Entrepreneurs are famous for having our collective visionary heads at 50,000 feet and thinking that everyone around us is operating at the same altitude, when in fact, they are looking for the ground-level strategy that will get the business from vision to revenue. And even though you don't realize it, your vision is unclear to everyone but you. Take note of the glazed look in their eyes when you're talking a mile a minute and assuming everyone is following along.
Where we are visionaries, we often lack people management skills. Not leadership ability, charisma, or confidence, but rather the day-to-day grind of instituting processes that allow our team to translate vision into reality.
So before you point the finger when things aren't proceeding as you expected, a self-assessment may be in order.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Did you engage your team in too many ideas so they left with no tangible action items?
- Did you fail to communicate a concrete deliverable ( i.e. left too much room for interpretation)?
- Did you assign the project to more than one person so no one was sure who was responsible for what?
- Did you forget to give a due date so completion became a moving target?
- Did you assume the person you gave the job to had the skill set to accomplish it?
A rear-view assessment of my management style tells me I have been guilty of all of the above, and it cost me my start-up. Seasoned by ten years, I was finally able to piece together a project management process that can help everyone work together effectively to build a solid business foundation.
- Identify the components involved and the skill set(s) needed to accomplish it.
- Divide and assign the project according to required skill sets.
- Establish a clear due date with milestones so it's easy to track progress and make sure that the project is kept on schedule--build in a little extra time for issues and variables.
- Communicate your expectations for processes and outcomes.
- Verify that every member of the team understands your expectations and their responsibilities.
- Encourage feedback, collaboration and open communication on an agreed communications platform.
This process is as important to everyone on your team as it is to you, since now all of you can move forward with a cohesive objective and plan. Be open to changing your strategy if things don't work out as you expected and listen to what others have to say, even if you decide not to act on it. Set the expectations, hold them to a high standard and lead by example.
Joan Beeson-Healy's first love is the well-written word with her roots deep in copywriting. Even with her more recent incarnation as a marketing executive, she still gets a thrill from a beautifully crafted headline. Her work has appeared in pubs like Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CIO, Fast Company, Wired, PCWEEK, Cooking Lite, Yoga and some really obscure tech pubs. After over two decades working with emerging technology, media and nonprofits, first as a copywriter then morphing into marketing roles along the way, Joan decided to test the entrepreneurial waters and launched giveBeauty in 2003. She still gets excited about entrepreneurs, new technology, great creative and a beautiful font. She has worked with/for IDG, McGraw Hill, Epsilon, EarthWeb, Oz, Lotus, Corporate Software Technologies, Litle & Co, AARP, Smithsonian and OSF Global Services, both in-house and on the agency side. Joan is currently Managing Director at multiMind media, www.multimindmedia.