A startup is a delicate thing to manage, because every single action can have major long-term consequences. Your profit margins, your branding, your business partnerships: fail to think something through and it’ll become a weight dragging you down. Nowhere is this more apparent than in your recruitment —after all, the team you build will define the future of your company.
But while finding the best possible candidates is mission-critical, your work only begins when you’ve filled all your required positions, because the onus is on you to make good use of those ingredients rich in potential. A poorly-managed team is less than the sum of its parts, with individual members becoming frustrated and disillusioned.
To avoid this, you need to step up as a team manager, setting an example for work ethic and guiding your employees to fulfil their potential — and key to this is taking advantage of the many team management tools and resources available online. Let’s take a look at 7 worth trying:
Yes, we’re starting with the one tool that every sensible startup uses as the bedrock of its team’s daily workload. It’s obvious, but that’s because it’s so compelling: the Google Docs suite is free (to a point), versatile, easy to use, and backed by exceptional support.
Whether you want to create spreadsheets, collaborate on documents, or create slideshows, you can manage it under Google’s formidable umbrella. Get everyone working through it and you’ll achieve the level of visibility that you need to manage effectively — you could pay extra for a more expensive service, but it likely wouldn’t be justified.
It’s great for your team to have a collaborative spirit, but all that enthusiasm can easily go to waste if it isn’t paid off through group projects, and that can be a practical issue in this age of remote working. Startups need to be open-minded about hiring, after all, and sourcing candidates from farther afield can give you the edge.
Sketchboard makes it vastly easier to replicate the classic office whiteboard experience, no matter where your employees are, making the prospect of managing a remote working team considerably less daunting. Through the numerous functions included, you can turn your casual ideation into something you can practically implement.
Ask a Manager
Is there such a thing as a perfect manager? Definitely not. There’s far too much nuance and subjectivity in management, even in fairly simple situations, and it’s made abundantly clear through this excellent blog which delves into the often-awkward dynamics of office life.
Ask a Manager is essentially what you’d think (questions answered by a manager), and it gives some great insight into the thought process of someone who’s spent many years managing teams. It also highlights some of the most common issues that can cause employees to become dissatisfied, and this can be highly valuable for startups that need high employee retention.
Performance tracking is key to running a team effectively, because you can’t dish out suitable praise (or provide warranted support) if you don’t know which employees are excelling and which are struggling. You also can’t allocate resources optimally — with limited funds to go towards training courses, for instance, they need to be handled carefully.
Hubstaff offers a very broad software solution: you can track the time your employees are spending on tasks, where they are (within reason — it can be necessary with a highly mobile team), what their schedules involve, and even how active they are. You can enable or disable the features whenever needed, so reliable employees can be given more slack.
Shopify Founder Stories
A huge part of being an effective team manager is understanding how people work. What motivates them? What are they hoping to achieve? And though it’s all built around users of Shopify’s store system, the Founder Stories section of the Shopify blog contains advice valuable to every type of business owner and/or team leader.
Through learning about the journeys taken by successful entrepreneurs, you can learn how to move past failure, set goals, communicate better, take calculated risks, and overcome common business challenges. So many people have already been down the path you’re taking, so what sense is there in trying to navigate solo?
The HR Leaders Podcast
HR is often underrated, thoughtlessly written off as wasting time on bureaucracy and empty legalities, but it’s a core part of every great business. Your employees are your greatest assets. If you don’t take care of them, they won’t be motivated to develop and become more valuable for your business — and if you take them for granted, they won’t stick around.
Since the HR Leaders Podcast brings together experts from the HR industry to discuss everything from encouraging task ownership in employees to creating exceptional workplace cohesion, it’s a worthwhile listen for anyone trying to learn the ropes. Additionally, given that startups are typically pushed for time, the podcast format is ideal for soaking up useful information while handling other tasks.
The allocation of work can be tricky when you don’t have everyone in one location. General visibility is essential (it can be disastrous for an assigned task to be left incomplete because the person responsible fell ill and no one else had the details of their workload), but you also need to ensure that employees are helped to concentrate on their personal tasks.
Asana is a top project management tool with a comprehensive feature set broadened further by plenty of integrations. There are plenty of alternatives available (though not as feature-rich), but it notably has a free version that can be used by up to 15 people. This makes it perfect for a startup environment — and if the team grows past that point, the budget should be there to cover the per-user premium monthly price.If you’re navigating the choppy waters of the startup world and trying to build a fantastic team, these 7 team management tools and resources have a lot to offer you. Learn what you can, update your methods, and you should have a much easier time.
|Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups, a site dedicated to supporting startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for entrepreneurial tips, and follow along on Twitter @getmicrostarted.|
Sketchboard is an online whiteboard for teammates to draw diagrams together collaboratively. Test it out.