Managing an employee or group of employees goes beyond providing them instructions and hoping for the best.
While you shouldn’t have to do much hand-holding if you’ve succeeded in hiring capable individuals, training is still a process — especially if you want your team to grow with the company.
BY SCOTT GERBER
But many first-time founders are new to people management and don’t know where to start. That’s why I asked 12 startup founders from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to share which common misconceptions can trip you up and potentially create issues down the road. Their best answers are below.
Startup founders are so focused on getting the business launched that they believe that formal training can often wait until later. So employees will just roll up their sleeves, dig in, and just work.
However, every employee or freelancer needs some type of formal introduction to the company, including a focus on the company’s culture, vision, and policies for work, payment, use of social media and anything else that can impact the company’s reputation or relationship with that employee.
It’s important to start implementing formal training policies from the moment you bring anyone onboard to work with you. – Angela Ruth, Due
No matter how talented your team may be, they do not have the same perspective or training to lead themselves.
I see a lot of entrepreneurs who assume that you can let team members figure it all out on their own while focusing on the bigger picture. But if you want the work on the ground to provide value to the bigger picture, then you’ll not only have to lead the team but manage the employees on the team.
To me this means regular check-ins so you are in the know about projects, sharing the vision and how plans adapt over time, working with employees on a weekly basis and encouraging two-way communication. Don’t just sit in your office. – Kelly Azevedo,She’s Got Systems
Salespeople who can sell and perform aren’t going to be enticed by low pay and long hours that come along with working for a startup unless there is equity tied to the mix. And even then they may just go start their own business.
If you are an enigmatic founder and you are growing like crazy, it’s time to build a sales program that generates inbound opportunities and makes sense for your business. Then you can hire salespeople with clear roles and ample opportunities to work on. – Lane Campbell, Creately
In a rapidly growing business, it’s a common belief that your hiring has to match that speed.
While expanding is important, it’s even more important to do that the right way. I’ve found that an OK or subpar employee always causes more harm than good.
So investing in a strenuous hiring process is always worth the effort – even if it doesn’t seem like it in the short term. – Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital
It is not about how many you manage but what they are like.
I thought just two employees would be easy, but they turned out to be problematic and felt like I was managing 20.
On the other hand, now that I have many more to manage who are more self-directed, it feels like I have fewer. It’s about finding those employees who fit well, have a strong work ethic, and can work independently rather than have to be micromanaged. – Andrew O’Connor, American Addiction Centers
When you’re building a team to run your company, you’re building a family.
Imagine how different your relationship with your family would be without the shared experiences of your early childhood.
There is no substitute for the founding team and early employees being in the same space to the greatest extent possible so that everyone is imbued with the same culture and vision for the present and future of the organization.
There is a reason that Harvard Law School hasn’t yet been replaced by online courses, and it’s primarily that the interaction among peers and between peers and professors is irreplaceable at present.
Remote management of employees is very enticing. It’s a great tool to wield, but shouldn’t be too heavily relied upon for your core team of full timers. – David Mainiero, InGenius Prep
Every time you speak, there is what you say, what you mean and what is heard. Your goal is to make all three the same.
People join your venture with their own set of pre-conceptions and filters. They are smart (or you wouldn’t have hired them), but they process information differently than you.
Take ownership of it and learn to communicate effectively as a team. It makes everything else easier. – Douglas Hutchings,Picasolar
Startups often foster an attitude of “we’re all in this together,” which is great until it’s time to do any sort of managing.
If you want to keep messages clear with your team it means you cannot join for every happy hour or group outing. The team can bond without you because, like it or not, you are the boss. While people can see you as an approachable and fun leader, they can’t see you as a comrade and equal who occasionally reprimands them. The latter leads to resentment and issues of boundaries.
This misconception by founders, unfortunately, leads to hurt feelings, perceived favoritism, and an unhealthy work environment. – Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
In our early days, I used to assume our employees would see the chaos and disorganization of the startup phase as a sign of weakness and risk.
I was afraid we would lose their respect or trust if we let them really see it. What I’ve realized, though, is that the craziness of the startup phase can actually be a huge positive for the right employees. A lot of people LOVE feeling like they’re a crucial part of the early days of something big.
Being vulnerable enough to let them play a bigger role in keeping your company on track in these early days can go a long way in not only ensuring your startup’s success but also in protecting your sanity. – Jesse Lear, V.I.P. Waste Services
Fooseball, beautiful offices, free lunches, gym memberships, and company laundry services are great perks, but they’re don’t excuse 16-hour workdays and no downtime.
Burnout is a risk if company culture doesn’t recognize that employees are more effective and productive when there is a boundary between work and home life. Companies that push for total commitment risk alienating valuable employees. – Vik Patel,Future Hosting
One reason people may want to work for a startup is that the company culture is more informal and relaxed.
The best way to ruin that is to monitor your workers too closely. If you make the right hiring choices, you should be able to let your staff complete their responsibilities in whatever ways they see fit. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
Paying a premium for your top-shelf developer doesn’t give you the justification needed to work that individual excessively. A higher wage guarantees more competency, experience, talent, and many other things.
But if you assume everyone in the company who’s making a higher wage should give you 14-hour days, five days a week, you’re going to find out fairly quickly that someone at some other company is going to pay them what they’re worth and understands that working a normal day is more beneficial to everyone in the long term. – Blair Thomas, First American Merchant