is something that good managers need to admit to themselves.
3. Put the right procedures in place
Something I’ve learnt over the past few years is the importance of having procedures in place. We have fought some difficult times in business and being resilient is essential for survival. Starting as a family business, we had a very informal structure but now we have created expert teams and given everyone a detailed role profile, which has created better synergy internally. Having processes and procedures has helped streamline the business but also reduces the amount of firefighting that we do.
Ten years ago it was all that we were doing, but now being organised means that we don’t need to.
4. Manage your time
“I wish there were more hours in the day” is something that I hear far too often. 24 hours is plenty… if you use them right! It has taken me a long time to get to this point but I now only spend time on things that matter. It goes back to planning and delegation; trust the people around you to deal with things, and encourage them to only come to you if there is no other option. Birmingham – and the West Midlands as a whole – is a great place to do business, but you can easily fill your time attending the opening of envelopes. I now only go to things that really benefit me or projects I’m working on.
5. Embrace technology
Technology is something that allows me to manage all of these roles at once. Emails mean that I’m always contactable and I hate it when people don’t reply so I make sure that I do it even if just to acknowledge receipt of an email. Think back to a time before emails: as managing director would you sit and open all of the letters on your desk? Lynne, my PA, is able to filter out the ‘junk’ – anything our new email system misses – and also flag the important things. Social media is addictive, so assign set times to go on Facebook and Twitter. It’s a way of winding down and catching up on what’s happening, without being distracted in the day.
6. Remember what you’re doing it for…
Spending time with the family is so important to me, but I know that my time is tight. Technology means that I can be there for the family dinners and holidays, but every now and then I might have to respond to an email or call. I’d much rather be present for 80% of it than not at all, and my family understands that. I also have to find things that help me work at my best. I go running and hate every second of it but know that the hour of pain means that I perform better for the other 23 hours of the day. Running helps me focus, gives me energy, and builds up that “never die” attitude ready for another busy working day.
Tim Andrews is managing director of Hollywood Monster, the Birmingham-based signs and graphics company. He’s also chief executive of Birmingham City Ladies Football Club, and chairman and trustee of the LoveBrum charity.