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Overcoming the challenges of managing larger teams

Successful business owners aren’t automatically great team managers however, as the business grows, the importance of managing teams grows along with it. And, regardless of how well the business is run otherwise, if a business owner can’t attract and retain top talent, it will be difficult to continue to grow in the long term, according to Andrew Laurie, entrepreneur, CEO and elite business coach.

Andrew Laurie said, “From the moment the first employee comes on board, managing the team becomes a new, important, and increasingly valuable task for business owners. As the business grows, owners will have more people to manage, more opportunity to elicit outstanding performances from the team, and also more possibilities for challenges to arise. The value of being able to overcome challenges effectively and create high-performing teams can’t be overstated.”

At a recent conference, attendees with large teams shared their learnings and tips for business owners who also manage large teams. The key lessons included:

1. Maintaining a strong culture is essential

Creating a strong culture from the beginning helps to ensure that all subsequent employees are exposed to that culture when they join the organisation. This helps set a precedent around expectations and behaviour, as well as performance. Some of the ways conference attendees achieved this included using online recognition platforms to call out great performances, providing overseas travel as a reward for outstanding work, weekly culture celebrations, and explicit culture-based training. One attendee wrote a book about the business including its history, purpose, and culture, to be given to all employees.

2. Focusing on the basics means nothing falls through the cracks

Simple management techniques like weekly team meetings, one-on-one meetings with employees, and providing consistent feedback and recognition are essential regardless of the size of the business. It’s important to focus on these basics even as the team grows. In some cases, it may be necessary to find new ways of maintaining these practices, such as using online communication tools to bring disparate teams together. This helps keep all employees engaged and feeling connected to the organisation’s purpose.

3. Training new managers effectively is crucial

At some point in the growth of a business, it will become clear that training needs to move beyond a focus on functional skills and personal development. As teams grow, managers and owners alike need to reach a new level of competence. This is because the standard of management required for large teams is higher due to increased complexities and risk inherent in larger teams. And, as more layers of management are introduced, it’s important for all managers to be suitably capable of executing their role.

Specifically, analytical rigour becomes important as teams grow so that managers can diagnose team performance across a large team, analyse it in detail, and plan accordingly. This approach helps managers get the best performance from their teams regardless of size.

4. Systems and specificity help maintain quality

As business owners become more removed from the daily operations of the business, entrusting its performance to managers, it’s essential to have systems and processes in place to maintain consistency and control. The larger the team, the more important this becomes. Furthermore, it’s essential for managers to be absolutely clear and specific when communicating with teams to ensure there is no room for miscommunication or mistakes.

This extends to internal training, which is an integral aspect of ongoing high performance. Systematic and high-quality training programs need to be developed and formalised to ensure adherence.

Andrew Laurie said, “Having a large team is a sign of business success. However, it can present an enormous challenge and can even be the downfall of a business if that team isn’t managed properly. Taking these factors into consideration can help business owners improve their approach to managing a large team. And, if people-management isn’t the business owner’s strong suit, they should consider hiring an experienced HR manager to help make sure this part of the business runs smoothly.”

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Loren Webb

Loren Webb

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