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How to manage a growing team

Article provided by Xero

Get the best from new employees by making them part of your company vision, says Gary Turner, managing director of EMEA, Xero. Here, he offers advice on recruiting and managing staff.

US president Theodore Roosevelt summed up the balancing act all employers face when he said: ‘The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.’

For any entrepreneur, hiring a new team and ensuring individuals work to a common goal is no easy task. This is especially tough for those used to working alone or in small partnerships.

Before recruiting, it’s important to plan. Think about where you expect your business to be over the next year and how many employees you’ll require.

Prioritise the skills and experience you or your team need and work out the tasks you want each new employee to take on. Look into market rates so that you can offer a competitive salary within your budget.

Change will happen, so choose people who prove they can adapt and are motivated by new challenges. Make sure you hire strong generalists who share your vision – preferably with experience in a similar role at a larger organisation.

Invariably, new employees will have different ideas about how to do their jobs. To prevent crossover and negative feeling down the line, once the recruitment process is underway, make it clear what is and isn’t expected of each person.

As a starting point, you should explain your business vision so that new team members understand the company goals and are clear about their role in achieving that future success. To make this is as tangible as possible, use your accounting software to draw up realistic financial forecasts and share these with your employees.

Business owners and managers are often so entrenched in their firms that they don’t explain the finer details of the operation to new staff. However, taking time to run through the profile and requirements of different customers, prospects, and partners is a worthwhile exercise. Likewise, start to think like a small business rather than a start-up and always use ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ when talking about your company.

While training is important, it’s also essential to get employees involved in the day-to-day running of your business from the start. Challenge them with specific goals and timelines, and most importantly of all, mentor new hires with someone more senior. The more guidance and support they get, the faster they will develop and become entrenched within the business.

From a motivational point of view, acknowledging and praising success always goes a long way. Explain that the more effort they put in, the quicker the company will grow and the better their rewards will be in terms of promotion, salary, and benefits.

Financial rewards are important but you can also show your team that you value them in other ways. Take an interest and learn about the people and things that matter to them, like their family, personal life, or hobbies. Over time, help them develop their skill-sets and management skills. Know their career goals and help them to achieve these ambitions.

It is important to communicate, so hold a weekly meeting to update the entire team on how everyone is doing and be prepared to be brutally honest.

Not everyone is a born leader and it’s inevitable that you will make mistakes. However, for your employees and your business to thrive, you must be approachable, friendly, authoritative, and responsible – in other words, a good manager and leader.

Like any other aspect of running a business, managing people is a learning process. The better you become, the better your team will perform and the faster your business will grow. Here is a helpful checklist to help you manage your team:

Checklist

  1. Communicate often
    Hold a regular all-hands meeting at least once a week to update the team on how everyone is doing,and how you are performing against your growth targets.
  1. Consider team-building exercises
    This can be a good way to get your team working together quickly. However, budget carefully – days off work will cost you money in terms of lost productivity, plus the cost of the event itself. Too soon for paintballing? Something as low-key as shouting drinks on a Friday afternoon might work well. Good accounting software will keep your budgets up-to-date, so you can see at a glance what you can afford.
  1. Get outside input
    Your team can be more than the people you hire directly. Make the most of your outside contacts by sharing development ideas with customers and key business partners such as your accountant. If you’re gearing up for major investment, make sure your customers and business partners are ready for it, and get your staff involved in discussions.
  1. Identify problems early
    Negative team dynamics and an unwillingness to change should be tackled as soon as possible. However, tread carefully as employees might have issues in their personal lives that impact how they perform at work. Firing people should be a last resort if you’ve tried every other option, including third-party mediation and verbal and written warnings. Be sure to follow best-practice legal guidelines.
  1. Be honest
    Working in a growing business is hard. The person you hired two years ago as a great generalist might not be up to the tasks you need them to do a few years down the line. It’s tough, but be upfront with your team if you need them to change focus or role, or even leave the business.

Xero is a proud Partner of the NSBC.