At a loss about being a boss? Part 1 of 4 : Get the boring stuff right
What to do when you find yourself leading a team, having never managed a single person.
It might seem crazy but we see a lot of start-ups and small businesses being headed up by people who have no, or very little, experience of managing people. They may be the best entrepreneurs, big thinkers, have bags of enthusiasm, driven beyond belief, a great idea... but now they need to lead people to make the business a success.
I may be daunting. You might even feel a bit embarrassed about your lack of experience (or over confident in your own ability). However, loads of management experience and being a great leader don’t necessarily come hand in hand.
This four-part guide will provide you some advice so you can fake it till you make it.
Get the boring stuff right
Think about a great leader. Think about how you would describe them. It’s doubtful you’re thinking they’re good at paperwork and hyper organised. When people describe great leaders, they don’t talk about the fact that they sent them their contract before they turned up on day one or that they always approved their holiday quickly (without needing to be sent 50 chaser emails). But, what we know is when people complain about their experience of leaders, this is stuff that always comes up, so make your life easy and get it right.
We understand. You’re trying to get your business up and running. You’re focussing on sales. You’ve got a great business idea you want to get on and make it successful. You haven’t got time to worry about whether you have decent contracts, HR policies or even an HR system to take care of the admin. In fact, you have probably decided that the type of people who are right for your business won’t care about that stuff, they just want to be part of something great.
Well… When it comes to the founding team, you might even be right. Initially. We are 100% certain that whether you spend time getting this right early on will determine not only the happiness of your team, but also the amount of time you will spend on people administration in the future.
1. Getting your employment contracts right
If you need intellectual property clauses or restrictive covenants, get them in from day one. It’s much easier than trying to retro-fit them in later.
2. Create your HR policies and employee handbook
It might feel overkill right now, but when you’ve been asked a hundred times what someone needs to do if they are sick, you will wish you could just say “its in the employee handbook”.
3. Get an HR system
There are loads of low cost options out there, we like BreatheHR so much we offer it for free to our clients who use us regularly. As a minimum look for one that handles your holiday approvals, it’ll save you a lot of time and spreadsheets.
4. Appoint an HR ‘guru’
Okay, so they may not be a guru but decide who in your business is going to be responsible for HR. Even if you only have one employee you will encounter HR issues, so simplify things by identifying your in house HR person early on. If your in-house person needs some HR training or you need specialist HR support we can help on-site or remotely, either for ad-hoc needs or an ongoing basis - get in touch if you’d like to find out more.
Get the boring stuff right and you’ll be ready to take your next step into leadership. Take a look at the next instalment of this four-part guide, Part Two: Be Yourself.
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Working with like-minded businesses, we help you attract and retain the best people. Our goal is to work in partnership with you, to create great places to work, whilst ensuring you're compliant with your legal obligations.
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