I don’t want to crib but it is. You might have been a subordinate your whole life and you might think that you know what it is like being a subordinate but the moment you become a boss, bam! - you are lost. I was employed for two years before Green Apple Solutions happened. And I was not a model employee. I questioned authority and argued against conventional wisdom. I did everything my way even if it meant I had to do it all over again taking the path my senior had initially prescribed. After some time you think that you know all the tricks in the book but the moment you get a team to handle you realize there is still so much more to know. It is especially difficult if you are a young guy like me. You are enthusiastic and lack patience. You tend to lose temper when you are lied to blatantly and most of the time it is confusing. All these feelings increase many times over if you are an entrepreneur and you have butt load of things that needs to be done. It is tough to keep a straight face when your teammates bombard you with excuses you can see right through. It is difficult to be calm when the output is not in proportion with the input that you put in. But like i say every experience comes with a lesson. It is very important for an entrepreneur to be a good team manager if he has to go forward as there is nothing more valuable than having a team that shares the same goals and ideas as you. A good team can make or break a startup. My team has grown to 25 people now and I too have learnt a few of tips in the past two years. I am sure most of them could be found in management books as clearly i am not the first one to be leading a team, but I think they would be helpful to someone who is a young entrepreneur like me and is new to managing a team.
Realize your comfort zone - There might be a lot of schools of thought in the market that tell you how friendly/professional your relationship should be with your team. You can choose whatever level of friendship you might want to but make sure that it is within your comfort zone. You should not be over/under doing. I personally feel that consistency in your behavior makes a great impact on your team. People usually consider being predictable to be boring but it is extremely helpful and comfortable if your team realizes and remembers or in the best scenario able to predict what you are going to expect from them. They will never be able to resonate with you if you keep changing your attitude towards them and this will mean inefficiency.
Avoid favoritism - It is extremely difficult to not have favorites but it is important that you try to avoid it. It can harm you in two ways - one, your favorite might start taking you for granted and start slacking and two of the rest of the team might start attributing your dissatisfaction with them to your favoritism and stop trying hard. In a team you need all hands to be working together and rewards/demerits should be awarded appropriately.
Being respectful, approachable and accommodating goes a long way for a leader.
Stay aware - By this I certainly do not mean that you tap your employees’ phones and make them surrender their Facebook passwords. You just have to be aware that what is going on your teams lives outside of their interaction with you. This way you will always be in a better position to understand their behavior and actions. This part is easily covered just by being friendly.
Stay approachable - It is imperative that your team mates feel that they can come to you when in problem. It strengthens your relationship improving the team dynamic and also ensures that you are not kept in the dark about issues that might affect you. Willingness to help is extremely important if you want this step covered.
Be respectful - this is Interacting with People 101. Respect them if you want them to respect you. Appreciate their contributions and make them feel important.
Of course regular lunches, holidays, getaways and parties always help :)
Strategies change with time and team but these are some of the key points that if taken care of will help you manage a team any size any day.
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I have helped many startups in building their products and I would be happy to have a chat with you about your idea. Catch me on twitter at @akhilrex