For many founders, managing people doesn’t come as naturally as one may think, but really it’s possible to be a boss without falling into the category of a “bossy boss.” It’s important not to be overbearing if you want the best from your employees.
Let’s look at some ways you can avoid becoming the cliché overbearing and overwhelming presence we’ve all experienced before when it comes to acting as a boss.
The First Rule
I’m assuming your startup team is top notch, so it comes as no surprise that on a fundamental level, managing people isn’t about being their “boss” as we traditionally think of it, but it’s about leading them. Micromanaging is a drag. So don’t do it!
The more open discussion and dialogue you have in the startup, the better, but this means avoiding getting involved in certain discussions where you know your perspective won’t change. As founder, you’ve certain ideas set it stone and that’s necessary of course. If employees don’t yet know what’s set it stone, then let them know and leave it at that.
Your job should be to steer the course of the startup in order to let the employees make sure all its individual parts are functioning at 100%.
Don’t bogart decision making. Startups work best when freedom and authority are shared as much as they can be. Of course, executive decisions are yours to make and it shouldn’t be any other way, but think about it: there are all kinds of “problems” or “issues” that occur on a daily basis that shouldn’t need your input. Allow and encourage your team to solve their own issues and if possible, ask them to spread the knowledge.
Avoid being inflexible. The best bosses are flexible with hours, for example, because different employees are more productive during different times of the day. Flexibility is typically on the top of employee lists when it comes to rating good managers.
Don’t be inconsistent or unpredictable. The more erratic you are in your approach, the less solid your team is going to feel about you and the direction the startup is heading. Avoid frequent changes in major decisions because this can also come across as wielding power simply because you can, not to mention that it can actually undermine your authority.
Mistakes And Freedom
Take responsibility for your mistakes and practice humility. Bosses score low with employees when they set rules that for some reason don’t apply to them or make mistakes without being humble about it. Mistakes will happen and it’s ok. Show your employees your human side.
Also, manage your startup remembering to choose your battles. Give your employees room to be themselves and do what they do best. If you’re not consciously choosing where to get involved and instead are involved in everyone’s business all the time, you’re not going to have a good reputation among your employees.
Give your employees the trust they need and deserve. You hired them, so have faith in their abilities and let them surprise you with their talent and dedication. Your employees will surprise you more than you could have imagined.