As many of you know, we’ve recently been hiring and are now are a 3 person company. That’s a great thing for us (if slightly a strain on our cashflow at the moment); but the real change has been in me having to relearn management. It has been quite a few years since I had to manage anyone other than myself and relearning best practices has been a journey for me.
There’s a few stumbling blocks I’ve had / have and I thought I’d articulate them here as a reminder to myself:
Perhaps my biggest frustration at the moment; and one that I keep forgetting. I hand-out projects to the employees; and while I get updates, I’ve been forgetting to ask for timelines and deadlines. Now, in the course of our business, we receive a number of set-backs and delays (a rush of orders, delays in getting products in which force us to have multiple receiving days, etc.); but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t at least have deadlines clearly articulated and pushed back (if necessary).
My biggest stumbling block here; and frustration is that I often intuitively have a deadline in mind for a project when I start it (or assign it). I rarely articulate it (after all, who am I articulating to other than myself?); but it’s there. Unfortunately, not articulating to employees doesn’t exactly work – and then having a project not completed to an unarticulated deadline just causes frustration. Mostly with myself; but to a small extent the employee. Which is obviously not fair to them.
Tasks & Documentation
Another major area that I have a problem with currently is actually documenting the variety of tasks that I do on a daily basis; and that the company does. It might seem strange needing to document things as simple as ‘Approve Reviews daily’ or ‘Transfer PayPal funds’ but if you don’t; and for some reason I can’t do it (like a holiday); it doesn’t get done. As I try to shift more mundane tasks like that away from myself to the employees; forgetting to tell them about minor tasks like that becomes a major problem that can fall through the cracks.
Of course, that’s when I do want to let go. Much of the delegating right now is to move ‘easier’ tasks away from me so I can tackle more complex tasks. However, at the same time I need to learn to delegate even the more complex tasks and that’s tough. Part of that is of course the old maxim – You can delegate authority but not responsibility. It’s my company, so I still feel responsible for even the smallest tasks. It’s a tough thing, learning to let go.
Lastly there’s training. Adding new tasks requires training, adding new projects often requires training (sometimes in simple things like project management). Then there’s the entire realm of online sales and the complexity that is running such a site – everything from using FTP programs to uploading new modules to payment gateways. All that at some point will need to be taught, to create redundancy in the company. Unfortunately, I’m not necessarily the best teacher – sometimes because I’m still learning the subject matter; at other times because of my lack of patience.