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How to manage when you haven't managed before


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Written particularly for young founders who haven't been managers before (and who may never have had a manager before!) to better understand how to manage their fast growing team.

It covers setting expectations, performance management and training.

EF works with technologists to help them find co-founders, develop ideas and to get funding. Join us

How to manage when you haven't managed before

  1. 1. How to manage when you’ve never managed before. @efLDN @alicebentinck co-founder EF
  2. 2. Startups are only as strong as their team. As they are so small, every person makes a difference. This can be a good difference or a bad one.
  3. 3. Startups are keen to talk about culture, but no-one talks about management. If you care about culture, you should care about management. Your management style will impact your culture.
  4. 4. Poor team management leads to higher costs (hiring costs, time sink, loss of knowledge and contacts) and lower productivity and happiness.
  5. 5. We find that first-time founders often struggle with understanding how much, or how little to manage. We want to help you get better.
  6. 6. If you are a founder, you are a manager. This means you have to manage. The team’s productivity and effectiveness is your responsibility.
  7. 7. Your investors, advisors and board will support you. Your responsibility is to support the rest of the team.
  8. 8. What is management?
  9. 9. “No one was born a great manager. Management is a learned skill. Nobody is a natural at it, it’s an unnatural job. It’s not natural, but as a manager that’s what you have to do. You have to evaluate everyone’s performance you have to correct them, you have to make sure they’re on task. You have have to learn how to do that so everyone doesn’t hate you all of the time.” Ben Horowitz Minute 24 of this video
  10. 10. “Before you were a manager, your number one job was to accomplish tasks. Now, your number one job is to help other people accomplish those tasks in an outstanding way.” Penelope Trunk
  11. 11. “Studies consistently show that the most important factor in employee happiness is the relationship the employee has with his immediate manager. This gives every company, even those with weak “brands,” a chance to attract great people, as long as you offer the promise of career transformation.” Reid Hoffman - Read here
  12. 12. From an employee perspective, good management is knowing: §  what you` need to do to succeed §  why you have to do it §  what good and bad looks like and understanding how to improve §  what they get out of it
  13. 13. As a founder, you should: 1.  have teams that know what their daily, weekly and long term goals are 2.  train your teams to get better at their jobs 3.  monitor your team’s performance and to give them regular feedback 4.  be honest about weak points in the team
  14. 14. 1a. Teams that know what their daily goals are “Good product managers crisply define the target, the "what" (as opposed to the how) and manage the delivery of the "what.”   Good product managers err on the side of clarity vs. explaining the obvious. Bad product managers never explain the obvious.”  Ben Horowitz  
  15. 15. “Managers must hold lightly to goals, but strongly to intentions” Ed Catmull, Pixar 1b. Teams that know what their weekly goals are
  16. 16. “In good organizations, people can focus on their work and have confidence that if they get their work done, good things will happen for both the company and them personally. With bad managers, they are not even clear on what their jobs are, so there is no way to know if they are getting the job done or not.” Ben Horowitz 1c. Teams that know what their long term goals are
  17. 17. 1. Tools §  Daily checkin – 10 minutes every morning to clarify priorities §  Weekly checkins that outline mid term goals §  Team problem solving sessions and team involvement in some strategic decision making §  1-2-1 coffees to discuss how their career trajectory fits into your startup’s long term goals
  18. 18. “Employees who are immature in a given task require detailed training and instruction. They need to be micromanaged. So, micromanagement is like fine wine. A little at the right times will really enhance things; too much all the time and you’ll end up in rehab.” Ben Horowitz - Read more here 2. Train your teams to get better at their jobs
  19. 19. When people start a new role “they are looking to develop. But, once they’ve learned the basics, they stop trying to improve, maybe it seems like too much trouble, or they may not see where the improvement will take them.” Dr Carol Dweck, Mindset 2. Train your teams to get better at their jobs
  20. 20. ‘If you don't train your people, you establish no basis for performance management.' Ben Horowitz 2. Train your teams to get better at their jobs
  21. 21. “Many organisations believe in natural talent, and don’t look for people with the potential to develop” Morgan McCall 2. Train your teams to get better at their jobs
  22. 22. 2. Tools §  Carve out training time with your team to help them individually, or collectively, with specific areas, or if you don’t have the expertise connect them to someone in your network. §  Help your team to find their own mentors, in-house or externally. Use your network and your investors’ networks to make this happen. §  Make sure you role model the behaviour you want to see. §  See one, do one, teach one. Use an apprenticeship model to help get new team members up to speed and to breed a training culture. §  Read Mindset by Carol Dweck to understand how to create a learning culture with your organisation
  23. 23. 3. Monitor your team’s performance and give them regular feedback §  Have regular, expected feedback time in the diary so that everyone can prepare for it – don’t push it back, your team will take this seriously and so should you §  Make sure you know what you are measuring and what you value (in terms of their performance) §  Your team should know what ‘not good enough’, ‘good’ and ‘exceptional’ looks like – and you must hold yourself to the same standards §  You should give both on the fly feedback and structured feedback - provide public praise and private criticism §  Ensure that feedback works both ways so you can also get better
  24. 24. 3. Tools + 360 feedback: Use an online tool to gather anonymous feedback on a set of criteria. Use this to gather feedback on yourself, as well as the team. + 1-2-1 feedback sessions: These can take 1-2 hours and should be done at least once a quarter. These should have a set structure, that allows both people to give feedback, both positive and constructive. + Performance evaluations: Set out clearly what good vs exceptional performance looks like and help team members understand where they are on the grid and what they need to do to get to the next stage. + Evaluate against clear, measurable goals: Use tools like KPIs to set targets for the team and for individuals. + Do you understand why they aren’t performing? Read Susan Scott’s Fierce Conversations (n.b. it might not be them, it might be you…).
  25. 25. 4. Be honest about weak points in the team Weak points in the team bring down the whole team’s performance and will affect your startup’s productivity. §  The Keeper Test If my employee told me they were leaving, how hard would I work to keep them? If not very hard, then you should let them go. §  Honesty always As a manager no-one in your group should be materially surprised of your views. This is what feedback and performance evaluation is for. §  Fire fast, but honestly Those who don’t fit into the team should leave asap, but be honest about why they are leaving. Is it their fault or yours?
  26. 26. Some examples from the EF team* *We’re a small (8 people) fast-growing team
  27. 27. 1. To have teams that know what their daily, weekly and long term goals are Every couple of months, we have an away day out of the office (usually in someone’s flat) where we set the mid term strategy as a team. It’s lead by whichever team will lead the implementation and the whole team is expected to contribute. Each quarter we set KPIs. Every week, each workstream has a checkin with the EF founders for an hour. This is at the same time every week and is a mixture of strategy and tactical discussions. The team is highly autonomous, but in times of high pressure, we do a morning checkin at 9.30 with the whole team running briefly through their priorities for the day.
  28. 28. 2. Train your teams to get better at their jobs Every member of the team has a training budget and a book budget to spend at their discretion. We do group training sessions for the team based on areas that they all want to improve on e.g., public speaking. We put these sessions in the calendar weeks in advance and rigidly stick to them (otherwise it becomes de-prioritised). We use an apprenticeship model to help the team learn. This means we get the team to join meetings and sit in discussions that we expect them to take over in the future (see one, do one, teach one). Discussing post-hoc why we did certain things and letting them take the lead at certain points allows for instant feedback and discussion.
  29. 29. 3. Monitor your team’s performance and to give them regular feedback We do reviews every three months. We use alternately 360 feedback from across the team (set against certain criteria), and a performance evaluation grid that clearly shows what good looks like vs exceptional. We give on the fly feedback, post positive and constructive. Positive feedback is given in front of the team, with a slack channel dedicated to ‘team-praise’ for when the team is working remotely. We encourage upward feedback to help us improve and specifically ask for this during review sessions.
  30. 30. 4. Be honest about weak points in the team We try to hire fast and fire fast, but this is always easier said than done. In particular, we try to be honest as a team as to whether we are moving someone on because they aren’t good enough, or because the team didn’t do a good enough job of bringing them into the team and helping them understand their short term and long term goals.
  31. 31. How to manage when you’ve never managed before. @efLDN @alicebentinck co-founder EF