by Jennifer Riggins
Yes, there are some truly awful managers out there. Truth is, many startups I’ve worked with are run by people who wanted to run their own business, but didn’t seem to have any interest in managing a team. And the typical startup owner isn’t the MBA type, so they aren’t even getting the theory like Fortune-500 execs do.
But this article isn’t really about that. It’s about fellow entrepreneurs. What if you’ve never worked for anybody else? Yes, these are few and far between, but this group is growing rapidly, particularly in the millennial generation who came out of university without great job prospects and a desire to create work for themselves.
But now the next trick is these founders have never had a good — or bad for that matter — example of a manager, and as their business grows, they, often quite suddenly, have a team to manage.
A strong Management 3.0 principle is to lead by example, but what if you’ve never had examples yourself? We offer you small ways to shine disinfecting sunlight onto your management style and to improve your leadership immediately.
Hire Those with More Experience than you
Don’t be threatened! A true sign of a rotten manager is a bossy control freak who won’t hire the over-qualified for fear of being out-shined. You should actually be proactively looking for the yin to your yang, people who bring diversity of thought and experience and fill holes in your company.
Co-founders of eCommerce hub DollarHobbyz.com Bradley and Richard Arkell were basically born entrepreneurs, starting out when they fulfilled the need for chocolate, selling candy bars when their school vending machines were closed. And they’ve been successful and organized from the start, to this day, holding onto the spreadsheet of each candy bar sold. The struggle for them is that, by being cradle-to-grave entrepreneurs, they’ve never actually had to work for anyone else.
“We’ve pretty much worked for ourselves as entrepreneurs since we were ten, so we’ve never really had a true boss that we could have gleaned management skills from. When our company was still pretty young, it wasn’t hard to manage everyone as long as you showed them how much you cared,” Bradley said. This is still a great practice to continue with, but, as their company is growing fast, their team is outgrowing this technique.
Bradley continued, “As we grow, we are realizing that one of the most important things we can do is hire people with exceptional management skills and experience. There are a lot of great books and online resources for how to manage people effectively, but strategically hiring people with a proven track record of management success has helped the entire team refine their managerial skills – and it’s been an immense help to us in refining our own management skills.”
Aren’t sure of where your team’s holes lie? Try going through an exercise like the Team Competency Matrix both before and after new hires to revisit where you can improve as a growing team. And, of course, ask your team for feedback early and often.