Following on from my second article #WhyManagersFail Part 2, I learnt several lessons from another business I started. The team was small and highly technical. We were operating in the data space and our customers were as technical if not more so than ourselves. It’s a tough space to be in and boy did I make a few mistakes.
These were the hard lessons learnt and I identified these 5 traits that can contribute to destroying a small focussed team.
1. Not leading by example
I used to think that because I was the owner of the business, I could do what I wanted, and staff members had to abide by the rules and policies or the company. It was almost that I chose to preach by example instead of always being the example. Be careful! Your staff are always watching you. Leading by example, sets the standard to which people should work toward.
Because I started my career during the sanction’s era, it was the norm to work long hours and always get things right first time – we didn’t have a choice. To expect the same from your staff is unrealistic and demeaning. You forget that you hired them for a reason, not to be a robot. To expect the staff to work the way I did or expected had an adverse effect. I had to trust that they will find the solutions on their own. Guess what! they exceeded my expectations after I took the shackles off.
3. Paying poorly
In the beginning stages of the business money was so tight that I often had to forgo a monthly salary. It is easy to forget that staff are also people and that they also have mouths to feed and people to support. But they are the ones who drive your business forward. This means their success and wellbeing is directly linked to your company’s success. I had to relook at this and start paying above average salaries, not only to motivate but also send a message that their welfare was important.
4. A lack of training
Money was tight. So training was at the bottom of my priorities. But the lack of training started to show when we couldn’t keep up with the changes in technology and had to always “make a plan”. It was a no brainer that it was costing us a great deal more by not making certain that the staff knew how to do their job to the best of their ability.
5. Not managing stress levels
It’s well documented that stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. What the researchers don’t tell you is that the knock-on effect on your staff when you are constantly irritable and ratty. They start avoiding you and only telling you things that you want to hear. This is the death knell for your small business. I had to change my whole way of life, new diet, gym everyday (it was a battle), but I did start to see the effects after a few months. I was calmer when the storms broke and could easily handle difficult situations. My staff were happier as well.
These traits were some of the more difficult ones to identify as they were the more subtle soft skills I had to learn and master. Once I had (to a degree), I could see the difference in my staff, my customers and my family.