So i just launched a bootstrapped digital agency with a team of 4. I hope to develop my core team before we start to expand and recruit more team members. How do i balance between being the team leader and being the boss without being overly assertive?
An important part of being a leader of a startup is setting goals, milestones and checkpoints, explaining to the team what your roadmap looks like and why, and helping the team (and yourself) focus on those goals and milestones, at a time when there are a million distractions and opportunities that can lead the team off on a tangent.
Set lots of team checkpoints - weekly or bi-weekly are appropriate, and set expectations that that the team members will be called upon to visible demonstrate progress on their respective tasks. Assuming your team members have some experience and maturity, you should be able to set weekly objectives and expect that they will be able to self-manage without needing to be "micro-managed" on a daily basis.
Set brief check-ins throughout the week, 15 mins at most, to give folks an opportunity to alert the team if they've run into problems or need help with some blocker. Basically you want to establish visibility and accountability into the teams work, but you shouldnt need to be a "helicopter parent" to the team and overly monitor daily tasks.
Communication is key.
Your team members have elected to join your grand adventure which is awesome, and they are taking a risk with their careers, so be respectful of that.
Hope some of this helps!
It can sometimes be very challenging to find the right balance between giving orders and building a strong bond between you and other team members. Let's face it: no one likes to receive orders. However as a founder it's important to lead your team in the right direction for the company to succeed.
Every team member is different: different working hours and way of work, different personality and profile, different ambition, different needs (finances, recognition, team work). Although there isn't a secret recipe towards perfection, here are some thoughts about what to do and not do.
You should not:
- Consider yourself as always being the smartest of the group
- Consider employees as co-workers rather than smart people helping you towards success
- Monitor all their actions on a daily basis
You've hired these people because they are good, surely even better than you for some tasks.
The amount of management they will need depends on their experience and maturity.
Evaluate their maturity, deleguate as much as you can, and let them take more and more decisions by themselves as you move forward together.
For them to make the best decisions on the long-term you should from the very start:
1. Communicate and make your vision understood to the whole team: what do you want to achieve? what problems are you resolving? where do you see the company in 10 years?
2. Build trust and cohesion collectively. Spend time with each team member individually to raise confidence about themselves and the work they can achieve
3. Make them learn and evolve personally and professionally: "growth" is not just about metrics, it's also about internal growth
4. Be flexible and understand their needs and conditions: forget about the 9 to 5 schedule. Let your team members have maximum flexibility in terms of working hours. Let them go to events. Don't try to control them. They'll only be more productive, respectful and will feel at home, which is exactly what you're looking for.
5. Make the work environment as pleasant and enjoyable as it could possibly be.
There's a fine line between hard management and soft leadership. I strongly believe that a team of happy co-workers who get up every morning with strong beliefs and motivation to help their company change the world can move mountains.
Hope this helps and looking forward to read everyone's ideas and thoughts.
Building and managing a team is a challenge for all entrepreneurs, but particularly for the first-time business owner who is in many cases learning by trial and error. Some never get it right; however, those who recognize it for the challenge that it is tend to refine their skills. Top 5 things you can do as company owner and leader when it comes to interacting with your team.
2. Understanding personalities
3. Delegate: learn to let go, and trust
4. Learn to be persuasive
5. Be polite, compassionate, and never condescending
Delegation of job and role description will play an important role. Another feature would be passion.
That's a broad question and there's no "cookie-cutter" answer that will address every situation. It depends on your particular situation and the make-up of your team.
As others have noted, goals and milestones are important and then some kind of plan or communication along the way to keep things aligned and to address any issues that arise in the pursuit of both.
I'm a fan of short, focused ad-hoc meetings targeted at specific issues with only the people who need to be there involved, coupled with "just enough" status meetings for the task/person in question. Some folks (more junior) typically (but not always) can use more direct oversight and help, mentoring can help a lot with such.
I've worked on some large teams where there were daily status meetings, morning and evening coupled with other meetings during the day and it can add a significant drag on productivity when your day gets cut up with lots of these, mostly repeating the same status (since there's hardly any time to get anything done because of all the meetings). This is typically the sign of management wanting to "control" the development process.
Slack or the equivalent can be helpful in tracking issues and facilitating collaboration on specific issues, but it can also turn into a deluge of communication that sucks the hours out of the day if all of a sudden everyone is tracking and commenting on every issue or decision that arises.
Other stifling ideas are "design by committee" or "design by consensus". My particular form of hell was being involved in a project where for 6 months everyone in the company (it seemed) sat in a room and discussed the technical merit of every idea that arose (despite the fact that only a few were subject-matter experts) so that it quickly devolved into a daily exercise in explaining why some whimsical idea had no merit vis-a-vis our target product.
Building a successful team can be like catching lightning in a bottle, and keeping them focused and productive as the team grows can be just as challenging. I believe that it takes:
- very good direction from the top as to goals and milestones,
- clear constraints and requirements,
- support to keep contributors productive and isolated from the myriad outside forces that can drag down productivity,
- deft project management to keep all the tasks aligned and manage schedule, scope or resource impacts as they arise,
In my opinion, in general people are eager to contribute and build stellar products and companies. The challenge is building an organization and structure that allows them to do so by removing the impediments to such.
What works for me is 1. Mutual accountability. We deliver fast and often on the things we say we are going to do and talk about issues or challenges as they arrive. It’s also important not to shy away from difficult conversations around performance or motivation.
2. Overcommunicate. For our team it’s daily 10 minute standup meetings and slack.
3. Listen to everyone else before you speak and ask probing questions. I am working on this skill and hoping to deepen my understanding of each team members tasks and thought processes so I can help them succeed.
Imo it depends who you have hired, what they were hired to do and how you laid out your 'shop' to them and set expectations. If they were recruited to follow your lead then - roadmap, plan, execute, review - giving people enough freedom to let them do what you hired them to do without micro managing (unless you hired people that need it of course - or you are the type that wants to work in that way).
Most people like having high level goals set and having freedom to do it their way within communicated constraints. I would always just set deadlines and regular touchpoints to keep your desired roadmap aligned so people dont go off track. Never let anything go too far without checkpoints.
Leadership is key, you can get your hands on some of john maxwell books, they come in handy and would help your leadership skills.
It depends on the team makeup and what the team needs. My book contains assessments of the 20 Characteristics of Successful Teams, for Musical groups, sports teams, and project teams.
Teamwork in Ten Days: Building Successful Teams in the Arts, Sports, Business, and Government
Your answer lies in this question - How do you measure if a team is being managed effectively ? Results are important..
Answer is improvisation. It depends on how fast you are at improvising in every area. Be it hiring, product, sales and every aspect of business you are working on.
Most successful startups improvised in all the areas they worked on.
As a new startup, you will always start at zero. Your rate of improvisation is directly proportional to success. You have to pick up an approach that works for your business and keep on improvising.