Many business owners end up going through the hiring and firing process multiple times in order to build a strong team.

They work really hard to hire and train great people. They invest a lot of time, energy and resources in the hopes of creating an efficient team. But, often they end up stuck, frustrated, and confused when things don’t work out well.

Maybe this has happened to you…

By the time a new person joins your team, he has been interviewed extensively. She’s proven she is highly qualified and eager. He appears ready to contribute greatly to the growth of the business.  

But as time passes, you realize your workload has not decreased. In fact, you spend a lot of time managing your people and you’re left feeling frustrated. You just can’t get to those “bigger and better things” you expected when you expanded your team.

It’s tempting to take this situation personally, but the failure is not about your skills or shortcomings. It’s a failure of the approach you use to hire, manage, and lead your team.

So where are many business owners actually falling short?

1. They fail to hire profitably

Profitable hiring includes more than a job description, candidate search, and interview process, and doesn’t end when a new team member signs an employment agreement. Hiring profitably includes the onboarding process and a trial period where both you and your team member build relationship and demonstrate value to one another.

Hiring profitably means:

  • Reinforcing your corporate culture and demonstrating your core values in action.  Ideally, you’ve already ensured that the new team member is a cultural fit for your organization.  But now that she is a part of your team, demonstrate how she is expected to act and guide her as she adjusts to her role.
  • Review your organizational chart together. Ensure that he understands the responsibilities of other team members and knows  who to approach with each type of question he may have. Give him the tools (and encouragement) to rely on the other team members rather than approaching you with each little question that arises.
  • Explain location and availability of team resources. Welcome your new team member into the virtual office with a complete “tour” of links, resources, and tools. Empower her to do begin filling her role quickly and to your standards.  
  • Set proper expectations. Give him clear instructions and indicate which tasks require following step-by-step instruction and which tasks allow freedom because the desired outcome is more important than how he got there. Share guidance on when approval is required and when a personal judgment call is acceptable.

This is exactly the advice I shared with Rosie, a colleague of mine I mentored recently. She used my suggestions and the team playbook I created as a guide when onboarding a new community manager, Shannon. Rosie gave Shannon insight into the company culture, core values, and procedures, as well as an introduction to each tool in their virtual office. Responsibilities were reviewed and together they discussed the best ways to embrace the mission of each project.

Rosie says, “Natasha demonstrated that it is just as important for a new team member to know the why of what needs to be done as the how of what to do. [Following this process] enabled Shannon to own the outcome of her work.”

Of course, hiring profitably is only one portion of the puzzle. Many business owners are frustrated with team member performance because…

2. They fail to manage profitably

When you run a business alone, you are (by necessity) the driving force of your business in every respect.  Once you begin hiring people to help you, however, the “solopreneur” way of working stops being sustainable.

Managing profitably means moving beyond intuition and autopilot. It means communicating directions and sharing information rather than keeping all the “how to” stuff in your head. Managing profitably includes explaining, sharing expectations, and giving consistent guidance.

If you fail to do these things, your team will be forced to come to you for instruction, guidance, and approval at each step of every project – or will feel lost and unsupported as they struggle on their own.

Not only will you begin to wonder if you’ve hired the right people, your team will begin to feel demotivated, frustrated, and unsuccessful. Those gems you worked so hard to find will begin to consider leaving your team.

That’s why it’s so critical to turn your repetitive processes into workflows (systems).  Such systems not only allow your team members work efficiently, but they also help you to track progress with ease and evaluate individual team member performance.

For creative entrepreneurs, however, relying on systems is easier said than done.  My client, Jennie, thought of systems were restrictive and impersonal and feared they would limit her ability to do the work she loves.

She was pretty reluctant when we started working together, but agreed to work on systems with me because her manager of operations begged her. However, the more we worked together, the more Jennie saw the power of systems.

She discovered how to create systems from the inside out, and use them to leverage her strengths.

Now, when something goes wrong, instead of wondering who dropped the ball, or thinking that she has to pick up the ball, Jennie thinks, “We need a better system.”  It’s such an elegant way forward!  Jennie’s entire team is more productive and happy now!

What do hiring profitably and managing profitably have in common? Mindset – which brings me to the third reason why business owners don’t see results from their teams.

3. They fail to lead profitably

Mindset shifts are crucial when you transition from running your business alone to leading a team. You must accept that you can’t pivot as quickly as you used to or drop and add projects rapidly the moment inspiration strikes. Leading profitably means considering the needs of your team, communicating clearly, and discussing changes in approach before implementing them.

Now, I know what you may be thinking – seeing and seizing opportunity is what allowed your business to grow to its current revenue mark. I understand this, but something has changed. You now have a team who works alongside you. Unexpectedly dropping projects or changing expectations leaves them confused and unhappy, creating stress and inefficiency.

Leading profitably means making a plan and sticking with it for a set time period. It means giving and receiving feedback from your team so they feel connected and supported. Leading profitably means monitoring your team’s performance and giving praise as well as critique.

Leading profitably means building trust, giving freedom, and asking your team “how can I get out of your way?”

Scary, I know, but leading profitably is the best way to allow your team members to assume ownership of their responsibilities, freeing you to do the bigger and better work you plan.   

When we began working together, my client Stephanie couldn’t imagine the results of working with a team. She hired, trained, and began managing a well-qualified team member.  Once the system began working smoothly, however, there were a few difficulties. Stephanie realized that her mindset needed to shift, and she began giving her team member the freedom to assume ownership of the work. Stephanie now feels freedom to focus on growing her business, rather than managing task based details.

Why are you struggling to get the most from your team members? Most likely the answer can be found in your approach and the mindset shifts required to build a strong, efficient team. I encourage you to step back and consider how you think about this time in your business. Are you ready to hire profitably, manage profitably, and lead profitably?

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