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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Micro WHAT?

Entrepreneurs often were managers in a prior position.  They had specific duties relating to a narrow field like product development, business development, or some other unique function.  This was the case with me.  I ran a major research program during my early years and later was involved in business development.  Yes, I did micromanage my team early on, so I am telling you to do something I did not do well in my early years. TRUST YOUR TEAM!

Interestingly, one of the issues that new managers miss is that when they take on broader roles in the company, they tend to help the certain teams too much and ignore others.  Those getting the help are in areas the new manager knows the most about and they tend to stay away from those areas they know the least about.  A pattern can emerge if you are not careful and that is one of micromanaging a select team and not managing the rest of the company.   This leads to all kinds of problems with the team and their morale.

Interacting with new CEOs is always enlightening.  You see a remake of your life years ago.  For example, the micromanaging issue is one that you can advise on, but you know that once upon a time you did it too.  You can alert the CEO but you cannot make them change overnight.  

It is so easy to make the team disenchanted when they have you are watching them around the clock on every issue and they feel you will override their decisions.  Likewise, those not receiving any interactions think you do not care and tend to slack off their duties.  This has a tendency to be a NO WIN for all concerned.

You need a great team working for the startup and want them to work as a team.  You spend significant time and resources trying to recruit them to the early stage company, which they see as risky.  Doing a great job on recruiting is half the battle.  The other half is with your ability to provide objectives and monitor their progress.  It is fine to interact when they need help, but try to hold back when they do not.  Have regular meetings to get reporting on tasks and milestone completion.  You can try to spot problem points and provide suggestions.  This is a balancing act, but if you do not do it right you will move too far to the right or left. 

Your team is the company’s greatest asset with the product being second most important.  Learning to manage your team without over managing or under managing them is a task worthy of your learning.  If they are great, learn to trust them to deliver.  They may deliver in a different way than you would have but who cares.  Ask a simple question, did they do what was expected? How they did it may be much less important.  Maybe you will find they did the job differently but in a manner that was better for the company in general.