Over the years, I've worked on a bunch of small businesses, both as a team member and as a consultant. Regardless of where I stood, I often witnessed how some business owners unknowingly frustrate their people (their employees, freelancers, and contractors.)
As a small business owner, it can be challenging to focus on team management & leadership skills when juggling multiple roles. If you're experiencing frustration with your team, consider reflecting on how you have been showing up with them. Here are eight habits you might have and will need to break if you want better support from your team:
1 - Rescheduling meetings
Every time you reschedule a meeting with your employee, contractor, and/or freelancer– especially if you do it regularly – you are essentially telling them that they don’t matter to you. If you want these people to do their best for you, honor your commitment to meet with them when you say you will.
2 - Being indecisive
One of the best ways to get the most from your team is to decide what you want ahead of time and commit to the plan. Every time you change your mind, it means wasted work, wasted time, and, in many cases, having to do things repeatedly. Not only does this frustrate your team, but it also means you are paying for work you no longer want or need.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not to say that you can never change your mind – we all do it sometimes. But when it’s from the place of not planning in advance, that will drain your team.
3 - Expecting them to read your mind
The key to successful team leadership is to master communication. Your role as a leader is to be clear in what you want from your team – whether a simple task or a big project. You must be clear in your request, the deliverable you want, and the deadline.
Expecting your team to “just keep up and figure it out” isn’t enough – especially if they are new to the team. - Kirstin Brenders
4 - Expecting them to work nights & weekends
You are welcome to work anytime you like, but don’t expect your team to keep the same hours. I know many creative entrepreneurs find that evenings and weekends are their most productive times – where we come up with great ideas – and in our enthusiasm, we often throw stuff at our team, expecting unrealistic turnarounds.
In other words, please don’t send your brilliant idea over on Saturday afternoon and ask them to have it done Monday by 9 a.m. If you are in the middle of an important project, then you want to plan ahead of time for people to put in extra time – that’s fine – but again, it needs to be the exception and not the norm.
One the best ways to bring ease back into your business is to stop using weekend to catch up. - Kirstin Brenders
5 - Micromanaging your team
If you have made a clear request, set your expectations on the deliverable, and have given them a deadline, then it’s time to let them do the job. You don’t need to know how they are doing at every step.
You don’t need to keep checking in with them all the time. A good cadence for checking in on progress is to follow up with them a couple of days after delegating to see if they have questions. And then checking in before the deadline.
6 - Not doing YOUR job so they can do theirs
There are times when your team needs something from you in order to do their job. Every time you are late on your part, it has a trickle-down effect that throws off the entire team, making everyone late.
If you are late for some reason – we all are from time to time – let them know that you will be late and adjust the timeline accordingly. If you were to get them something on Monday so that it could be ready for Wednesday, but you can’t get it to them until Wednesday now, then their timeline needs to change.
7 - Taking your stress out on them
We all have our moments. We all get stressed out from time to time as leaders. That doesn’t mean you get to take it out on your team members.
I’m honestly surprised by how often I hear stories of leaders snapping at or yelling at their team (even worse, when it’s in front of others). There is never a reason to yell at a team member – even if they screwed up.
If you are angry or frustrated, find a way to “vent” before you communicate. And if you have a grumpy moment with a team member, own it and apologize.
8 - Not allowing people to grow within your company
When team members feel valued, they will often stay for years.
Look for ways to give them an opportunity to grow with your business and try new things. Don’t try to keep great people in a role they no longer want or have outgrown simply because you want them there (they will quit at some point.) If you want a team that will stay with you long term, create a space where they get to grow.
I’m curious: Which of these things creeps in for you? If you feel a bit of guilt from one, acknowledge it. All you have to do is pick one and start doing something about it today. And I promise you’ll get more things done and be one step closer to leading a self-managed team.
Hey there- if we haven’t had a chance to meet yet, I’m Kirstin, a former corporate gal turned small business owner who helps female entrepreneurs design businesses and build teams without burnout. To learn how we can partner together, check my Services.
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