Team management is tougher than it seems.
On the surface, all you have to do is hire the right people to do the right tasks.
However, every startup CEO soon realizes that even if you have the right people, lacking a managing structure can hurt your business performance.
To ensure that your business grows smoothly and that all tasks are complete in a timely manner you often have to strike a perfect balance.
On one side of the coin, you want to ensure that people respect your management and are diligent towards their deadlines, tasks and are doing their best work.
On the other end of the double-edged sword, you want to give everyone enough creative freedom without burdening or pressuring them to do more than they can handle at a given time.
This seems impossible, huh?
It’s tough, yes. However, it’s doable.
Simple tips for effective team management
1. Have a RACI-like structure
The first thing you need to do is build yourself a RACI-structure, also known as RACI matrix or responsibility assignment matrix (RAM). Usually, this would be a task performed by your project manager.
It looks something like this —
It’s a simple foundation that can serve wonders once the tasks and responsibilities start piling up.
- Responsible — The person that’s the “owner” of the task and is to be held responsible
- Accountable — A person that works closely with the owner and is accountable for the completion of the task, but isn’t the owner.
- Consulted — The person that has a say in the completion of the task, but isn’t responsible or accountable
- Informed — A person that has to be informed for a specific task, because it will impact their workflow in some way
A RACI matrix is often used in small startups and big corporations alike to properly track the completion of the tasks.
It helps avoid confusion on who’s doing what.
And as you know, in a startup, responsibilities can often tangle between different people, regardless of their specific position.
2. Understand that “TIME” isn’t the most important factor in productivity
A common mistake startup owners make is tracking the time a person takes to complete a specific task.
However, time is a poor measurement tool.
Some people might require more time to do a task more thoroughly, while others might whim through it, resulting in poor quality work.
Even when talking about small tasks, who’s to say WHAT is the RIGHT time to complete the task?
Instead of measuring and tracking your team by “TIME”, track the number of completed tasks and the quality of the completion instead.
This will also help communicate YOUR VALUES to your team.
It’s not about the time you spend on the task. It’s about the quality of work. We should as much work as possible to proceed forward.
After all, isn’t this the message you want to send to your team?
3. Make sure EVERYTHING is documented
You wouldn’t want your team members to waste too much time on unnecessary bureaucratic work.
However, documentation exists for a reason.
Whether you want to set up Trello boards, Google Sheets or anything in between, documentation is key.
Next time you have a team meeting, don’t just talk through the tasks everyone wants to do.
Put everything down in a document. This is one of the reasons why we have Standard Operating Procedures and Checklists for almost everything we do, even something as basic as a marketing audit.
Someone has mentioned that they will deliver the work by X day of the week?
Put that somewhere in writing.
Having an emphasis on documentation will ensure that you won’t lose track of what each team member is doing.
On the other hand, it will ensure your team members that you are writing everything down.
4. Don’t BEFRIEND your Employees on Social Media
According to various stats, more than 89% of employees say they often waste work time on social media.
That’s scary for a manager. After all, you don’t want your business to lose money with people checking their socials all the time, right?
So what do most managers do? They befriend their employees on social media.
If they feel observed, the thinking goes, they are less likely to waste time, right?
Well, you need to consider the bigger picture here.
If an employee wants to waste time, they can easily go “offline” in the chat, while still scrolling through their NewsFeed.
So let’s ban access to Facebook and other social media platforms!
Would you be more productive, if someone tells you NOT to be?
Whether you “ban” something or make someone feel observed, you’ll only help them justify wasting their time.
You’ll make your employees feel unsafe while increasing their satisfaction from “cheating the system”. If you ban social media platforms, they’ll visit meme sites, like Reddit, instead!
Plus, everyone needs a break every now and then.
No one is at 100% of their work capabilities throughout the full 8-hour workday.
5. Consider flexible hours
Speaking of work hours and productivity, you might want to consider flexible work hours.
Multiple studies show that a flexible work schedule works wonders for productivity.
The only consideration is that your business operations can run smoothly and people are able to attend team meetings.
Outside of these core concerns, allowing people to work on a flexible schedule can help increase the overall productivity of your team.
6. Get Productivity Feedback from Your Team
In an Agile setting, team leaders often hold feedback sessions where everyone is able to share their thoughts about the previous “sprint” session.
You can use this tactic for your broader business operation.
Hold feedback meetings with core members of your team and encourage your employees to give feedback about how you can help them be more productive.
After all, the best managers are leaders. And great leaders are able to allow everyone to DO their best.
7. Remote work is the future
A lot of startup teams are built with a remote-first culture.
Almost every SaaS tool for productivity and team-management is built with the notion of empowering a remote-work environment.
While you might want to have an office-driven culture, allowing your employees to work remotely on occasion might work wonders for their productivity.
Today, freedom of work is at the forefront of the items employees are looking for in a company, alongside a strong vision, mission, and proper remuneration.
8. Understand the value of each team member
When building your work processes, ensure that you are able to track the performance of each team member.
Let’s say you have a sales team and person A is performing better than person B in a given week.
Who’s to say that the leads person A is getting isn’t simply hotter? Who’s to say Person B isn’t the better salesperson overall?
Make sure to understand the variables in a work process.
Build your work process and have a system in place that allows you to track the performance of each individual employee.
9. Employ the power of daily and weekly updates
A lot of management teams are moving away from daily task management and instead offer better freedom to their employees.
Working on a person’s own sense of responsibility, managers are starting to allow employees to pick and choose their daily tasks.
How does it happen?
Have a system in place that allows everyone to understand the priority of the tasks at hand.
Once you do so, simply ask that employees send over a daily update to your email about the work that they’ve done at the end of each given day.
Put emphasis on a short and succinct email EOD update.
Make sure to help your employees understand that you want nothing more than one or two lines about what they’ve worked on throughout the day.
You wouldn’t want your inbox filled with essays about someone’s workday.
Instead, a few bullet points with information about the completed tasks during the day should be more than enough.
10. Build a reward system
Having “employee of the month” is an age-old tactic for improved productivity.
However, it’s difficult to implement it today. In fact, some employees might rally against it, seeing it as an unnecessary divider to the team’s unity.
So, instead of a simple reward, build a fair system that promotes the team’s unity, while emphasizing the productivity of individual team members.
Plus, make sure it’s something fun and that it’s taken lightly in comparison to the overall company goals.
After all, it should serve as an additional motivation boost for employees, not the main motivator.
11. Build a productive work environment
Last, but not least, you should make sure to build a productive work environment.
Setting up values and atmosphere your team can stand behind can go a long way in improving their overall productivity.
Ensuring that people feel a level of trust, and that they are valued can help them do their best.
A lot of managers make the mistake to be too tough to the point of breaking.
That’s why people tend to dislike managers.
So, instead of being a tough manager, be a reasonable leader.
Lead your team towards your business goals and you’ll see how they’ll rally around you and make your management job far easier.
Bonus: Team management Dos and Don’ts for first time managers
First time managing?
A lot of startup managers find themselves in an uncomfortable “managing” position.
What starts out as a passion project, turns into a full-blown company with 100 employees.
What do you do?
Well, take a breather. Don’t panic! And know that no one starts out as the “perfect” manager.
Of course, to help you keep the balance between your employees respecting you and losing control over what’s happening in your company, we have a few tips.
Team management “DOs” for first-time managers
- Lead by Example — You’ve probably heard this already a thousand times. However, it’s the thing that’ll make or break your management process.
You can’t slack off and not follow your deadlines and expect your employees to do so. Lead by example!
- Always Communicate — Be proactive in your communication. You can’t expect your employees to actively reach out to you. You are their manager and they might not be comfortable sharing something that might otherwise be crucial for the improvement of your business.
- Establish Long-Term Goals — Make sure that everyone in your team is familiar with your vision. Rally your employees around specific goals to allow them to do their best.
- Be Consistent with your Decisions — Treat every employee on equal ground. If someone messes up and you punish them, while you forgive someone else for the same mistake, it will look like a relationship is more important than the actual work that’s being done.
- Help others grow — Help your employees grow. Work with them to do their best work.
Team management “DON’Ts” for first-time managers
- Take All The Credit — Whether in a PR setting or speaking to investors, NEVER take credit away from your team. Granted, you shouldn’t undermine your specific role. However, make sure that your team understands that their work is being valued and credited when necessary.
- Get Lost in Unnecessary Details — You are responsible for the big picture. You are the person that has to set the goals and rally your team to complete those goals. Everything else is just tactics and daily on-goings. Make sure to focus on the big picture, while managing the daily activities of your team.
- Isolate Yourself — A common mistake first-time managers do is to isolate themselves from the team. Often fearing they’ll build out too close of a personal relationship, first-time managers tend to take a step back from the team. Instead, you should WORK WITH your team to achieve your goals. Don’t isolate yourself.
- Do it all — You are a manager for a reason. You are there to help manage the team towards victory. Of course, especially in a startup, you might be required to do mediary tasks. While this might be the case, make sure that you don’t try to do it all yourself. Instead, mediate tasks to your team.
- Play Favorites — Having a reward system in place can help. However, it should be a clear and transparent system, where everyone is equal. If YOU are playing favorites, employees can feel that they are not being valued or treated equally.
Drop me your feedback in the comments section – I’d love to hear about your team management experiences.
About The Author:
Houston Golden is the Founder & CEO of BAMF, where he led the company from $0 to $3M+ in revenue in its first two years and has built a proven process for turning clients into LinkedIn Influencers through viral content that has generated over 300M+ organic views.