What’s your job as a manager?

It’s about vision.

It’s about being a generalist in those technical things you used to spend all your time in and becoming a specialist in running a business.

But ultimately your job is to develop people. They are the real assets in your business. Without the awesome people surrounding you the computers wouldn’t be of much use.

It’s the minds that drive the fingers that you need to invest in.

You need to help them find their best selves.

How good could they be?

Begin with something basic: Do your team members have the tools they need to do their best work?

Do you have a junior developer who’s stuck with a 6-year-old laptop, having to prove himself before he gets the good stuff?

It’s going to be hard for developers to prove themselves as ‘productive’ and ‘efficient’ on some old beast of a machine isn’t it?

Are you handicapping your employees by withholding the right tools they need to do their jobs?

Years ago I worked as a web developer at a retailer. Management was consistently making me justify every second that it took to ‘run the site’.

I was stuck using Windows ’95 on some old beast of a machine that took 20 minutes to turn on.

Oh, and it rebooted twice a day.

That means I spent an hour a day simply starting the computer so I could…spend another 10 minutes starting a pirated copy of Photoshop.

Of course editing a photo (out of a dSLR that was new because the owner liked photography) meant a 10-minute endeavor per photo. This same work took a mere 2 minutes on my home computer which was less than 12 months old.

How on earth was I ever expected to increase my productivity or efficiency when all my tools set me up for failure?

What are their ‘issues’ outside of the office?

In helping your employees become their best selves, remember they aren’t one-dimensional. Your team members’ lives are made up of a lot more than what happens at your office each day.

Are you keeping track of the family stuff going on with your staff?

Do you have an employee whose spouse is battling a long-term health issue?

Do you have an employee who is a single parent?

Do you have an employee experiencing financial struggles?

If you have employees struggling outside the office, are you stepping in to make sure that they can perform and be their best self at home and at work?

Some of you may think that ‘home stays at home’ but that’s totally a lie. We are each one person and stress at home will affect our job performance.

What can you do to make sure that your team is healthy at home?

The Dave Ramsey organization gives workers going through divorce a 6-month ‘grace period’ where lackluster job performance is acceptable. It’s not approved of, but divorce is one of the most traumatic experiences in life so they acknowledge that and extend grace.

Are you extending grace?

Go talk with them

The first step in really helping your team is to spend time with them.

Go out with them when they hit the pub sometimes.

Take a few of them out for lunch (but make sure it’s not always the same 2 people or you’re likely to deal with resentment from the rest of the team), and just talk about whatever.

Take your team away for the weekend and go on a hike. Do some team building exercises to create shared experience.

My friend Shawn, owner of Forge and Smith, does team lunch at the office daily. They all hang out and eat together to build shared experience. You can’t do that with a remote team, but you can have regular in person get-togethers to share some experience.

Remember as you transition from a freelancer to having a small team, you’re going to need to shift your focus. Your job is to help your team members become the best selves they can be.

Helping them achieve that will help you achieve business success.

photo credit: boedker cc