When To Let Go

So, you have trained the right people, you’ve listened to them, but when is it time to let them go? That is a question that was recently posed to Richard Branson. According to Reuters, you just need to do it when the time is right.

One important moment took place when we set up Virgin Records to operate alongside our music stores: I moved out of the office and set myself up in a separate location. This was no grandiose headquarters building but, rather, a houseboat on one of London’s canals. I found it liberating to be away from the hurly-burly of the everyday business. This not only gave me time to plot our next ventures, but also ensured managers back at the office “owned” their decisions. My efforts to step back from the day-to-day operations of the Virgin Group were key to the lasting success of many of our companies: We would not have been able to tackle so many different sectors and markets if I kept a tight rein on management and development.

But you can’t merely hand over responsibility — you need to empower the right people. Our success at this is partly due to the devolved management structure we set up. Since our CEOs operate their companies as owner-managers, our employees maintain a real sense of pride in and responsibility for their businesses, and the managers are able to hire others who have the right skills and fit with their particular Virgin team. I speak to our CEOs regularly, visit our companies and promote our businesses, but I let our managers manage.

Photo by Melanie Milliken

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