Many businesses, particularly startups, follow the motto of “hire slow, fire fast”.
And I’m no exception.
When business is new or volatile, having a regular monthly expense can be daunting. No longer are you responsible for just your own livelihood, but now others are depending on you to perform. Now their livelihood is on the line too.
And that can be a lot of pressure for a one-woman shop or small business.
But, a couple months ago, I decided it was worth it. I could no longer manage on my own. I needed some help.
And so, I hired two people to come into my business and provide that much needed support. (I shared the process I followed while hiring, here.) For the first time in my 6 years of business, I had a team.
But once you have some people to work for you, what do you do next?
how to manage your team
Not only are you responsible for your business’s success, but now you also need to get the best out of your team. And everyone that you bring onboard will have different needs, requirements and working perferences.
One size does not fit all.
What you learn about someone during the interview process is not always an accurate representation of performance, drive or capability.
It also doesn’t prepare you for working together. You need to be prepared for the unexpected.
increase your chances for success
Back in my corporate days, I was thrown into a managerial position without much guidance. There was a lot of trial and error. But, there was also room to make mistakes and learn as I went.
In my own business, I wanted to do things right!
Here are some ways that you can get the most from team while also benefitting your business.
1. share your vision
It’s important for your team to understand the bigger picture of what they are working on and how it contributes to the goals of your business. Rather than working in isolation, your team will feel as though they are part of something bigger, which can motivate and inspire them.
2. focus on communication
Communication is important in any relationship! And how you communicate with your team can make or break your success. You’ll want all of your communication to be clear, thorough and timely. Because I’m on the road so much, I primarily use Slack to communicate with my team but sometimes words can lose their meaning and tone in text. So it’s important that I also make time for in-person conversations, strategy meetings and performance reviews.
3. lead by example
If you want your team to be punctual, keep deadlines, embody certain qualities and take work seriously, then you need to be that person too! Your team will look at you and see how you behave. Don’t be a hypocrite!
4. encourage autonomy
No one wants to have someone hovering over their shoulder all the time, watching their every move, and micro-managing their tasks. Plus, we really don’t have time for all that! Instead, you should encourage allow your to be autonomous and set deadlines to help them to manage their time. Have set days / times that you check in with one another to handle any issues, answer questions and provide direction.
5. listen and ask questions
Check in with your team regularly and ask them how things are going. You can’t force people to be completely honest with you, but you can create a space where they feel safe to voice their ideas and opinions. Never belittle someone for voicing theirs, even if you disagree! Open dialogue makes it easier to identify problems and come up with solutions to improve things.
what if it’s just not working?
Despite your best efforts to hire the right people and manage your team, you may end up with an employee who just isn’t doing a good enough job.
Unfortunately, this recently happened to me. I had to wrestle with the debate in my head – does this person need more time to find her feet? Do I continue to spend time and money to find out? Or do I follow the advice and fire fast?
I started off by providing informal feedback about what I felt needed improvement and asked what I could do to support her. I gave her more time to get into the groove, trusting that it would get better.
But despite this, little changed. She was then put on a formal probation period with clear guidelines, expectations and timelines to meet.
For a short while, things improved again and I thought we were in the clear. But soon, the errors, poor attention to detail and missed deadlines returned. And so, I terminated the contract.
It’s never going to be easy to let someone go. But ultimately you need team members who are going to meet your expectations, hit deadlines and generally make your life easier.
over to you
What’s missing from my list? I’d love to hear your tips for managing your teams and also hear your experiences. Share with us in the comments below.