For business owners: what are the biggest mistakes you made when starting your business (particularly in leading your employees)?
I'm building my team right now, and I want to be an effective leader. Any advice/past experiences that have helped you become a strong leader? Thanks!
My biggest mistake was not being what I wanted them to be. I didn't know what I didn't know. My favorite leadership quote is by Abraham Maslow, "If we are not modeling what we are teaching, then, we're teaching something else." We are not always teaching what we are teaching, but we are always teaching what we are modeling.
The people have to buy-in to the leader before they will buy-in to the vision. Who you are 24/7 matters to your team. Everything you do when interacting with others builds trust or creates distrust with the person you are interacting with and anyone watching. Trust increases your influence. Distrust decreases you influence. My mentor, John Maxwell says it best, "Leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing Less. Everything rises and falls on leadership."
Leadership is more caught than taught, so you have to be contagious. Who you think you are matters. Who you say you are matters more. But, who you really are matters most. I recently published my first book. It may interest you as a new leader because I wrote it for someone new to leadership or just starting to learn about leadership. The title is Demystifying Leadership Series: Defining Influence.
I've got several resources on my profile that are all less than 4 pages. Most are excerpts from my book. They're obviously free and put there to help. Check them out.
Be very obejctive in your job description.
Hire employees that you feel that they can work as the owner, with commitment.
Provide employees adequate tools and conditions to work well and provide the results you expect.
Every employee need workability, that means that they could use your company as a step to move forward. Don't be afraid of this, train people and provide what they need to be recognized by the competitors and they won't leave you.
Never forget that your motivations are entirely different. You dream of growing your business (and making a lot of money AFTER that has succeeded). You believe it can happen because of your abilities, luck and connections. Your employees will be skeptical of your ability to make magi until you show that you can do it consistently; even then they're not going to be motivated much by a 1 pct share that would at most be worth a few thousand dollars even in the event that a buyout did happen in some distant future. If they do not go the extra miles to help you realize your dream - remember that they are basically not included. To keep them motivated and on board, you'll need to treat them the same way (or better) than any other employer would do, or they will go there sooner or later.
One of the greatest mistake I made, which I later realized in a hard way was, putting more importance on the work than the people.
Of course, the pressure is always there to break even in the shortest time as you start a new business. I mean, we tend to be more productivity-oriented than people-oriented. And that is where we usually get it wrong. While, you have to firm as a business leader to avoid lackadaisical attitude to work among your employees, you should do your utmost to create a platform that makes them feel at home- seeing the business as theirs as well, rather than having a picture of being slaves under one bald-headed boss, who commands them around for his own interest. The moment they feel, 'we are being used', they lose focus and commitment, and you lose. But the moment they feel, 'we belong to this family', they try to give their best and become more productive. They would find it a fun to work for you, and you gain.
Think about this, and make your choice right, and you will succeed as a leader.
Find, live and articulate in word and deed the vision, the purpose and the why we do this for your people. That is leadership. Find, learn and develop the talents of your team. Expect a lot from them and hold them accountable to what they are capable of. That is team management
Earn RESPECT: Treat all equal (talk, delegate, engage) with all same: GOSSIP is the killer of culture in any organisation. Talk and walk your company's vision, mission, objectives/goals and VALUES. Talk ONLY business matters with your employees, never get personal and anger blows. Earn Your Achievements: Do regular performance reviews, know exactly what is going on and around in the company; how far each team is with their goals; and be informed all the time. Have regular meetings with your teams and be visible to all staff members. BE an Example, follow the policies, procedures and Code of Conduct.... there is much to learn and to implement. Read and be up to date with new developments in and around your profession.... good luck
Listen to your employees. They are the most important more so than customers.
Mohammed, its important that your employees fit the culture of your company. The best and most aggressive individual that does not fit will be a bigger detriment over time than one with less experience but can fit with your culture and vision that has the ability to grow. Also note that depending on how you are funded that you may be hiring for the time and place that you are. We hope that these people will be able to grow and develop with your growth but sometimes they cannot and you need to be and they need to understand that going into your venture.
i have started several business and the biggest mistake is a lack of clarity about exactly where the company is going, why and how (Vision, purpose, goals, targets, process) what this means to each employee about their roles, goals and how they will benefit personally. This needs to include an accurate description of each employees role and responsibilities. Ensure you hire employees for who they are and the potential they bring rather than just what they have done in their past (resume). Will Moore, Moore Performance Group
Leadership has its own levels within a leadership hierarchy.
You mentioned two things in your question (1) business owners and (2) team leaders ... and these are two different things to start with. Business owners are NOT always (and not necessarily) good leaders.
Secondly, you mentioned you wanted to be a "strong" leader. What do you mean by "strong" ??? and how does this fit (or does not fit) within your status starting to build a team ??
The third point before I even try to answer your question ... mentioning leadership levels and hierarchies ... leading a team ... is different than leading an organization .... and is different than leading a nation !
Within teams, we talk about team members and not necessarily employees ... not your personal employees anyway ... unless you are the boss who pays their salaries .
So .. it would be better to clarify your question and be more specific about what you want to achieve ... Is it "bossism" ?? Is it control ?? Is it authority and position ?? Is it strength ?? Is it power ?? Is it effectiveness ?? Is it overall success ???
And do not tell me you want all of them ... because there are differences and potential contradictions between some of them ..
All the best !!
Many of the answers below have good elements. The one thing I believe is that employees need to have a clear idea of how you are evaluating them which implies that you have figured out how to evaluate them. The more clear and the more objective the evaluation can be the better. You will have to fire people so you must lay the groundwork. You must show them by how you work what you want from them.
the major mistakes that you make is under capitalizing your business and selecting the wrong people because you believe in the first set of people and not realizing that selecting the right personnel is crucial and having sufficient funds in place before you can actually generate sales revenue.
DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT YOU HEAR AND BELIEVE ONLY HALF OF WHAT YOU SEE
Have realistic expectations and question everything and everyone do not accept it as gospel because you will be disappointed to a point of losing your money and your business.
Trust & Believe No One until they actually earn your trust and prove them selves to YOU
I know this sounds rather sceptical but be a sceptic and you will not be disappointed do not try to win friendship & popularity earn your position as the LEADER
work strategically you have to make them to feel comfortable with you but not to get your air because at the end of the day you make business and you don't have time to waste . Make them to Feel that they come in a group and paid for the services(knowledge, experience) which will provide . Closing all our fingers are not the same but all together they help us to carry out works. You can find the stronger and the weakest inside your team use each one to the maximum level everyone can provide the maximum in your job if you know how to use their experience and knowledge . I hope I help you a bit.
A few rules for successful leadership:
1) Identify your weaknesses and strengths, and build a team that rounds out the competency of workload capacity.
2) Never ever think you need to be the smartest person in the company. Hire people who are better than you are. By surrounding yourself with brilliance, success will follow if there is a collaborative atmosphere.
3) Find people who are collaborative in nature. Find people who get along and are pleasant. The most notable company I ever visited was a tech savvy health insurance organization where every single person I met in the company workforce was enthusiastic, friendly, smart, and ambitious. Every single person there could have been the face of the company. Every person was a benefit to the marketing efforts.
4) Find people with a strong moral compass - people who live lives of integrity and who would take a bullet for you, rather than put themselves first.
5) Be an example to all. If you set the tone for hard work, the workforce will follow. If you think you can come in for a few hours and expect everyone else to put in long hours, you'll breed resentment.
6) Empower people. Micromanaging is for control freaks who hired "yes men" or "yes women" and instead of leading by motivation, micromanagers tend to rule through fear tactics.
7) Brainstorm once per week with the entire team to identify challenges and directional vectors for where the company should head, break them into categories, and prioritize them as a group. Then work out details for solutions to the most important items.
8) Once per week schedule 2 hours of sacred time at the same time each week. This is to be time when you are not to be interrupted or side-tracked, and is a time when you will set long range goals, and action steps leading to the goals. Goals can be lofty, but action steps should be set low. For example, you may have a goal to be the number one manufacturer of buttons for shirts and pants. Your action plan for the week might be to obtain a jar, and start a collection of odd buttons. You would specify in your action plan exactly what time of day you would obtain the jar (and where), and how many times that week you would look for buttons;
9) Educate yourself continuously.
10) Develop a 50-year plan. Toyota wants to be the number one manufacturer of Commercial Jets in 50 years. If they didn't think that far out, they wouldn't even begin to head in that direction.
11) Join at least one executive think tank group. By surrounding yourself with other great leaders you will pick up enlightening tips and must-have policies and procedures that will apply to your business.
12) Use technology to be a leader in your industry. Smart companies outsource functions that they don't need to worry about. Payroll, HR, Legal, and IT Services are all examples of things you should probably outsource until you grow to a size where it makes sense to bring it in-house. This could be ten years from now, or you may always want to outsource certain functions. Some Business Associations have some of these benefits built in. Strategy and the right ERP solution should always be part of your mode of operations.
Hope that helps. Let me know if you'd like more information in utilizing technology to make all of the above happen.
In my Leadership course or private training I always start with my greatest lesson. Once upon a time I thought it was most important to treat everyone on staff the same, that somehow if I was consistent everyone would respect that. The reality is that no matter how strong or talented a team is a great leader understands the needs of his staff whether that is with the amount of direction, need for encouragement or structure, to understand an employee's need to be heard and to know who will share and who you have to pry things out of. Adapting to the needs of your team makes you the leader they need to fulfill their success.
One of the biggest mistakes that I made was thinking that my priority is everyone else's priority. People don't place the same importance on somethings as I do. In business sometimes you have to make your priority other peoples priority. My advice to any Leader/Entrepreneur for leading your employees is this: Never ask your employees to do anything you wouldn't do yourself. When you take on a mindset of Focus, Committment and Discipline your employees will do the same.
It is very important to understand the difference of personalties that make up your team. We believe we know people and do not know we are offending by doing what is normal for us. Reduce conflict and productivity will go up.
One way to describe an experienced person is as one that has made a number of mistakes, recovered and then avoided repeating them. As a serial mistake maker I’ve set myself a few rules for dealing with staff that might be helpful.
Never hire someone you can’t fire. Family and friends might seem like a good choice when you start out but if they don’t work out it can create huge problems if you need to let them go.
Don’t expect your employees to love the firm as much as you do. Even for the most committed professional it’s your baby not theirs until you give them a little equity; and as you grow the team expect that eventually you will have employees for which it’s just a job.
Write a detailed job description before you advertise the post. Know what you want from the person and clearly communicate that to them so everyone is on the same page; then be consistent about what you ask of them. If circumstances change discuss, agree and document the revised requirements. This shouldn’t restrict your flexibility but might prevent it biting you later.
Don’t get too close to even your most senior staff. Drinks and sports on a Friday are fine but if you become godparent to your CFO's child you’ve put yourself in breach of rule one.
Don’t make promises until you know you can keep them. Nothing upsets people like an unfulfilled promise. It’s much better to surprise and delight with an unexpected 10% bonus than to deliver 20% when 50% was expected.
Invest in training as soon and as much as will benefit the business without breaking the bank. People feel valued well above their pay grade when their employer invests in their professional development. Especially in a start-up where long term job security is not guaranteed adding to their competence offers some income protection and implies your loyalty to them which will hopefully be reciprocated.
I think the mistake I committed departing is to start alone and do all the task alone. But I do not regret it either because it taught me many things at once.
It could sound very easy, but is not, few rules:
be yourself; lessen your empployees; give them a clear direction; respect evrybody; choose positive people with positive thinking.