When you find that your cozy little meeting space can no longer hold all your employees comfortably, it’s a sign you’ve grown as a company– and with growth comes change. Things might be running along smoothly and then BAM; you suddenly realize that the old way of doing things is no longer efficient or working.
Not only does growth affect the dynamics of the team, but it also affects you as the owner. As your company grows it’s imperative you spend more time working on your business versus in it. Time management is critical as you are dealing with more issues, making more decisions, and trying to communicate out everything you need to various people and departments – the only way to be effective and stay effective is to change and adapt as your team continues to grow.
While your core management principles, values, and style always stay the same, your day to day activities and responsibilities will need to adjust. Here are some of the changes you may find along the way as your team continues to grow.
Direct to Indirect Management. This can be a big adjustment for many leaders. When you have a small team you can develop personal relationships with each individual – you know their role and details of what they do, what are their strengths and weaknesses are, and even what their hobbies are, or their family member’s names. Once you reach a team in the double digits you can’t manage everyone directly anymore – there isn’t enough time in the day to have 1 to 1 conversations, follow up on action items, answer questions, etc. AND still manage your workload and be productive.
At this stage many leaders with look to hire or develop a manager underneath them to help with the day to day team engagement and workflow. The manager deals with the details while you still deal with the overall performance and goals of the team. It can be a tough adjustment. The secret to success during this stage is hiring the right individual. Focus more on how they fit into your culture versus their resume – you need to be able to trust them implicitly and know that they will carry forth your vision and mission. They need to mirror you – yet have their own style.
You Will be Treated Differently. As your team grows, not only will you lose some of that personal touch with your current team, but new people will also be joining who don’t know you very well. You are now an authority figure and with that comes an aura of intimidation. It’s important to keep an open door policy and encourage your team to express concerns or feedback – but most of this will end up coming to your #2 – and that’s ok! The key is to keep the option open for anyone on your team to approach you.
It’s important you retain the “human factor” – and be transparent and authentic. Be open to feedback and let the team know that even you aren’t perfect. This simple gesture will go a long way.
Switching Gears – Constantly. When your team is small, it’s easy to keep track of status, due dates, issues, and ideas easily. But once your team has expanded and they are tackling multiple projects at once, you’ll need to be able to keep track of everything. You’ll most likely have back to back meetings for different projects – switching gears and keeping up is vital.
Spending a few minutes each morning looking at your day and determining what you need to prep for meetings will be very helpful. You’ll also need to find a way to keep track of notes between projects, and also find time to reflect on each project/meeting so you can gather your thoughts and make insightful suggestions or feedback. Technology will be your friend – or it may even be time to hire a personal assistant if things start getting bogged down.
Prioritize. As your team grows, so will your own To Do List. While you may have been able to leave an empty inbox and To Do List at the end of the day before, you may find that you only make a dent in these now. You can’t do everything, and prioritizing is a must. What are the most important topics for you to pay attention to, and where are you going to draw the line? You will not be able to be a perfectionist either. Focus on handling the most urgent items that matter most and don’t focus on the total number of tasks to do – bite sized pieces.
Soft Skills Matter. Once your role has changed, it’s not your job to know every minute detail of how to do the job of the people on your team. BUT it is your job to get the best work out of your team – and that means handling communication issues, personality issues, and managing your team so they want to be great employees. Having great hiring skills, building self-reliant teams, establishing a clear vision, and communicating well are the soft skills that matter!
Senior Vice President, Chief Lending Officer