While it’s every startup founder’s dream to reach the point where they can start to hire qualified staff, it’s easy to forget that managing employees, all with varying personalities, takes skill. What works with one employee, may not succeed with the next. Getting to know your staff is crucial, but understanding your own communication style is the first order of business.
Here are a few initial questions to ponder:
What type of leader am I?
Are you a person that drives the vision of the organization? Some managers, depending on their executive level, bring motivation to the workplace. They drive their employees to seek greatness, be innovative and encourage employees to push boundaries of excellence.
Others may set the work tone. As soon as chatting employees see them, they turn around to their computers or stations and get busy, because they carry a no-nonsense vibe. They care about output and productivity.
There are leaders who are teachers. Whenever employees need help, these supervisors are immediately sought. They give words of wisdom, have superior product or company knowledge and are natural problem solvers.
None of these are better than the other; they are all a piece to the company puzzle. Spend time this week paying attention to how your employees use and behave around you. It might give you some insight to how you contribute to your company’s culture.
How do I communicate?
The art of communication is a skill that takes time and effort. We all have areas that need improvement. To determine where your skills are lacking, think about what comes naturally.
Are your comfortable with handling conflict? Is it a breeze for you to sit down with an employee and evaluate their poor performance? Are you comfortable in one-on-one sessions but shaky in a group setting? Can you easily accept workplace criticism without making it personal?
Not everyone can smile through budget cuts or motivate employees when their personal life is in shambles. Figuring out how you handle stress and office pressure is important. You’ll know that what does not come naturally is an area where you can invest in growth.
Can my company run without me?
For your business to last, it must be self-sustainable. Are you creating a company with employees who can run it smoothly in your absence? If you still need to be in your office every day in order for it to run, you have not reached the level of sustainability that will continue to project you or your team toward success.
In his book, “Startup Leadership: How Savvy Entrepreneurs Turn Their Ideas Into Successful Enterprises,” author Derek Lidow says that in order for a business to be self-sustainable it must meet two criteria:
- “It can operate whether or not the founder is active in the firm.”
- “It is able to gain new customers with new innovations in its products or services; that is, customers lost through aging and shifts in the market can be replaced by other customers buying new products or services.”
One of the greatest setbacks of being a micro-manager is not giving your employees the room and experience to figure things out for themselves. How can they learn to function without you and make their position theirs if you are constantly redirecting them? Successful startups are comprised of outstanding teams. Founders carefully select individuals who are brilliant at what they do and give them room to do it. If the success of every position is reliant upon you, you might want to consider being a solopreneur.
Do I have management systems in place?
As your company grows and you add employees to the payroll, you have to establish a system of procedures and processes. Do you have procedures for:
- Sick Days
- Employee Evaluations
- Customer Service
- Office Safety
- Quality Control
Early-stage startups often fly by the seat of their pants. As your company matures, proper protocols and management tools are as essential as the product or services you are delivering. Don’t wait around for a mishap to force you to get these things in gear.
What if I have not invested enough time in proper management?
Get going! There are a variety of consultants and workshops available. If your company does not have a human resources department, seek out local programs or books that can get you on the right track. Below are just a few places to get started:
Human Resources Help
HR.BLR.com provides the advice and answers you need to complete your human resources tasks faster and easier.
HR Help is a free and informational website, designed to provide you with current HR related employment laws, policies and strategies.
SBA.gov says you must adhere to laws and regulations that protect workers’ rights. Be sure that your hiring practices align with all laws pertaining to your industry.
Free Management Library provides free, easy-to-access, online articles to develop yourself, other individuals, groups and organizations (whether the organization is for-profit or nonprofit).