Do All the Monkeys End Up on Your Desk?

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I love monkeys, don’t you? My brother and I saw one in a Woolworth’s store (remember them?) many many years ago and I wanted to buy him so much. (I wasn’t allowed to have the monkey, but when I think that I was allowed to have the alligator, 2 ducks, 6 chicks, the mouse, the snake, and the turtles in my room, I guess I was pretty lucky.)

I learned to not take the monkeys in my company
So it isn’t any surprise that when a team member comes to me with a problem or challenge, I like to picture them with a monkey on their back. And since I like monkeys, in the early years of my business, I would often let them give me their monkey. I do love a challenge.

I had to learn to not take all of the monkeys. This was difficult at first.

Team members with monkeys often try very hard to give away their monkeys. It’s easier for them to come to the boss each time they run into a glitch or a challenge, rather than to figure it out on their own — and if the boss is willing to always give them the answer, a cumbersome cycle begins.

Are you taking the monkeys in your company?
You may feel that you have to answer all the questions, or that you’re the only one who can effectively solve the challenges. Others may not “do it right” if you’re not always giving direction, correct?

I beg to differ. No one learns only by watching. We learn best by doing.

Compliment their monkeys, pet them, and give them back
Try this the next time someone comes to you with a monkey on their back: Tell them what an interesting monkey they have. Admire their monkey, and agree that, yes, that is indeed a challenging monkey. And tell them you can’t wait to see what they’re going to come up with to solve it.

I bet you’ll be delighted with the outcome. And over time, you’ll end up with fewer monkeys on your desk.

Be sure to check out my video Don’t Take the Monkeys.

Everyone Isn’t Like You: Entrepreneurs Are Different

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My dad always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be, but I’m not sure he realized how much I took his words to heart. Ahead of his time, Dad encouraged his daughters to seek careers that would allow them to support themselves — meaning, getting jobs in any field a man could. This was in the late 60’s, when women still weren’t expected to go too far. He didn’t think I’d be an entrepreneur. But he did know that I was different.

I remember a dinner one evening years ago, as I was just starting my business, when the conversation centered on a family member who hated his dangerous job. “Tom,” the family said, still had quite a few years to go until he could retire, and it was awful that he had so many years to go, doing a job he disliked so much. I’d heard the story before and decided to say something. “If Tom is so miserable in his job, why doesn’t he just quit and find something else to do, something he likes?” Everyone got quiet. My dad raised his eyebrow and quietly said, “Well, Marcia, everyone isn’t like you.”

It really stuck in my mind when my dad told me that “everyone isn’t like me.” After awhile, I came to know that he was right, and gave my own meaning to the phrase based on what I learned from my own experience and working with other entrepreneurs.

1. Not everyone can take control and make something out of nothing
You’re an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur. That’s really something, you know. You’re taking control of your life, of your circumstances. Whether it seems like it to you or not, you’re taking considerable initiative and risk. You don’t take the easy way out.

And you’ve made something out of nothing. Wow, just think about that. Even if you’ve taken over something that already existed, you’re improving it, tweaking it, breathing life into it. Creating.

Not everyone can do that. Even if they want to, not everyone thinks the way you do, they don’t grab control of circumstances like you do, they don’t know they have the power, like you do. You know this. You know there are people you can talk to about what you do and those who just don’t understand. It’s not a reflection on them, there are probably things they can do that you can’t. You’re just different this way; you can take control and make things out of nothing.

2. No one cares as much as you do
One of the biggest shocks I got when I started my own business, and this sounds really obvious, was that no one else was as obsessed with my business as I was. Preposterous! My business was the most interesting thing going. But no one wanted to talk about it incessantly like I did — at the beginning, only my pre-teen-aged son was available for dinner conversations (and he actually was a great listener)!

Does your spouse want to hear about your business all the time? Is he really all that interested? Bet not. How about your team, if you have one? Even if you’ve got the best employees and/or assistants around, are they coming to you all the time with great ideas for business building? Is anyone 100% focused on your business 24/7 like you are? A friend of mine once put it this way, and I think it perfectly sums it up — the cheese really does stand alone. You care. It’s your baby.

3. Not everyone will understand you
People will marvel and think you’re strange. Your team will think you have your head in the clouds, and will often look at you like deer caught in the headlights. Your parents will have a difficult time understanding why you don’t go get a real job. Your spouse may think your business is just a hobby, and of course you can pick up the dry cleaning and do errands during the day. Friends think you’re raking in the dough and can always pick up the lunch tab and take huge amounts of time off. No one who has not run their own business will have a clue what you do every day or why you’re doing it.

4. You’re not crazy
You’re different, and that’s a good thing! Recognize and celebrate the fact that not everyone can take control and make something out of nothing. (There’s no need to flaunt it, though! That’s a downward staircase that will get you nowhere.) It’s true that no one cares as much as you do, just as not everyone wants to help you plan your next vacation or hear about every cute thing your baby did. Even if they work with you or are married to you, no one will care about your business as much as you do. Accept it and don’t force it on anyone. And not everyone will understand you or what you are doing — that’s okay too. Just understanding these things about yourself and your situation will take a lot of stress off of you. You’re not crazy and you’re not alone.

There is hope, though — there are people who will come very close to understanding you and caring as much as you do if you look for them. Find or put together a peer group or mastermind group of business owners where you can share ideas and challenges. Seek them out — these people are different, too!

What Do You Need Most from Your Team?

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Sydney getting support

Sydney getting support

My granddaughter Sydney just started walking. She’s doing pretty well by herself, but every once in awhile she still needs a bit of support, something to hang on to. To get her balance. To be able to perform at her best. People around her can demonstrate all the skills and knowledge they have, but if Syd doesn’t have the support she needs, she’s going to fall!
In the same way, very small business owners need support, first and foremost, from their teams.

Support and fit are the differences between the team you build for your company and the teams you may have worked with in a corporate or big business setting.

#1. You need support
When you’re building your own small business team, the number one thing you need is support. Not skills. Not experience. Not knowledge. It’s support. Let’s say that again: you need support.

At the end of the day, you’re the one with your neck on the line. You’re the one who’s made the investment, the promises, the commitments. You need to deliver, and you need support in order to do that well and consistently.

Many business owners are tempted to hire team members for specific skill sets and specialized knowledge, and that’s all well and good, down the line. You do need these things. But remember that now, in your business, this is for you: the whole shootin’ match depends on you. So while you’re looking at that person with the great technical skills or the terrific sales record, think about the two of you working together side-by-side on a project and ask yourself, “Will this person be able to really support me like I need him to?”

#2. You need people who fit your personality, values, and philosophies
You need this to stay sane. This is not really taken into account in big business — you get who you get on your team, and they’re usually hired by HR. But in a very small business, it’s really important, especially to you, the owner, to be working with people who fit you and “get” you. You need this to feel totally supported (see #1) — you really need to be understood by your team.

Make a list of your personality quirks, values, and philosophies — your team may not match all of them, but you’ll work better with people who do. Would you like to work with people who are patient and willing to flow with your eccentric personality? Put that on your list. Is it more important to you that the work gets done to your exacting standards than that it gets done at a certain time, or vice versa? If you’re hiring someone who’s going to work very closely with you, it may be important to you that they see eye to eye with you philosophically. It really pays to think about what kind of people you work best with. (Of course, you can’t discriminate against someone for religion, race, or disability, but you wouldn’t do that anyway.)

Bottom line: People are people, and depending on how close you’re going to be working with them, you’ll want to feel like they’re part of your “team.” You’ll want a rapport, a relationship with them, so you can begin to read each other. Remember Murphy Brown’s house painter? Eldin was a part of Murphy’s team, even though he wasn’t a traditional hired employee, and he really fit her personality. If you want to be able to count on someone the way Murphy counted on Eldin, you have to start thinking of them as part of your team — people who can support you and fit your personality, values, and philosophies.

Hiring The Right Person: 8 Proven Strategies You Need to Know BEFORE Your Next Hire

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One of the top frustrations I hear from small business owners is about hiring correctly. They want to know how to find the right people: really good team members who will stay, people who will understand them, how they work, and match their personality. They want people who will fit in and support them so they can do their genius work — what they started their business for in the first place.

As an entrepreneur, you might have the same frustrations. You might really need to hire someone to help you with your overload — whether you need an employee, a part time worker, a virtual assistant, or a whole bunch of people — but you may be holding off for the fear of hiring the wrong person. And if you’ve ever hired the wrong person before, like I have, you know that it can often be worse than not hiring and continuing to do all of the work by yourself, or overloading current team members.

Hiring the wrong person can cost you a lot of money. And every day that you wait to hire because of indecision is costing you money. And both of these scenarios can cost you lots of time and stress. You don’t need any of this!

8 Proven Strategies for Finding and Hiring the Right Person

1. Don’t talk about the job at first. Talk about your company and your philosophy and see how interested they are.

2. Ask them what they do in their spare time. People who can use their natural talents and preferences in their work will be much better suited for and happier in their work.

3. Ask them why they want the job. It’s amazing what people will tell you if you ask.

4. Get references and check them. All of them.

5. Have multiple interviews. The person may not present the same later, and you’ll get fresh insights.

6. Have team members interview prospective employees. They’ll have great insights.

7. Test prospective employees. Make up a test that can be completed in 15 to 20 minutes, related to the job requirements.

8. Hire on 30- to 90-day trial periods.

Taking the time to implement these strategies will give you worlds of insight into how prospective team members will fit into your company’s culture, and how well they’ll sync with you. To learn more about this subject, download my free recording, “Hiring the Right Person: 8 Proven Strategies You Need to Know Before Your Next Hire,” below.

Talking Turkey: 4 Ideas for Communicating to Your Staff in Uncertain Times

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Boy, these are tough days for businesses. One thing I’m certain of, though: even with the roller coaster the economy is putting business owners through, I’m so glad to own my own business, and am not at the mercy of some employer somewhere. As an entrepreneur, I have the security of knowing that no matter what, I’m really in control. But how do my employees feel?

How do yours feel? This post is about making sure your staff gets the information they need while you navigate these turbulent waters.

1. Talk turkey
It’s no use trying to pretend that things are all fine and good business-wise if they’re not — your team knows you well enough to sense when you’re worried. Real information is always more appreciated than no information, even if you think it will worry them, too. You don’t have to tell them everything, but let them know what’s going on so they can understand why you’re acting they way you are. If you’ve got good employees, they’re much more likely to help than to jump ship or take advantage of the situation. And if you’ve got iffy employees, the way they react to bad news is good for you to know — better that they do jump ship, or that you find a way to deal with them now before they have a chance to cause trouble.

2. Talk often
Don’t think you can just tell them once that things are uncertain and that’s that. Once you’ve opened up, you’ll need to give them updates. Is it better? Is it worse? Are there ways they can impact the situation? Don’t let their imaginations run wild in one direction, when your situation may be constantly shifting. Again, you don’t have to give them the entire story, but update them frequently. Give them five or ten minutes at the end of the staff meeting to let them know if your plans are working, or not. If it’s more serious, plan on more time for questions.

3. Notice things
What’s going on around the water cooler? Is there a different tone in the hallways? Are people looking at you just a bit differently, or keeping their eyes on yours just a little bit longer? You may think everything’s hunky dory, and everything may indeed be hunky dory, but your staff may be wondering anyway. They read the news reports, and hear the talk. They have friends and relatives who’ve lost their jobs. They’re wondering, “is everything okay here, or not?”

4. Ask questions
Ask your employees what they think. Ask them if they have questions. Ask them in groups, and ask them individually. Ask them what they’ve heard. Ask them what concerns they have. Then ask your accountant what he thinks. Ask your banker what he thinks. Ask your colleagues what they’re doing. Ask, ask, ask. You may be surprised at the great information you’ll get.

5. Don’t bear your soul
Think before you talk. Yes, it’s great to share information, and yes, your staff will appreciate the fact that you do. But remember that the situation you’re in now is only temporary, whatever it is. Next month it will probably be different. Your team looks to you to set the tone, and you still have to lead. If you’re worried, it’s okay to let them know, but keep that to a minimum. If you need to talk to someone about your concern, it should not be your employees — they still need to see your strength. Find another outlet. Don’t bear your soul to your team.

Internal communication during uncertain times is essential. Your team doesn’t have the luxury you do, of being in control. But you can talk to them, and let them know that you’re doing your best to look out for the company — and that means you’re looking out for them.

“The Boss Myth:” 3 Stories You Bought Into About Being Your Own (and Others’) Boss

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Okay, you’ve got your own business. You started it, like most entrepreneurs, so you could have more control over your own destiny, more freedom to do what you’re passionate about, and to “be your own boss.”

Find out anything surprising about being your own boss? Or about being a boss out there on your own, period?

I did.

1.) I thought I’d “magically” be more productive on my own
One of the first things that hit me in the face like a blast of cold air was that I had no one to answer to. “Terrific!” I thought. “Fan-dango-tastic! I can do exactly what I want to do.”

Problem was, I didn’t always know the right thing to do. And even when I did, I didn’t always do it.

First off, as a new entrepreneur, I found it impossible to work at home. Having always been in a very structured environment, I was at a complete loss with my little corner of the family room. I had everything I needed, workwise, but the distractions were so loud! The laundry that had always been so innocent and quiet kept yelling at me, “Aw, come on, just put a load in! What can it hurt?” Suddenly the stray spoon in the sink was calling my name, the trash wanted to be emptied, and the living room was begging to be vacuumed. It was amazing to me that I never had heard these chores speak so loudly before, nor had I ever had such a strong urge to go to the post office, do my grocery shopping, and pick up the dry cleaning.

That noise all stopped when I rented a small office in an old converted school building, thank goodness. This may be something you need to consider as well, if you’re just starting and working out of your home. And if actually renting a separate space doesn’t work for you, think about taking over an entire room of your house and setting it up specifically as an office. With a door so you can’t hear the laundry.

2.) I thought I’d have this great wisdom to know how to direct and assess myself

I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty self-directed person, and many have called me ambitious and driven. I’ve always been entrepreneurial, even as a kid, and inside my various jobs while working for someone else. But I soon found it’s really easy to get off track without someone to report to, someone to give you an honest assessment of your progress.

The best ways I’ve found to wrangle with this particular challenge are these: an advisory board and mastermind groups.

Putting together an advisory board was one of the best things I did for myself in the early years. Every quarter, I’d invite my accountant, my financial planner, my insurance advisor, my attorney, and a marketing consultant to lunch, at the same time, pay them $50 each, and make a presentation to them about the state of my company, including financials, sales projections, and current projects. Then, I’d ask them for their advice. Boy, were they tough on me, and they expected progress from one quarter to the next, in many different areas. I prepared like mad for these meetings, and loved it.

After about 10 years, I discontinued the advisory board and substituted it with really strong mastermind groups and paid advisors. I make commitments for my business and share them with my mastermind friends, which still gives me that all-important accountability. A good business coach would be a great idea as well.

3.) I thought I’d be a naturally great leader and boss

I knew what needed to be done in my business and how to do it, so certainly I could tell others what to do. They’d blossom and grow under my wisdom and tutelage, taking care of the stuff I didn’t want to do. With others focused on the details, I could concentrate on the really important, wonderful aspects of my business — like making money.

Hmmmm. . . easier said than done. People are interesting. They’re all different. And none of them are exactly like me! I learned early on that I had to figure out a way to manage my staff well or spend the bulk of my time obsessing over their work and correcting it, and then resenting them for having to do it all myself.

I went through most of the Boss Myth management styles:

The La La Boss — hire ‘em and avoid ‘em
You know this style. “I don’t really want to manage people or ‘bother’ them — they’ll figure it out. . . I hope.”

The Helicopter Boss — hire ‘em and hover
This was one of my favorite styles. Since no one ever did anything exactly like I did, I felt I had to be looking over their shoulders at all times, telling them every minute detail of how to do it. I’d even examine their work after hours, leaving notes for them to find in the morning. (Imagine how they loved that!) Wasn’t getting much of my own work done that way, though.

The Expert Hirer — hire experts and let ‘em do it their way
This didn’t work for me. I didn’t want to butt heads with my team members. And anyway, I wanted it done my way, not theirs. Many business owners try this approach and learn later that they really don’t like the “expert’s” way, and then become a hybrid Expert Hirer/Helicopter Boss. This is doubly exhausting, as experts fight back.

Mr. Nice Guy — “I can save her!”
A recurring theme for me, as I kept ineffective employees way longer than I should have, thinking I could “fix” them.

The Boss Myth can waste years of your business’ life if you’re not aware of the stories we all buy into and how to work around them. Being the boss doesn’t have to be the pain it often turns out to be, and you don’t have to fall back on the old bossy ways you experienced in your employed life, either. There are better, more conscious choices you can make and systems you can put in place to banish the Boss Myth and make being a boss one of the most rewarding experiences of running a business.

How to Make Double the Money in Half the Time

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Why did you go into business for yourself? Was it because:

  • you had an idea that you couldn’t stop thinking about, an idea that you wanted to bring into reality?
  • you could do something really well, better than anyone else, and you wanted to do it all the time?
  • you were tired of doing things the way someone else wanted them done, when you knew you could do it better yourself?
  • you had a passion, a burning desire that was bursting to be expressed?

You’re an entrepreneur, a business owner. And chances are, you didn’t start your business with a burning desire to be a manager of people.

I know I didn’t. When I started my marketing communications firm back in January, 1984, I had big dreams. I was going to be the most sought-after graphic designer around, my award-winning work would be seen in the top magazines representing the most prestigious clients. I’d be flamboyant and philosophical and utterly, utterly creative. And I wanted to be responsible to myself for how much money I made.

I was thrilled when my business grew quickly and I needed to add some people to help me, and I was sooooo shocked when I found out I had to be a manager.

Why didn’t these people know what to do? How was I supposed to know how to train them? Why did every problem end up on my desk? And if I spent all my time showing them what to do and answering their questions and checking their work, when was I going to have time to be flamboyant and philosophical and utterly, utterly creative? And how was I going to make any money?

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that:
employees = management = stress = time sucking activity = need to find a way to do it right.

I knew I needed employees if my business was going to grow, and if I was going to remain healthy and sane. A colleague in business for herself at the same time convinced me of that.

Susan’s story
Susan (not her real name) and I had very similar companies, so we would compare notes from time to time, and check in to see how the other was doing. When I hired my first employee I was so excited I could hardly wait to tell her, because I had discovered the compounding math of productivity: I could bill for my time, and I could bill for my employee’s time, and make double the money in the same amount of hours! When I told Susan of this intoxicating discovery and suggested she try it, I was surprised to learn of her fear. “But Marcia,” she said, “If I hire someone, I’ll have to pay them, and what if I don’t have enough money to pay them?”

I went through the calculations with her again, showing the profit margin of paying the employee out of the client billing, and billing the person out at a higher rate than you pay them, but it was all lost on Susan. Although she was always extremely busy, her fear of generating enough income held her back. So, as I continued adding employees and adding to my income, Susan continued working until late into the night, trying to meet client deadlines on her own. Our conversations changed, and things became strained. I tried to hold my enthusiasm back while she complained about missing family weddings, and not being able to spend time with her husband when he was in town, as he traveled and was out with clients a lot. Susan was always working, working, working, and her personal life was suffering. As we lost our common connection, we lost touch, and a few short years later, I read her obituary in the paper. She died of cancer, leaving her husband and two small children behind.

Susan’s story haunted me. It made me realize that I truly did need my team, I really did need help to run my business if I wanted to have a successful business and a successful life.

If you’ve hired employees, you’ve made the right decision, too. They can help your business grow, they can take some pressure off of you, they can support you, and they can help you make money.

If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to get a copy of my free report, “From Problem Team to Money-Making Machine.”

If you have it, take it out again and read it — there are some powerful strategies in there, don’t be fooled by their simplicity. And if you need a bit more help, take advantage of the Personalized Strategy Session offer at the end of the report, or the free Laser Coaching session. I can help guide you through the maze.

Make Your Team More Accountable: Get Them to Think and Act Like Owners

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Responsibility and accountability are aspects of ownership. Only those who feel a true sense of ownership in your company will be sincerely responsible to it and accountable for their own actions — isn’t that why you’re so responsible and accountable, because you own the place?

In Jason Jenning’s book, Think Big, Act Small, the author describes managers in billion dollar private companies being rated on how much economic value they’ve created for the company during the previous twelve months. This echoes exactly how business owners are compensated­ — you, as the owner, have always been rewarded solely on the economic value you create for the company. No value in the business = no paycheck, right? This type of thinking can, and should, be transferred to your employees as well.

In the companies the author studied, the employees who think and make decisions like owners are financially rewarded based on the value they add or create. Those who don’t fit the profile, or don’t add value, are moved out of the company quickly — they may be good people, but they may be happier somewhere else. “People are most productive and have a passion for their work when they agree with the values of the company,” says Jennings.

So, how do you get your people to think and act like owners?

3 Simple Steps to Begin Getting Your People to Think and Act Like Owners
1.) Let others push a few boulders
Stop working so hard. Let go, and let others in your company grow into their capabilities. I know you — you think if that boulder needs to get up that hill, you’ll just push it up there by yourself. I know, I’ve pushed many boulders up there myself. But if you’ve got at least one or two good people on your staff, step aside every now and then, and let them push that boulder up the hill. You’ve got to let them do the difficult, important work, too. It’s the only way they can know what it feels like.

2.) Share what you know
You can’t expect your staff to think like you do if they don’t know what you know. You don’t have to tell them everything, but don’t keep them in the dark, either. Good employees will care more and be more responsible if they understand why you make the decisions you make.

3.) Make them keep their own monkeys
Don’t let your employees come to you with every problem in the shop — sure, you can solve the problem, but that’s not the point. You hired them to help you, not make more work for you, so don’t let them put their monkeys on your back. A smile and a firm, “Gee, that’s a good question. I can’t wait to see how you’re going to solve it,” should do the trick.

Is Managing Your Team Taking Up Too Much of Your Time (& Money)?

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I hear it all the time: “It takes too much time to manage people! It seems I’m always checking them and fixing the things they don’t do correctly, and getting them going in the right direction, and keeping them focused. They just don’t ‘get it.’ Why can’t I find people who can figure out what needs to be done and then just do it?!”

Good question. Let’s assume for a moment that the business owners I hear this from actually hired the right people in the first place (that’s another topic altogether). This situation could be fixable with some perspective, patience, and a good internal communications plan (yes, even if you only have a few employees — or even just one). And when it is finally fixed, when their employees don’t need to be checked and guided and prodded all the time, these business owners will find that they’re suddenly making more money per employee, their management time is greatly reduced, allowing them to get on with the important work of business building (or taking time off, or whatever!), and their lives are much less stressful.

Why You Need an Internal Communications Plan
Hard to believe that an internal communications plan can do so much, isn’t it? Well, think of it as a maintenance plan, like you get when you buy a new car. Keep up with the regularly scheduled maintenance, and the car will be much less likely to be trouble down the road. If something does start to go wrong, you’ll find out about it in time to fix it. And the time and money you spend taking care of the vehicle over time will pay off in the long run, helping you to avoid costly repairs and annoyances.

Your communications plan doesn’t have to be a long or detailed plan, it just has to be a plan that fits your business. And you need to communicate it to your staff.

Here are the three steps to a plan that will turn your staff from a problem team into a money-making machine:

Step 1.) Take stock of your staff dynamics.
Step 2.) Make a touch point plan. (It’s not difficult, and I’ll give you the basics.)
Step 3.) Communicate it to your staff.

Step 1.) Take stock of your staff dynamics
Employees want three things:

• They want direction and regular feedback;

• they want to know your philosophy and the direction
the business is going, to know what they’re working towards;

•  and they want to know how they fit into the plan.

Your staff, while unique individuals, will want these things too. Take the time now to talk with them, individually if at all possible, and ask a few key questions so you can determine their most effective communication styles. Ask them what motivates them, what they need to feel supported in their work, and what they consider to be their strengths. Tell them you’re working on a plan for more effective communication they’ll feel more supported just by the fact that you’re asking questions and beginning this type of dialog.

Step 2.) Make a touch point plan.
You wouldn’t be an entrepreneur if you didn’t have your head in the clouds, so your employees expect you to be a bit different, a bit unpredictable. But you’re their boss, and they look to you for direction, and it can be frustrating for them if you leave them on their own too much, which is something a lot of business owners (myself included) do. It’s really tempting to just hire someone good and let them do their thing — just cross that “to do” item off of your list and move on. But that doesn’t help you build a great team.

A regular program of employee communication is a must for even the smallest company, and it needs to include a series of regular communication touch points. I work with my clients to develop a system of simple touch points, scheduled times that they get together with their teams, that work into their business styles. The important thing is that they happen, and that they happen consistently.

Step 3.) Communicate it to your staff.
Let your staff know what your plan is, and the logistics of how you’ll implement it. Adding this structure will be a great boost to many of your more detail- and task-oriented team members, who like to know when and how things are going to happen. The plan also lets all team members know there are set times for them to bring up specific issues and/or topics, and serves as a platform to keep everyone on track with deadlines and timelines.

A well thought out internal communication plan will help even the smallest business (yes, even you, with the one employee) smooth out the bumps in your management road, as informed employees are much easier to work with. Because they’ll understand their part in the larger scheme of things and know what’s happening on a regular basis, they’ll require less of your management time, they’ll be able to anticipate needs and present solutions, and they’ll be more proactive in their jobs. This translates into less stress and more free time for you.