When you begin to scale your agency beyond yourself, you’re likely considering hiring a team. A team means multiple moving parts within your business. This also means as you begin to scale, you’ll run into problems when managing a team.
I already nerd out about systems and processes, automation, workflows, and operations for an agency, but those are all tools created to help agencies run more automatically and systemized. Teams, on the other hand, are a unique part of running an agency. Managing them, is a different game because you’re working with different personalities, backgrounds, and cultures.
Many of the clients I’ve worked with have scaled their agencies from themselves or a small team, to bringing on multiple hires at one time to take care of business operations. What happens is there are common problems that arise when you’re now in charge of managing the team. There are the 3 most common problems I see when managing a team and the easiest ways to solve them.
Bottlenecks and Barriers to Managing a Team
An easy problem to spot are bottlenecks and barriers, and issues that aren’t solved in a timely manner. For example, this can be tools not functioning as they should, lack of training on certain tools and systems, or a large bottleneck in the workflow that stops work.
Because teams are already multiple moving parts in one machine, additional bottlenecks and barriers caused by systems can cause major setbacks in efficient work, resulting in a loss in revenue and profits.
Take the time to train your team on tools and systems your agency uses. Have them go through online courses to help break-through certain challenges. Take an Agency Audit to unveil any systematic bottlenecks in your workflow and how you can automate more processes, making the work flow more efficiently for your team.
You can implement this in your team management immediately, simply:
- Include specific tools training in the onboarding process for new hires
- Create a vault of online courses for team members to access, teaching them new skills or how to use a certain tool
- Sit down and go through an Agency Audit to see how automated your agency is and where you can improve
Lack of Communication
One of the biggest problems, if not THE biggest and most common problem when managing a team is lack of communication.
I see this time and time again, when there aren’t clear systems in place for communication between management and their team, or within team members themselves. When there is lack of communication, this gives space to assumptions, “unsafe” spaces for honest feedback, and drama.
Assumptions are the killers of all team collaboration. They lead to inefficient work, frustrations built up, and unnecessary drama. As the manager of a team, it’s important to create a safe space for follow up or transparency. If you’re unable to create this space from the beginning, this harbors a lot of animosity between team members and management or between the team itself which could mean feelings of fear, afraid of disappointment, people pleasing, etc.
The best way to combat this problem is scheduling regular monthly follow up and check-ins with your team, either as a group or individually. In these meetings you can review…
- What’s working
- What’s not working
- How can you (as the CEO/leader) improve personally and as a leader
- A space for you to have empathy and validate their ideas
This opens the pathways for better communication and creates a safespace for your team to feel like they can share their ideas without backlash, it squashes any assumptions, and helps with transparency.
Is your team lacking unity?
This could look like:
- They’re great at their individual tasks and getting work done, but team collaboration is non-existent
- Team members rarely pitch in and help their colleagues
- There is no team synergy
Team collaboration and synergy is another problem that my clients face, regularly. Many times, in an agency, there are local team members and virtual members, which can cause a lack of unity. I’ve found the most efficient, productive, and profitable teams work together collaboratively on projects, share ideas, and are open and comfortable giving feedback and constructive criticism.
Managing my virtual team for Loop Link and helping agency owners manage their own local/virtual teams, there are a few ways to build team unity within an agency:
- Have semi-annual team events
- Monthly/quarterly team events throughout the year
This could be planning retreats for virtual teams or local team events like co-working days or team dinners!
These events create space for bonding, and I am a big believer that bonding always happens over some sort of traveling and being in a new space!
Effective Team Management
Being aware of these before hiring team members will help make team management much easier. If you already have a team and are noticing these problems, here’s how to correct course and move forward:
- Have a system in place to train your team on new tools
- Integrate monthly check-ins and follow-ups in group and individual settings with your team
- Plan team events to create space for bonding
When you’re proactive about these problems, it can help your agency be more efficient, productive, and produce a higher quality client experience, leading to agency growth!
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