Managing a team isn’t easy, but it’s crucial for business growth. In fact, a business can’t grow without a team. So it is all the more important for small business owners to have amazing team management skills.
Here’s my top 4 keys to managing a team if you want to grow your business.
#1: Select the Right Team
If you’re managing a team, it’s critical that you have the right team to start with.
Hiring is the first step in creating any team, but especially if you’re looking to be able to manage a good team. You can’t have a good team to manage if you don’t have a good team to start with. So if you want to manage your team properly, start by hiring the right people to work on your team.
Still not sure it makes a difference? Think about how carefully NFL teams pick their players. Picking the right players to work together can make or break a team. Your team needs to be picked with the same concept in mind!
#2: Train Them
Managing a team starts with training, and there are two sides to the need for training.
Side 1: Them!
They need training for them. No one wakes up excited to do something they’re terrible at. No one wants to get frustrated and feel incompetent with their job. So if you’re managing a team and want them to perform well while also loving their jobs, make sure you train them properly first!
And while managing a team does not equate to babysitting and micromanaging adults, training does need to happen. A team that is undertrained will constantly feel overwhelmed and fall short of hitting goals because they can’t even walk through the process properly on their own much less think clearly enough to innovate and improve.
A Key Tip: The training doesn’t all have to come from you. If you’re onboarding someone to run the finances and you aren’t good at finances, find somebody who is! Get an online training course or hire an accountant to train them, but find a way to get training for your team members.
Side 2: You!
Although most people forget about it, managers need training too.
Managing a team requires skills that you’ll need to develop, especially relating to how you communicate with them. The most important one is being able to understand and communicate with their communication style.
What do I mean? Here’s an exaggerated example:
If you’re speaking Spanish and they’re speaking Chinese, you’re not going to be able to give them instructions and communicate clearly. And sending them instructions in Spanish isn’t going to help them get the job done.
Everyone has a different kind of communication style. Some people need projects broken down into specific steps. Some people just need the goal and a general overview of a job. But we all have different communication styles, and it’s your job to learn how to work with them when you’re managing a team.
#3: Communicate the Vision
The company vision is one of the most important keys to managing a team that innovates and continually strives to bring the company to its goals.
Far too often I’ve worked with a company where every employee has given a different answer regarding what the vision is supposed to be. The employees and team members have a foggy idea of it, but not a clear sight of what the vision and goals of the company are.
The problem with situations like this, is that if you have no clear sight of what the vision and goals of the company are, it’s a lot harder to feel motivated to reach and exceed goals.
Here’s how I prevent that:
At Grow Disrupt we have a monthly meeting. And every time we have that meeting, we start by going over our company mission, vision, and brand message. By doing this, I make sure everyone understands the core components of who we are and where we are going with who we are.
A really cool side effect of this? My team often comes back to me with really awesome ideas for how we can go about achieving our vision in different ways that I haven’t thought of. It’s amazing, because I don’t feel like I have to determine every aspect of the company that fulfills our vision anymore and you can get your team there too.
The other important aspect of Vision Communication is Culture
Company culture is a must! Every company has one, regardless of what it is. So you must be intentional about cultivating the one you want.
The way to do this is through writing, what you communicate verbally, and what you do in the company.
Writing and Verbally
This is all about what you’re communicating with your core values and brand traits. What are your core values and what do they mean?
And before you tell me “integrity, honesty, and the indomitable spirit” I want to stop you and ask what they mean for your company. You can’t just pick great sounding words and say “this is what we stand for.” You must define them, and gives examples of what they look like when they are being lived out (And when they aren’t being met! Which leads to the other aspect of communicating your core values).
If you don’t back up your core values with action, they are just words on a page.
So you need to be living them out. Which includes calling people out immediately when they breach the company values. And immediately is a key word here!
First off, what you just tolerate will become the company norm. People are always toeing the line, regardless of what that line is. So if you’re tolerating something, it’s going to become the line that they constantly toe.
Secondly, it will make handling it harder. If you see it happen and call it on the carpet, you have the chance to say “Hey, I saw that you did this and that’s just not who we are. You’re not in trouble, but it can’t happen again.” But if you let it stew in your mind, it turns into an angry reprimand the next time it happens.
It doesn’t have to be a big issue, but it does have to be a moment where you say “we hold ourselves to this standard and it will not slip.”
#4: Communicate. Period.
Ongoing communication is just as important as the vision and training. Without ongoing communication, teamwork breaks down.
I’ve got a few tips for keeping up with communication…
1: Meet With Them Regularly.
And it doesn’t have to be for long (in fact, it shouldn’t be longer than 15-30 minutes). Nor does it have to be on a weekly basis if they only work a few hours in the week. But you need to be keeping up with your team members on a regular basis so that you’re aware of what they’re doing and they’re aware of where they stand. I run weekly one-on-one meetings with my team members who work in the business on a part to full-time basis.
My One-on-One Meeting Agenda:
- What went well over the last time period (week, month, etc, however long it has been since you last met with them?)
- What needs to be improved since the last time we met?
- What project do they currently need support from me on?
- Upcoming Work.
This is my favorite agenda for all of my one-on-one meetings because it gives them what they need from me to keep going, and it keeps me apprised on how things are going with them.
Consistent communication is the glue that holds a team (and therefore a business) together. Without it, they could end up (figuratively) in Timbuktu while you’re headed to Hong Kong. Both cities in Asia, but very different destinations.
2: Use Project Management Software
The key to this is that you have to be using it as well.
If you’re telling your team to use a specific software for project management (Like Asana) but you’re not using it as well, it’s going to get frustrating for both you and your employees. You’ll lose track of what they’re doing, and they will feel unseen when they put notes into it.
My best tip for this is to be sure you’re getting into the habit of using it before you bring your team into it. If you’re already using it on the regular, it’ll be easy to check in on them through it. And it’ll be easier to onboard them to the software since you’re already familiar with it.
With regard to onboarding them…
Don’t do it all at once! Bring them into the software slowly, so you can be there to help onboard them as they grow into it.
3: Communicate Outcomes… Help Them Own the Process!
Instead of micromanaging their process or dictating how they have to accomplish something, give them an outcome that you want and then let them go for it.
It’s terrifying, I understand. But you will help them own their section of the business by making them responsible for outcomes and allowing them to create their own process. Your goal here is not to avoid being involved entirely, but to let them learn and own their position and outcomes. This way you’re able to eventually just let them go on an outcome and they feel the freedom, responsibility, and pleasure of accomplishing their outcomes.
A major part of managing a team is understanding that everyone works differently, and as long as they achieve their outcome in a way that upholds company culture it’s OK to work differently!
The best managers watch their team.
Not creepily, but enough to notice when there is something that isn’t working for them. I do this primarily to make sure my team is working inside their energy advantage (The place that they love, which they do the best at and gain energy from working inside). When they are doing that, I know they’re going to be knocking it out of the park every time.
How do you do this?
Keep an eye on what they do and how they do it. What are the kinds of tasks they always put off until the deadline? Are they consistently putting data entry off until the very last second (or even missing the deadlines)? Those things are probably outside their energy advantage, and would be best to move off of their plate.
A Quick Caveat:
Moving something off a team member’s plate isn’t a punishment. It doesn’t have to be a disciplinary thing, and should be a moment of “hey, I’ve noticed you don’t love doing this. I want you doing what you love, so I’m moving it off your plate and giving you this project instead.” It needs to be about getting them to a place where they love their work and love working for you.
Ultimately, managing a team can be summed up in two concepts: Train the right team and communicate with them properly.
Follow these steps and you’ll see a major difference in the way that they work in your company!
About the Author:
Stephanie Scheller is a TED speaker, a two-time best-selling author and the founder of Grow Disrupt. In just under a decade, Stephanie has been behind the scenes with more than 2500 small businesses. She has worked in groups and one-on-one to create total business transformation & help business owners live the life they got into business to create!