Originally posted on November 28th, 2014.
Not only have I been the support person (as an OBM for 8 years) I’ve also trained and mentored virtual support professionals now since 2007 so I have the inside scoop. I hear the stories. Some of you may be frustrating your team… quite often without even realizing it.
Here are the top 9 ways that you may be driving your team nutty.
1. Changing your mind and not committing to a plan.
One of the best ways to get the most from your team is to decide what you want ahead of time (ideally 90 days out at least) and commit to the plan. Every time you change your mind it means wasted work, wasted time and in many cases having to do things over and over again. Not only does this frustrate your team but it means you are paying for work that you no longer want or need (and quite often puts your team in a crunch having to fast-track your new idea.)
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not to say that you can never change your mind – we all do it at times. But when it’s the norm vs. the exception (ie: bright shiny object syndrome) that is really going to drain your team.
2. Not giving them time to get to know you and your biz
It takes someone at least 90 days to really get to know you and your business. Yep, you read that right – we’ve tracked and tested this for years now.
You know your business inside out, so you may forget that any new people who are working with you have alot to learn about how your business is run. That’s not to say that they can’t do great work while learning – they can – but you do need to be OK with the fact that they won’t know everything overnight. They will have questions. They may need to clarify stuff. Be OK with that and ready to answer.
3. Expecting them to read your mind
The key to successful team leadership is to master communication. Your role as a leader is to be crystal clear in what you want from your team – be it a simple task or a big project. You need to be clear in your request, the deliverable/result you want and the deadline.
Expecting them to “just keep up and figure it out” isn’t going to be enough – especially if they are new to the team and don’t know you yet (as per the previous point.) If you aren’t clear in your requests you won’t get what you want – simple as that.
4. Expecting your team to work nights & weekends
You are welcome to work anytime that you like, but don’t expect your team to keep the same hours that you do. I know many creative entrepreneurs find that evenings and weekends are their most productive times – where we come up with all kinds of great ideas – and in our enthusiasm we often throw stuff at our team expecting unrealistic turnarounds.
In other words, don’t send your brilliant idea over Saturday afternoon and ask them to have it done Monday by 9am. That’s an unrealistic timeline and really puts your team members in a bind. If you are in the middle of a launch and it’s “all hands on deck” then you want to plan ahead of time for folks to put in extra time – that’s fine – but again it needs to be the exception and not the norm.
5. Micro-managing your folks (or not giving them anything at all)
If you have made a clear request, set your expectation on the deliverable and have given them a deadline then it’s time to let them do the job. You don’t need to know how they are doing every step and you don’t need to keep checking in with them all the time (unless they are late with the work). I am a recovering control freak so I get that this can be hard. So long as they get the work done it doesn’t matter how they got there.
Likewise, don’t hire someone to help you with someone and then never hand it over. You are wasting their time and your money (and probably keeping yourself “safe” doing work that shouldn’t be on your plate anymore.)
6. Not doing YOUR job so they can do theirs
There are times that your team needs something from you in order to do their job. Everytime you are late on your part it has a trickle down effect that throws off the entire team making everyone late.
If you are late for some reason – we all are from time to time – let them know that you will be late and adjust the timeline accordingly. ie: If you were to get them something on Monday so that it could be ready for Wednesday, but you can’t get it to them until Wednesday now then the timeline needs to change too.
7. Rescheduling or avoiding team meetings
I am a firm believer in a weekly team meeting with your key players – so that you can checkin on progress, get updates on projects and clarify upcoming projects/work. Many issues arise when leaders don’t make a weekly meeting part of the ongoing communication/connection with their team. (and it doesn’t have to take long!)
Everytime you reschedule a meeting with a team member – especially if you do it regularily – you are essentially telling them that they don’t matter to you. If your team matters to you then honor your committment to meet with them weekly.
8. Taking your stress out on them
We all have our moments. We all get stressed out from time to time as leaders. That doesn’t mean you get to take it out on your team members.
I’m honestly surprised how often I hear stories of leaders snapping at or yelling at their team (even worse when it’s in front of others). There is never a reason to yell at a team member – even if they screwed up. If you are angry or frustrated find a way to “vent” that before you communicate. And if you do have a grumpy moment with a team member make sure to own it and apologize.
9. Not allowing people to grow within your company
I’ve had members of my team stay with me for years – 5 years or more in some cases. And I know they will be with me for many more years to come.
Why? Because I know their goals and aspirations. I look for ways to give them opportunity to grow with the business and try new things. I don’t try to keep them in a role they no longer want or have outgrown simply because I want them there (surefire way for them to quit at some point.)
If you want a team that will stay with you for a lifetime create a space where they get to grow.
There you have it – 9 ways that leaders may (inadvertenly) be driving their team nuts.
Curious to hear your thoughts?