6 Team Management Tips for Leading Your Freelance Dream Team

By Erin Ollila, Contributor, on December 20, 2017

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You’re brilliant at being your own boss. So good that you’ve got more happy clients than you can handle on your own. You’ve chosen to evolve your solo operation into a small business with actual employees. And you know that in order to scale, you can’t just be a boss — you have to be a leader. A leader nurtures a positive team culture, delegates responsibilities, helps employees flourish in their roles and sets an example. Ease into your new role as a manager and leader by following these six team management tips.

1. Make Sure the Necessary Systems Are in Place

Are you ready to hire? Well, before you add anyone to your team, you must make sure your systems are in order. After all, everyone has a particular way they like to get things done. Formalize these processes and procedures before you start training a new employee.

Ask yourself: Is there anything you can streamline? If possible, take the time to work with an organizational consultant to make sure your systems are thorough and easy-to-understand. Before you onboard a new employee, create training videos on each process you’d like your team members to take over. For example, if you’re hiring someone to handle your content marketing, you may want to use a video screen-sharing tool, like Loom, to record every step you take in the content management system to publish a new post.

If your new employee needs a refresher, he or she can watch the clip more than once. And if this particular employee doesn’t work out, you won’t have to re-record anything. The videos will still be available, and your next hire can start training immediately.

2. Consider a Trial Period

Before you jump into hiring your first employee, consider testing him or her out as a contractor first. This will give you a chance to see if this person really is the right candidate for the job. During this trial period, consider important factors such as a candidate’s personality, experience, motivation and ability to learn quickly.

3. Communicate Clearly

We all know that written and spoken communication skills are vital when working with customers, but they’re just as important when interacting with your employees. Be precise with your instructions, but encourage your team members to ask any questions they may have along the way. Adopt the open-door approach, whether your employees work remotely or in the same building. Consider keeping your desk in an open-office environment with your team or using online communication tools, like Slack, to chat in real time with any remote employees.

4. Delegate Responsibilities

You don’t have to do everything on your own. You do know that, don’t you?

The reason you hired an employee in the first place was because you’re growing, and you need the help. Delegating allows you to focus on the high-level work, while ensuring everything else gets completed, too. By understanding your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, you can determine which assignments to offload onto them. Just make sure you’re not holding onto work that could easily be done by someone else.

5. Manage Your Team’s Time Effectively

Now that there’s more than one person in your company, it’s even more important to make sure your scheduling is efficient. Make sure you’re connected through a cloud-based calendar system. And consider investing in tools such as Asana or Trello to keep workflows organized, so everyone knows which tasks are their responsibilities and when work needs to be completed. If you work in an industry where it’s important to track billable hours, make sure your time management systems are automated. And don’t forget to take the time to train your staff on any new time management tool you employ.

6. Monitor, Don’t Micro-Manage

You hired someone because you need the extra help, and they have all the skills necessary to assist you. Giving up control can be difficult for any small business owner. You’ve been running the show on your own for quite some time, and trusting your new staff to live up to your expectations can be tough. But if you want truly invested employees, you have to let them work independently. No one thrives under the supervision of a micro-manager.

Want some final team management tips? Give your employees wings. Teach them how to be accountable for their work. Monitor their output, and give feedback as needed. Be receptive to their suggestions. Once you do that, they might surprise you with ideas that’ll help your business run smoother and grow to new, previously unimaginable heights.

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