Leadership & Productivity

How to stay hands-on when running and growing a business

6 min read

08 November 2018

David Morel, CEO and founder of Tiger Recruitment, explains how leaders can balance staying hands-on with being strategic when running and growing a business.

It’s not uncommon for business leaders to step away from day-to-day tasks as their business grows. While I appreciate the argument that being focused on the granular detail might distract from the bigger picture, I’ve personally never managed to heed this advice!

From the very beginning, back in 2001, my greatest passion has been matching candidates with clients. Some 17 years later, it’s what I continue to enjoy – so I still manage my own client base and recruit. The only difference is that I now run a business of 40 people across four offices and two countries, rather than just myself in my living room.

Every leader has their own style, of course. For me, balancing hands-on tasks with my strategic responsibilities makes me a better leader and, in turn, the business more successful.

It also means that I can see what’s happening in our industry and business flow in real time, and be 100% responsive as a result.

My approach won’t work for everyone, but in the event you are struggling to step away from the front line, I hope that some of the below techniques might prove useful.

Play to your strengths

Having grown Tiger Recruitment organically from day one, it never occurred to me to step away from the day-to-day work. I enjoy recruiting for clients and gain huge satisfaction from that aspect of the role, so it never made sense to stop.

If you do a good job at the activities you enjoy most, why shoe-horn yourself into a different role?

Understand your strengths and play to those as much as possible, while supplementing any skill gaps with a strong team.

Be team-centric

I can only do what I do because I’ve built a fantastic team around me, all of whom give me the freedom to continue with day-to-day recruitment.

Both our business support and private divisions are headed up by brilliant people, and I’ve hired heads of marketing and operations who can support and plan for the business’s growth.

Having this structure means that I can sleep peacefully at night, while my top team relishes the autonomy it gives them. I advise investing in as much time as it takes to build the right team around you, as it will enable you to
keep doing what you do best for years to come.

Plan, plan, plan

Time management and efficiency are absolutely key. I’m really strict about the lengths of meetings I attend, ensuring they’re never longer than they absolutely have to be.

I always try to have a rough plan for the week ahead, while every evening I map out my priorities for the coming day.

Put the hours in…

There’s no denying that my working style can be time-intensive. However, I try to be creative with time management so that it doesn’t mean compromising on my personal lifestyle.

For example, I generally start my working day at 7am but finish at 5.30pm, so I can spend time with my family. I then usually log back on for an hour or two in the evening, and try to squeeze a few hours in at the weekend.

It works for me, and I see it as part and parcel of owning a business.

…but take time out

That’s not to say it isn’t important to take time out. Running your own business and having a family means that life can be very busy!

That’s why, once a week, I carve time out for myself to run in Hyde Park. Taking the time to reflect, outside in fresh air, helps bring perspective to any current issues, while being away from the minutiae allows me to think more creatively and strategically.

Invest in one-to-one support

Having built a career upon the recruitment of PA jobs, no one understands the impact they have on the success of a business better than I.

From diary management to travel planning, networking arrangements and scheduling interviews, none of these would happen without the one-to-one support of my PA. Hopefully, sharing my own experiences will help others find their optimal way of working, but my approach won’t necessarily work for everyone.

Ultimately, it’s about having the self-awareness to know where and how you can add the most value, then building a suitable support structure and routine to suit.

David Morel is CEO and founder of Tiger Recruitment, a leading recruitment consultancy that matches exceptional support staff to businesses and private individuals.