Were you one of those managers who didn’t let your people work at home? Because you didn’t think you could trust them? Because you believed people were less productive or would take the mick without your beady eye on them!?
Finding and keeping good people has always been a key challenge for business owners large and small. Even when your team are all working full time and in the same location, building and maintaining an effective team isn’t easy.
The nature of work has been evolving for a while now – flexible working patterns, global teams and outsourced resources – and now millions of people working from home for the first time. This might put you right outside your own comfort zone, feeling out of control and anxious about ensuring things get done correctly and on time. But in order to thrive in these uncertain times, your approach needs to change.
As a business owner, it’s likely that you’re not only managing a team sitting at desks within view and earshot of your own. You’re probably also handling people in a variety of locations, working different hours, and many of them won’t even be employees, but outsourced services or freelancers fulfilling your marketing, HR, copywriting, tech and accounting needs.
Many of these people will have more than one job, other clients, their own priorities, and they may also be your client/supplier/business partner – all at the same time! Even your employees are probably asking you for flexible working arrangements…
No man/woman/business owner is an island, and even those just starting out who think of themselves as a ‘one-man band’, may actually already be managing several people providing services to their business. You may not even think of yourself as a business owner (yet) but as soon as you pay someone to do something for you, you become a manager of sorts.
Here’s how to make the process clear and simple for you and everyone who works with you. Here’s how to stay sane and avoid turning into a control freak!
1. Every person is different
There’s no ‘one-size fits all’ in people management. You’re dealing with individuals who process information differently, respond to change in different ways and have varied working patterns. Be flexible in your approach – ask people what they need to make them successful. And remember that your way is not necessarily the right or only way. Let your people step up and surprise you in a good way!
2. Make your expectations clear
For more junior or inexperienced people set out how, when and with what frequency things should be done. For those with more experience, focus on outcomes and let them achieve what you want in their own way. Don’t leave things to chance or expect/hope that the person in the role will figure it out for themselves. Take on board any feedback you receive, from your team as well as from outsourced contractors, that your expectations aren’t realistic or need adjusting. Regular communication between people who work together is essential so that all parties can learn what works and what doesn’t and adjust accordingly. If you feel yourself getting edgy or anxious, ask yourself ‘Have I been really clear about what I’m expecting?’
3. Each person should have a role profile or spec
Role profiles are a great way of ensuring everyone knows who is doing what and understands what you expect. Defining the scope of roles within your business will help you find the right people to work with. Even when dealing with a service provider, having a clear ‘spec’ is essential to working together in an efficient and productive manner, without any nasty (costly) surprises. Ensure that every member of your team, whether employed and outsourced, knows where and how they fit into your organisation. Context is important to the human psyche. Clarifying what your company does, how every job contributes to the process, and how each role relates to what other areas are doing not only builds an efficient and productive team, but a much happier one too. Write one for yourself also and share it with your team. Your job is to remove blocks to them making progress, not to tell them how to do things.
4. Check in regularly
Whether you work together in the same office or on different continents, regular dialogue is essential. Schedule regular one-to-ones with your people to discuss how things are going, give and receive feedback and help your staff member overcome obstacles. Despite this being an essential element of good people management, many business owners neglect to do this, blaming lack of time or more important priorities. These are often the same people who complain that their people aren’t good enough, won’t step up or take responsibility. Don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t need to have one-to-ones because you see your people every day. You’d be amazed at how much you learn in a diarised session which otherwise your staff member might decide not to bother you with as you’re always o busy. Don’t just wait for formal appraisal meetings – talk to all your people regularly. Creating a culture where anyone can ask questions, share opinions and raise concerns, will increase the resilience of your business and help you feel more in control.
5. Be transparent about how and what you’re measuring
One of the biggest sources of anxiety, anger and frustration is people’s expectations not being met. If people don’t understand how you are assessing them, they will become frustrated and defensive. Put measures, benchmarks and key performance indicators in place, and communicate how you are going to assess each objective. This will make life easier for all parties as the employee/freelancer/supplier will know exactly what’s required of them, and you will have an impartial metric to show you (and them) how they are performing. Link compensation to specific objectives and outcomes rather than how you feel about an individual and their performance.
An effective and happy team can make or break a business. It’s your job as the business owner to try and get the best from your people. Turning into a control freak can be avoided. Remember you don’t have to have all the answers – ask people what they want and need.
If you’d like to discuss how to get the right people doing the right things in your business, please book in a call with me – https://calendly.com/lisazevi
Lisa Zevi – April 2020