I’ve been building businesses for the past 14 years and I can honestly say that the biggest block to the growth of each business was that I had no idea how to hire and train people well.
As a result, with each of my businesses, I hit a ceiling and couldn’t get past it.
When I hit that ceiling — usually at between $1mm-$1.5mm/year of revenue — I would find myself working all the time to manage my team, tasks and priorities and find my creativity, energy and enjoyment of the business leach away.
Usually, at that point, I would find a way to sabotage the business and either turn over my whole team, shrink the business back, or throw up my hands altogether and walk away.
Then, sometime later, I would start again, rebuilding often from nearly scratch and get right back to the exact same place and find myself frustrated that I couldn’t seem to get past it.
I always wondered why I couldn’t seem to build multiple businesses, like Richard Branson does.
6 or 7 teams (at least), and four businesses later, I’ve figured out where I was going wrong and now I want to share it with you. And, also apologize to every past team member who worked on my team and left feeling disempowered and not seen for their greatness.
I can see now that I was stuck with a project management style of training that I thought was leadership, but was far from it. It was management. And I hated management. So did my team members, I am sure.
Now I can see that eyes wide open leadership is far different. And way better.
If you learn how to lead instead of manage your teams (unless you are a project manager, in which case you can instill leadership in your project management), you will be unstoppable and can become the kind of leader that have allowed business leaders like Richard Branson and Steve Jobs to build multiple companies and products that have made a huge impact in the world.
Or, you can work part-time and have a thriving company full of leaders while you provide a great service or product and love your life.
So what is the difference between the project management style of training your team and training your team as a leader?
Project management style of training is one in which you give your team member specific tasks that need to get done, and then specific instructions on how to do those tasks, and then monitor whether the tasks were done to their specifications.
And, if they are not done to your specifications, you get frustrated, and feel certain you have to take it all back and just do it yourself.
This is not leadership. It’s project management. And, done this way, you will consistently disempower the people you’ve hired, and get stuck in the role of babysitter, not leader.
Steve Jobs put it well when he said: “When you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. A-plus players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B-grade work.” – Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple
Unless you want to be your company’s project manager, micro-managing all the details and always feeling stuck in the weeds, here’s an alternative methodology for training your team members that will establish your leadership and get the results you want, right from the start.
Eyes Wide Open Outcome, Resources, Deadline and Check-Ins
When you are bringing on a new team member, instead of giving them specific tasks and specific ways to perform those tasks, and then holding them accountable to those tasks, give them outcomes, resources, deadlines and check-ins.
Here’s how that could look:
First, identify the specific outcome the company needs. For example, each month we run a monthly campaign promoting one of our online training programs.
Or, we need to send out an email newsletter to our clients each week. Or, we need to ensure that everyone who calls our office gets followed up with weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.
Second, give your team member the specific company resources available to them to meet this outcome.
So in our case, using the monthly campaign as an example, I would train my team member on the specific products we have to promote, and then let the team member know how we structure our campaigns, introduce the team member to our copywriter, our website manager, and our customer service representative.
And then I would tell the team member the specific objectives for the campaigns, for example — each month we want to enroll twenty people in the course.
Using the weekly article as an example, I would let the team member know where I’ve found or curated articles in the past. Or let the team member know to ask me for the article each week. And, I would give the team member a login to our website, as well as to the service we use to send out the newsletter.
I would also provide a document with standards for posting the weekly article and sending out the newsletter.
Third, give the new team member a deadline.
Let your new team member know specifically when he or she is expected to have this outcome completely handled without any input from you.
Then, let your team member get in to the resources and start doing it, while you are in parallel still doing it yourself until the deadline date for the team member to take it over completely.
So, for example, lets say that I hire the team member in May, I would still handle the May and June campaigns and then by July let’s say, I’d want the team member to be handling the campaign on his or her own.
Or, for something smaller like a weekly email newsletter, if I hired on May 1, I’d still handle the first two weeks of May’s email newsletters and expect the team member to take it over by the third week of May.
Finally, schedule periodic check-ins between the time that the outcome is given and the deadline date, so the team member can let you know what he or she is missing, needs or to show you the process he or she has discovered at the time of check-in and identify any missing parts.
This allows your new team member to get in there and just start figuring it out, and make some mistakes (which is a key tool of learning) while also having the support necessary to fill in any gaps in the training or resources.
Think about it this way: imagine you were trying to teach someone to tie their shoes. You could explain how to them for hours and hours how to tie their shoes, and even show them how to do it, but until they get their hands on the laces and start playing with the laces and making mistakes and then asking for specific help, they won’t learn to tie their shoes.
Now, one key to this working is that you have to hire people you trust can actually do the job you’ve hired them for, and ideally people who you know will do the job even better than you. This is one place I definitely got stuck. I didn’t properly vet people before I hired them, so that when they inevitably made mistakes, I began to question whether they could do the job well.
And then because I was in a project management style instead of a leadership style, instead of giving them the leeway and time to make mistakes (because I was still doing the thing until the deadline we had set while they were in the mistake making and learning process), I would jump in and take it over from them, further undermining their confidence and disempowering their ability to take over for me.
It was a vicious cycle in which no one was set up to win.
So make a shift today from the project management style of training your team members and into the eyes wide open leadership style of training your team members and watch your business expansion (and your own personal growth) become a real possibility.