Managing a team is an important part of making sure your startup is successful. After all, no one gets to where they are going alone. And seldom, if ever, are businesses one-man shows.
The reality is startups of all kinds likely need to hire people to expand. This means its imperative that startup founders learn the rules for managing a team. Because the reality is that managing people is not always easy, but it’s a necessary skill for success.
What is a startup?
A startup is defined as a newly established business. While most people think of startups as dealing with tech and investor funding, the reality is any small business owner is a startup. For example, I’m a content marketer and a consultant, and I was considered a startup in local surveys in my area.
The reason I’m bringing this up is because I often see small business owners avoiding building a team because they consider themselves “small fish.” To this I say if you want success in business, you need to start taking yourself and your business seriously. That means you need to start treating your business like a business and that often involves hiring people.
Maybe for one startup it looks like hiring 10 people and for another it looks like just hiring a virtual assistant. It doesn’t matter because a team is a team. Additionally, in both situations you still need to know how to manage people. Or, at the very least, hire someone for the sole purpose of managing a team.
Tips for Managing a Team in Your Startup
As a former recruiter, I have several thoughts on what It takes to successfully manage a team. In fact, I’m grateful for my experience as a recruiter because it literally taught me how to deal with people. Now that I’ve been self-employed for five years, I’ve not only managed teams but I’ve been on teams as well. Here are just a few of my tips for managing a team based on all these experiences.
It starts with hiring the right people.
Most people think that managing a team happens when the team is already built, but that’s not true. In reality, managing a team successfully actually begins during the hiring process. (P.S. This is where my experience as a recruiter comes in reallyhandy.)
Here are some things you need to keep in mind during the hiring process:
- People have unique skillsets. Because of this, you can’t expect one person to do all the things.
- Different people also have different personalities. This means you need to hire people that will work well together. (This is also the reason why large corporations are big on personality tests.)
- Experience often times trumps education. Period.
- The mindset of a person matters.
- If you want high-quality people, you need to treat them right. This includes paying them fairly and giving them some sort of autonomy to use their superpowers.
At the end of the day a good defense is a good offense. You can start off on the right foot by keeping these key points in mind during the hiring process.
I admit that it may come easier to me because I literally used to interview people for a living. This means I can tell pretty quickly whether or not someone will be a good fit for my team. If you feel like you need help, then I suggest hiring one good manager who does have these skills and have them help you with the hiring process. This is a good segue into my next point.
Hire a business or project manager.
As the startup founder and entrepreneur, you are a visionary. This means that – to a certain extent- managing a team isn’t really a good use of your time. Instead, you may need to hire someone who has this unique skillset and can take it off your hands.
Here’s an example of what a manager might do:
- Be the middleman between you and other team members so you can focus on moving the business forward.
- Streamline the processes for projects.
- Make sure everyone is on task.
Of course, this depends on the scope and size of your startup. In some cases, you don’t have enough team members to need a middleman. But, as you grow, you will need to consider hiring one just so that you stay sane.
Create systems and processes.
One of the keys to managing a team is to avoid micromanaging them. You can do this by creating systems and processes they use to get the job done.
For example, back when I had my podcast, the entire process was taken care of by other people. All I had to do was record an episode and everything else was taken care of by the project manager. Because we had a process and a system, I didn’t have to constantly check up on people to see if deliverables were being met. My time was spent doing sales instead.
You can also take busywork off of people’s plates so that you create space for them to shine. For instance, a big portion of my sales and marketing is automated. This allows my team and I to focus on other things that move the business forward. This includes things like offer creation or pitching media.
Respect your team.
As I mentioned earlier, if you want to attract high quality people, you need to respect them. This means several different things including:
- Proper compensation. This simple sign of respect goes a really long way in attracting and keeping quality talent.
- Not expecting too much from them. As in, don’t expect things that are unfair. Like assuming your virtual assistant can also design websites. Or, expecting people to work 80 hours a week for you when they are contractors.
- Release control and let them do their jobs.
I’ve seen firsthand how business owners sabotage themselves by treating their teams like crap. They don’t just lack the skills for managing a team, they also completely lack any semblance of people skills.
Respecting people isn’t hard. You need to treat your team with the same amount of respect you would treat anyone else. The problem is business owners make the mistake of assuming that because they are paying someone that they own them.
Is this all business owners? No, of course not. It’s just the ones who aren’t doing very well because they don’t know how to release control.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Sometimes teams don’t work out because there is a breakdown in communication. This is why a big part of managing a team is having open lines of communication. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that allow you to do this these days.
Successfully managing a team also means you need to be clear and direct with communication. For example, proper delegation requires that you know how to communicate what you need. Without this, your team member has no idea what to do or what you want.
Successfully managing a team is a skill required to run a profitable business. Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire someone else, make sure to follow these tips to avoid any hiccups.