Being the boss is an important role in any job. But, when you’re leading the way for your own company, the stakes are higher. The reality is, your decision-making can help you scale up or flounder. A big part of that is your team.
Hiring and fostering a solid team of dedicated, hard-working people is critical to the success of your blossoming business. So, if you’re asking yourself how to be a better boss for your people, you’re already on the right track.
Fall between micromanaging and being an absentee.
As the founder of the business, you likely have the most to gain and the most to lose. The fact that you know your product or service better than anyone else makes it easy to convince yourself that you’ll do it faster and better. While that may be true at the beginning, the underlying problem is that you don’t trust your employees–and they will feel it.
Alternatively, some founders take the “hands-off” approach offering complete autonomy to employees. On the surface, this is great for confidence and trust, but it quickly falls short for the organization as a whole. You do know your product best, so share that knowledge and be there for support as your employees need it.
Managing should always be a task on your list whether that’s fostering relationships, providing education surrounding your business, or helping to break down barriers. It all comes down to balance.
- Provide general expectations.
- Set goals and benchmarks for individual employees and the company as a whole so it’s a concerted effort.
- Be present for your team while granting them the creative space to come up with their own resolutions.
- Provide feedback to help them improve and grow.
Don’t leave your employees in the dark.
If you want your team to be as invested in the business as you are, keep them informed. Don’t be afraid to discuss issues with revenue or ideas about organizational structure. If it makes sense, ask them for help. Just because you’re the founder doesn’t mean you have all the answers. With a dedicated team, they might have some amazing ideas that will help you.
Consider giving them a quarterly overview of where the company stands. Fill them in on revenue and cost. Discuss ideas to help continue to grow the business and overall goals for the next months/year. Not only is this a great way to help your staff understand why you’re making certain decisions, but it also gets them more involved in your business.
Reviewing employees to give them an update on performance (i.e. praise their wins, acknowledge their hard work, discuss challenges) is important as a manager, but it’s also important to review your own performance. Never stop growing. 9 times out of 10 there’s a better, more efficient way. Being open to changing processes can only be beneficial–your employees will know they’re being heard and you’ll likely get some killer ideas to make your business better.
You can review yourself in a few ways.
- Conduct a survey– Google’s anonymous survey gives employees the opportunity to share how they feel about you and the company, where you’re doing well, and what areas they think you should work on without worrying about hurting your feelings.
- Ask someone– Whether it’s a co-founder or an advisory board member, ask someone who works closely with you to give you unfiltered feedback of your performance. It may initially feel a bit uncomfortable, even personal, but that’s the point–full transparency so you get a glimpse into how you’re perceived and, like your employees, where you can begin to improve.
- Review yourself– That old saying, “leading by example” is important in all areas of management but it’s especially true when it comes to self-evaluation. Be aware of your actions as much as you are your employees’, reflect on them, and then be better. For example, say you were overzealous with a recent project and set unrealistic expectations for the team ultimately leading to frustrated employees and a missed goal. In this instance, it’s important to recognize where you fell short so you don’t make the same choices moving forward.
You’re going to make mistakes–some big, some small–so be aware of what you could have done better. And don’t be afraid to own it for your employees. They don’t expect you to be perfect and will appreciate and respect the transparency.
You’re a family, act like it.
Some of the allure of being part of a new, budding company is working with a small team of people to build something bigger than themselves. They are in it with you. That means it doesn’t always have to be about business. Much like they’re investing in your vision, you should work to invest in them–their continued learning, growth in the company, etc… But also their lives.
Traditional thinking leads us to believe that work life and personal life should be separate. But let’s be honest, in most cases, it’s easier to work with your team when you’re connected on more than just a professional level. You should know their cat’s name, where their favorite restaurant is, how one day they’d love to open their own company. Not only does this help your team become more connected, it also creates a more open, relaxed work environment so that 40+ hours a week don’t feel so bad.
Make compatibility a job requirement.
This may seem obvious but when you have a great candidate right in front of you, with tons of experience, it can be hard to eliminate them simply because you don’t connect. Don’t ignore your instinct. Compatibility is as important as work history– maybe even moreso. View your team as a family, if there is a perfectly qualified applicant that you simply don’t like, eliminate them. It will be easier for you to work with or train someone who fits the company mold rather than having someone who simply doesn’t.
Don’t make it a guessing game.
You’re not the first person who has started a company. Much of the same challenges and obstacles you’re facing have been faced by someone else. That’s why you should lean on others who have been in your shoes. Learn from their mistakes and make better choices.
You could spend time working to build up your personal network of other entrepreneurs or you could join growth10 and get instantly connected to hundreds of talented peers with many years of experience doing what you’re experiencing right now.
Being part of the growth10 community gives you access to monthly workshops, on-demand lessons, and an active Facebook group that allows you to address issues, challenges, and opportunities with a trusted team of people–essentially acting as your extended board of advisors. With growth10, when you ask how to be a better boss, they’ll have an answer. You’ll never again feel alone in your entrepreneurial journey.