This week I was on a panel at Slush Down Under in Melbourne, discussing ways to attract talent to your start-up. We quickly moved on to the more interesting topic of when you actually start to look for people to fill the gaps you have in the business.
It often comes down to the same thing.
The temptation for many founders is to continue to do all the thinking themselves and stock up on people who can do the work. But I’ve seen time and time again, founders with dozens of direct reports who are fulfilling on orders rather than delivering outcomes.
This isn’t wrong, it’s normal. You’re the thinker, you know how you want things done and it is quicker to just tell somebody how to do it. At the beginning it probably is.
But soon people switch off their brain, knowing you’ll do it your way anyway, so why offer an idea. They become automatic, disenfranchised and less productive.
On top of that, you’ll have so many direct reports you won’t have time to tell them how to do everything and you’ll be begging them to think for themselves. Too late, Captain Apathy has settled in.
So how do you avoid this trap?
1. Stand for the higher purpose
Understand the real mission and share it, the emotional and esoteric reason for being. People don’t buy Apple iPhone’s because they’re better than anything else, we buy them because we believe in Apple’s mission, thinking differently. There are lots of articles and books about this and other brands with great values to help you figure out your higher purpose.
2. Evangelise your vision and what outcomes you’re trying to achieve
Paint a picture of what success looks like and what happens if you don’t achieve it. Help people see how they can help create that picture. Let them add a few dots of their own so that you can all own the outcomes.
3. Give people the opportunity to beg forgiveness
Specifically tell people that they have authority to decide and continue until the point where they’ve said sorry for the same thing a few times, because then you need a process. You’ll be surprised at how little this happens if your team know as much about the problem and the picture of success as you do.
4. Be truly receptive to the idea that your team may know more than you
Because that is why you hired them! But be sure that you arm them with the right knowledge, give them everything they need to understand the problems and offer as many tools as they need to find the solutions, from coaching and formal training to budget for software or the right work environment to inspire them.
5. Allow your team to impress you
You’re not there to impress them, they are already. You need to find ways to let them impress you every day and thank them for their awesomeness. They’ll feel useful, appreciated and pumped to be there.
Soon you’ll have people working together to define and solve problems you didn’t even know you had and they’ll be helping your company grow and be having fun doing it.