Growing your business to the point where you're able to hire people is an amazing accomplishment. To evolve from an entrepreneur to an employer is an exciting step. But to be honest, finding quality, reliable candidates that you can entrust your business with can be a challenge. Up to 56% of businesses think finding great talent is their greatest challenge and I can say I wholeheartedly agree! I've struggled with several contractors and freelancers over the past couple of years, unfortunately leading to ultimately having to fire a few. Despite my best efforts to communicate and outline my expectations upfront, somewhere along the way there was a disconnect leading to missed deadlines, unresponsiveness or an inferior work product. Often times as a result, the task or activity I thought I’d outsourced fell back onto my plate to take care of. It's been quite a journey and in the midst of this process, I've learned three things:
1. I cannot teach someone to do what I haven't determined an outcome for: I am obsessed with workflows! I think they will solve all of my problems and I'm constantly trying to build and rework them for my team. But the reality is, I was focusing on the process when I should have been focusing on the outcome. What do I want to happen? What defines success for what I’m asking for? Asking those questions would help me get proper feedback from the team on how to go about getting it done. 2. I have to trust to delegate: Like I said, I've been burned before, which makes it difficult to give up processes and tasks because I'm scared something won't get done to my standards. But if I want to stand in my role as CEO, I have to trust that things will get done without my hands in it. It's a hard and necessary truth to not only protect my bandwidth but to empower people to own their part in Little Fish. 3. I have to check-in: Often. Frequently. Intentionally. If I want to lead my team effectively, I have to know what's working and what's not, and that requires an open line of communication and regular peeks into how things are going. It may be a weekly call or a monthly team meeting, but to keep everyone on the same page (and talking to each other), I have to be deliberate about talking to the people that help hold the team up about where we are, where we're going, and how we get there.
I’ve learned that managing people will always be a bit of trial and error, but proper communication on expectations and establishing frequent feedback loops at the onset are key. It helps to minimize friction and hopefully avoid having tough conversations down the road, all leading to alignment between the company and the people we hire to support it.
P.S. Whether you’re going at it alone or you’ve got a team of support, give yourself grace! We’re all doing the best that we can.