Whether you have one employee or a team of one hundred, you need to lead. There is a subtlety in calling yourself a ‘leader’ rather than a ‘boss’ - leading comes with a responsibility to your team and the need to inspire, rather than ‘bossing’ them around.
So first off, think of yourself as a leader at all times, and then work on ensuring that you have these skills under your belt, as we share our 7 steps to leading effectively.
Ensure effective training is provided
Ideally, you will be able to train your staff. You need not do this personally, it really depends on the size of the operation that you are running, but you must have input into it. You need to think about the skills and knowledge that your team needs to be equipped with and then put plans into place to deliver them through effective training.
For newcomers, they must feel that no question is a bad question, so encourage them to check in on everything that is new to them.
You will be surprised how much jargon you use in your industry that might just go over their heads, so do ensure that all technical abbreviations and language are understood, from ARP or LTV and any buzz words or practices that are specific to your company.
Nothing will alienate a newcomer faster than not understanding the things that are taking place around them, so help them to feel comfortable and reassure them that all of their training is in place.
Leaders need to coach
You are going to need to develop your coaching skills as this area is absolutely key to leading. Leaders need to be on hand to support, develop and praise staff.
Coaching differs from training, in that the latter equips employees with the basic new knowledge, whereas coaching develops and hones the skills taught. Coaching fine tunes and helps your team member to become the best that they can be in that particular field.
Coaching works well if you have developed a friendly relationship, you have defined the areas you will be working on together and then you remain supportive and positive throughout any coaching sessions. Feedback should be specific and actionable.
Leaders who can coach effectively will garner appreciation and respect from their team.
Create a pleasant working environment
You want people to enjoy coming to work, to spending time in your team and office. As such, you will want to create a pleasant working environment for everybody.
Look around and ensure that you are doing all that you can to improve wellbeing in your business, whether it be by brightening your office, offering fresh fruit and drinks machines throughout the day or ensuring that workspaces are ergonomically designed.
As a leader, you will want to anticipate and address all issues around your team’s comfort.
You will also need to adopt an open door policy or a forum for making suggestions so that your team can bring any ideas for improving their workspace straight to you.
Involve your team wherever you possibly can, through open communication. Hold regular reviews on both a one to one basis and as a whole team. Everybody should feel that they have a say and that they have your ear.
You will want to share your business goals and vision with everyone, and trust in them to help you to deliver them. There are not echelons involved here, where people sit on a ‘need to know’ basis only. You will find that it makes more sense to share the full picture with everyone and then you can effectively reward and hold people accountable to that full picture.
Recognise and motivate
You will want to motivate your team to perform well consistently. This makes them far more productive and it makes your life significantly easier.
As you have communicated clearly your expectations and everyone is on the same page, you can now look to recognise anyone who performs well to these standards. Recognition in itself is hugely motivating, and should never be undervalued. A quiet ‘thanks’ for a job well done can make all the difference in someone’s day.
You will know when your team are pulling together after a tough week, so thank them, reward them. Getting the coffees and cakes in after a hard month is telling them all how much they are appreciated and that you recognise how well they have all performed.
Add in fun incentives to reach certain targets, make games out of tasks and lighten the load wherever you can.
You must do this to lead effectively. You must address underperformance issues and do so directly with the individual involved in a private setting. They deserve the opportunity to talk it over with you and they need your support in putting plans into place to improve.
You cannot be seen to let things slide or to allow one person to be carried as this can be demotivating to those who are delivering for you. We are not suggesting that people cannot have off days, we are referring to ongoing performance issues here.
If someone consistently fails to meet expectations, you do need to address this effectively with them, in fairness to both them and your wider team.
Work with them
A leader working alongside their team is truly leading from the frontlines. Get in there and carry out tasks that you expect your team to do to demonstrate that you would only ask of them things you would do yourself, and that you are skilled enough to carry them out.
Where is it possible to do so, work within the midst of your team so that you are aware of the challenges that they face daily, and you are aware of how they all perform. This will offer you a greater insight into your business and it should also make you more approachable.
You always want your staff to feel comfortable coming to you with any issues or ideas.