Entrepreneurs are driven by passion: that for building and leading a team and taking a new business to newer heights. No true entrepreneur wants to lead a team based on mediocrity and moderation. This is because such a team would be a reflection on nothing but the leadership. Having said this, it requires much persistence and constant personal and professional development to make and lead that perfect team.
When I became an entrepreneur, I focused on what I then thought was the most critical aspect of a business: finding the need gap in the market, devising a solution for the gap, and then recognizing the customer base. Once these aspects are identified, one can say, the business is on! Few years into the business, I realized that the top line was growing, but the bottom line was taking a hit, not to mention customer complaints and employee attrition. That was when it dawned on me that the time had come for the next level of personal learning, which was very valuable, although it came after many trials and tribulations. I understood that two things were critical to managing teams of any size: Monitoring and Motivation.
Life before becoming an entrepreneur was all about being used to working alone and self-management. This meant making plans and executing them quickly, and if required, making all the course corrections efficiently, saving time and effort. In business, once I formed a team, I realized that working alone and working in coordination with a team were two totally different things. The major difference being that when one is working as a team, it is extremely important to follow up after the initial set of instructions are given.
The fundamental advantages that regular and efficient monitoring bring about are many. For example, with monitoring, a founder can quickly discover any challenge that the team may be facing in understanding or implementing a task. They also are able to figure out whether the right person has been delegated for the right task. Finally, monitoring brings about a basic work culture and discipline in the team, sets the right expectations, and also brings transparency in outcomes.
Depending on hierarchy, monitoring can be in hours or maximum one week, but never more than that. This is because after this period, the work tempo is completely lost. For example, in most sales contact centres, the monitoring is done with the help of live screens displaying incoming and outgoing calls and calling effort reports are seen every hour. In the case of other departments, weekly reviews are scheduled on pre-designed data reporting formats. Apart from this, surprise audits are conducted to see the outliers.
In an intensively monitored environment, the team may take time to adjust to the high pace work culture. Along with this, in majority of the cases, supervisors need a lot of training and mentoring on how to manage the juniors or reportees under them. However unacceptable, it is a fact that yelling, intimidation, or humiliating the juniors / reportees in front of the peers or publically by the senior staff is prevalent in many companies. Such a work culture can prove to be very de-motivating for juniors and they tend to feel alienated. This then shows up as poor performance and very high levels of stress in the work environment. The end result as we all know is poor revenues and very low overall company performance.
Motivation is not only about providing incentives or bonus. These, in my opinion, after a point seem more like bribing used by a lazy top management rather than a genuine appreciation of the performer. Real motivation comes from some good company practices like having people development programmes, motivational sessions using audio and videos of top speakers, etc. Other examples include the following
Applauding innovation and creativity in a structured fashion
Setting up Mentor–Mentee programmes within the company. This will enable those capable in assisting in the development of others. This will also build a culture of learning and growing with the company values.
Last but not the least, a very transparent performance matrix, which is more objective (driven by measurable numbers) rather than subjective (people's perceptions) can help build a high performance company.