Entrepreneurs who have successfully launched a business will find themselves at a fork in the road.
In one direction, there is the option to stay at the solopreneur level. This is a great option for those who:
• Are looking to building a lifestyle business.
• Want to continue doing the work with the clients, and want to stay “in the trenches” rather than delegate to others.
• Have no desire to build an infrastructure complete with complex operations, organizational layers, and employees.
In the other direction, there is the option to build a company. This is a great option for those who:
• Want to scale a business because they have a grand vision, or perhaps for acquisition.
• Prefer the strategic and leadership work, and do not want to remain in the trenches doing billable work.
• Love to build.
For those who want to build a company, and particularly for those who are bootstrapping and do not have a cushion of cash, there is no easy path from solopreneurship to a built-out, well-functioning infrastructure. Sometimes growth has to happen one or two employees at a time.
One of the hardest first steps for the business owner is moving from the practitioner role to the management role. Initially, when a business owner brings on a new employee, they also have to manage that employee. Management is not a natural strength for most entrepreneurs, who are big-picture thinkers, already juggle many competing priorities, and may not be very detail-oriented.
How does a business owner set up a new employee for success? There are four ways to do this:
Equip them. Make sure you are providing your employee with the tools and knowledge they need to perform. This is as obvious as setting them up with email and a cell phone, but also it means making sure they have access to information and education they need to get up to speed on their jobs.
Support them. For new employees, you are not just their boss. You are also their mentor and teacher. Do not place a new employee on auto-pilot. Taking a new job is stressful, so establishing a trust-based, supportive connection with your new employee is essential to their success. Do not assume they will come to you for help. Instead, frequently ask them if they need help. Through observation, determine ways in which you can support them, even if they don’t see it.
Hold them accountable. Create a feedback system that is built around performance expectations, and stay committed to it. Employees need structure and clear communication around expectations. A weekly huddle, which I addressed in this column, is a great way to establish consistent communication with your employee and build “relationship equity.”
Engage them in the conversation about success. What motivates your employee to perform? You will not know this answer so you need to ask. Then set up behaviors that can empower your employee to be successful. Employees must drive their own success, but their organizations must provide the environment and supporting tools.
Growth is exciting and scary at the same time. Like any function related to business growth, management requires a thoughtful strategy and process. However, few things are more rewarding than giving another person the opportunity to grow.
What are some of your most effective management strategies? Please share with us.
As always, if there is anything I can do to help you get to the next level, please let me know.
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CEO, Successful Culture
“Taking Leaders from Triage to Transformation.”
photo credit franky242 via Free Digital Photos