Are you a Chronically Invasive Manager?

The dream of every entrepreneur is for their start-up to run like a fully formed company. Instead of being a fledgling company founder struggling to get investments, you become the CEO, managing a large group of employees, not just a few brilliant minds.

According to Randy Komisar, lecturer on entrepreneurship at Stanford University and partner at a venture capital firm, the most difficult task in the life of an entrepreneur is to manage a team effectively. “One of the hardest things for entrepreneurs to learn is that most of the time, the best thing they can do is get out of the way of the people actually doing the work,” he says.

Managing tech startups for example, is becoming more of an ‘operating function’, which can be compared to ‘Finance and Sales’, which are set up to serve the employees who are doing the technically and creatively skilled work. “You’ve heard of software as a service? This is management as a service,” says Komisar. “Managers serve the people doing the work. And nobody is more important in an organization than the people doing the work.”

To serve your team better, you need to help resolve issues affecting their workflow. Here are some tips on how you can be a minimally invasive manager:

  1. Stop being cheap and employ the best. In building an excellent team, you need to hire the best. “If you hire badly, you’ll spend most of your time as a manager dealing with personnel issues and you will find that 75 percent of your time is dealing with problems” says Komisar. However, most entrepreneurs hire poorly skilled people with little or no qualification for an ‘expert’ job position in order to cut costs. They often forget the far-reaching consequences of this misadventure. Employing the best means you can invest more time on issues like strategy, innovation, and goal-setting. The first step to a minimally invasive management style, is to find people who do not need a boss to make them work. Employ skilled people who can work hard with less supervision and are passionate about their job.

  2. Be keen on serving the people on your team. When you’ve hired the best team, it’s time to help develop and serve them. Give people clear priorities and communicate transparently about what’s going on in the organization, why and the role each employee would play. “It’s about taking individuals and making them 10 percent or 20 percent or 50 percent better than they ever thought they could be” Komisar writes.

  3. Kick out the rotten eggs. Keeping a bad employee will negatively affect the entire team. As your business evolves, so will jobs and roles and not all of your employees will keep up. “There are high costs to getting rid of a B player if they have the competence to be a B+ or even an A player. But if they don’t, you need to resolve that quickly,” said Komisar. “Organizations regress to the mean. If you have a bunch of B players that are not advancing, your organization will start to regress to their level” he continues.

With these points in mind, the manager must also lead by example at all times as the best team in the world cannot make up for bad leadership.

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