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!
1) Not being careful enough with bringing people on board who can be trusted and not acting faster when initial problems were detected.
2) Not contractually documenting goals, expectations and rewards for goals attained (contractual documentation safeguards against later misunderstanding from casual/verbal agreements).
3) Not staying focused on the key area of value your business aims to bring (it's ok to say 'no' to save business from becoming spread too thin).
Believing that your employees are motivated just like you.
People are not all motivated the same way. The key is asking the specific questions about what motivates them? Make notes and then give them projects and tasks that will motivate them to be highly successful.
All the best,
Understanding the difference between what motivates people and what makes them merely content with your workplace. Most people think money motivates - in the long run it does not. The primary motivator for people is the feeling of having their efforts appreciated as opposed to being viewed as a cog in the wheel of someone else's money machine.
There is a fine balance between being supportive and empathetic, and being friends. Don't try and change someone whose inherent style and demeanor is not compatible with their position. Learn to work cooperatively on results and let them formulate solutions to performance challenges. ask questions and invite them to determine solutions. Often poor perfomers will determine they need to pursue a new direction and make your job as a manager easier.
The biggest mistake I made was not getting their in put on certain project (or listening to them). If you trust your hiring an you feel like you made a good decision with those hires, then trust their opinion and ask for their input. I know we want to think we know it all but we don't . Sam Walton made it his business to ask employees what they thought about the business and what could they improve on as a company.
They are normally on the front lines and they hear and see what the customers wants.
Two go hand-in-hand. 1.) Not clearly articulating the vision & core values of the company & 2.) Not holding others accountable for results and consistency with the company core values.
The 2 biggest things'I had to learn'were:
1. I must be clear of' my expectations and be able to articulate them in a manner that was understood by all. Just because I understood my vision did not mean they did.
I learned there are 4 core personalities and they all hear things differently. I just assumed everyone saw things the way i did. Boy was I wrong. Check out www.keirsey.com if you want to learn more about the basic personality types and how to lead them.
2.. Make sure your words mirror your actions.
Find people who, in at least some important ways, are better than you and work out a creative, performance-oriented mode of compensation. It is difficult to build up a business on the backs of weak, poorly motivated individuals.
My biggest mistake, which I have repeated more than once, is keeping an employee longer than I should have to avoid the guilt of firing him/her. Whether it's for productivity or financial reasons, you have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the company. Dragging it out just prolongs the problem for everyone.
My other biggest mistake was not having a partnership contract outlining the responsibilities and expectations of each partner in a two-owner company I was a part of. We eventually worked the details out, of course, but the early years would have been a LOT easier with a contract. You never think you'll need it but you always do.
Weekly status updates are a must - a gold mine of productivity. These can be done through online task management software or by a simple email. Status updates keep every staffer and management team member on track and motivated. Have employees list what they have completed in the past week and what they plan to complete in the upcoming week. They should be a way of bragging about accomplishments and a motivational tool. If they turn into a source of whining or constant stress, there may be other issues at hand that need to be solved.
We have contracted employees. For me is when you have someone that says I want to come work for you and they say that they have their own business but not getting any business and they just want to learn from an expert. You teach them a few pointers and let them work on a wedding or event and then they do not fulfill their agreement to stay and leave after one event because they soak up all your ideas and go out on their own to do it whether right or wrong. Lesson learned: Signed non compete and if you have your own business, charge for my teaching
1) Please be clear about role expectations up front when building the team - something like 40% of people that leave a new job leave within the first six months. It is presumed that this is because the "job" was not as expected.
2) Take the time to clarify assignments - no matter how crazy it gets. I have a recent blog on this topic - http://www.growthroughpeople.com/#!Delegation-Science-not-Art/c15i6/754F3F03-7B92-4F7C-93D7-8D75A27B4A9D
3) Listen - many "leaders" I have come across spend too much time talking.
4) There are some fairly predictable stages a company progresses through while growing. There are some steps you can take to mitigate this risk - see another of my blogs at http://www.growthroughpeople.com/#!The-Winds-of-Change-are-Forecasted-for-Startups/c15i6/898F7370-F670-4E2A-A9AC-8C717D1A4391
1. Understand ground reality, which may be very different from the dream world you have created for yourself.
2. Understand the capabilities of your people and assign work accordingly. It is good to have a friendly environment; BUT, keep a fine balance between "tasks" and "relationships".
3. Keep focus on results through monitoring and follow-up.
I started my first business when I was 21 yrs old in1989 in India.. Starting a business in conservative society for a female without any business background and knowledge was simply a very big challenge.
The mistakes I did were the following.
1. I was not a front line worker in the newly marketing oriented company and remained as Boss of the team.
2. Poor in HR management
3. Lack of expertise
4. and poor in fund management.
But certainly business idea was brilliant and at par with present Social networking in Internet.
Interesting question. There is a fine line between leading and managing. The leader must communicate, communicate, communicate and continue to ensure understanding of the vision and setting the milestones required to achieve the mission of the business. The job of managing is to keep the organization moving forward to meet the milestones. All too often, assuming your have recruited talent, managing becomes overbearing and demotivating rather than the role of support and provider of the resources needed for success. This can be easily seen as innovation begins to deteriorate. It is better to ask too much (the challenge) and help people stretch than to ask too little.
Best leaders delegate. First of all they know how to choose associates. To know people is a step that cannot be avoided to have confidence and know what you can wait for and ask them.
I use Facial Psychology to understand how people think and what they can do for me. Watch my website nemopsy(dot)fr . I'll give you more information on it. It is surprisingly accurate.
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.
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 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.
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.