6 Tips for Managing Your Start-Up Team

Management feature image
Image by: PublicDomanPictures
By Dexter Lunde

When we are placed in management type situations, our actions are instantly under scrutinization. We have to be an effective boss and be friendly enough for our team to turn to us if they have a concern. If you’ve never been in a management position, it can be hard to strike an equal balance.

#1) Seeing the Big Picture

In Steve Ballmer’s last interview as Microsoft’s CEO, he talked about a lot of things. He touched on a lot of advice for new management. One of which was the concept of looking at the big picture.

”If the CEO doesn’t see the playing field, nobody else can. The team may need to see it too, but the CEO really needs to be able to see the entire competitive space.”

He says that seeing the big picture is important for the CEO because it helps bring perspective into the decisions that you make for your business. How will this decision effect our company in the long run? Will it benefit our short-term goals as well? Will it be more difficult now but benefit our long-term goals?

This is also important for managing the ideas of your new team. You have to keep the big picture in perspective when you approve or veto their decisions. You also have to consider your intentions for individual team members in the long run. Do you think this team member will benefit your company and vice versa? Does he appear to want to stay with your company through thick and thin?

#2) Too Many Meetings

Jason Fried (the co-founder of 37 Signals) says that new CEO’s have a tendency of scheduling too many meetings. If you work with “creatives” (creative people that need to be innovative, inventive, and create new ideas), they need unstructured time to be able to get their minds in gear and get inspired.

”[Meetings] chop your day into small bits, so you have only 20 minutes of free time here or 45 minutes there.”

So the solution is to schedule less meetings or start the day off with a morning meeting so that you don’t break up the concentration of your team.

#3) Meandering Management

”During the day, I make five or six trips to the kitchen at the other end of our office. On my way, I try to talk to people one on one, solicit their questions, and reiterate our strategy as it pertains to them.”

This quote was from Marc Lore (the founder of Diapers.com). He makes the most of his team’s time by chatting with them individually without having to schedule individual meetings. He addresses their needs and worries (the sign of good management) and gets up-to-date information from them so that he’s rarely surprised.

#4) The Other “Open Door Policy”

Micromanaging your team is a sign that you don’t trust how they handle situations and tasks. In the beginning, you need to make sure that you’re managing your time well in order to show your team what you expect of them.

Don’t close your door. An open door policy generally means that your team can meander into your office if they have any questions or concerns (this is a good management tool). However, this is a different open door policy. If you leave your door open (literally and figuratively), your team can see what you do every day. Be a good example for them.

Matt Mullenweg (the founder of WordPress) says that he keeps himself on task by using Rescue Time, which is a program that runs in the background of your computer. It tracks what you do every day so that you can see how much of your time is spent doing distracting activities versus productive activities, then it e-mails you a report of your activities during the week.

While some people are uncomfortable with this amount of monitoring, it is quite the useful tool and will keep you on track.

#5) “Use” Your Team

You hired a team for a specific reason: so that you can delegate tasks to people who specialize in certain areas. There is no reason why you should be doing tasks that you can delegate to them. You picked your team, which means you should be able to trust them. Don’t micromanage unless they give you reason to and those cases should be rare if at all.

Bob Parsons (the founder of GoDaddy) says that he can make time for any task in his schedule because he can effectively delegate tasks to his team.

“That gives me tremendous bandwidth. And when I want to get away…everybody who works with and for me knows how to handle things, so it doesn’t matter if I’m here or not. It shows trust.”

#6) Find a Mentor

When you begin to have management problems (a team member is acting irresponsibly or under-performing, etc.) you have to be able to target the problem and deal with it as soon as you can. In these types of situations, it’s great to have a mentor. Make sure that it is someone who you can trust.

Look within your circle of friends and your business network. In my opinion, the latter is best because I don’t like to mix my personal and professional life. Just make sure that you’re not sharing personal information (like specific names) or company secrets.