This article is a part of a column by Megan Broussard, a career-lifestyle blogger at ProfessionGal.com. Megan is participating in the IBM My Smarter Commerce campaign in pursuit of starting her own business, and she’ll be sharing what she’s learning with us along the way.
Buckle up. It’s probably going to get bumpy.
Team building seems to be the theme these past two weeks as I work to grow the ProfessionGal brand—and I don’t mean bonding in a forest somewhere, falling backward into a crowd of co-workers in order to establish trust.
No, I mean I’ve hired my first employee: a stellar PR and content manager.
And, you know what hiring my first team member has taught me? That I have a lot to learn about being a team player.
For so long, ProfessionGal was me and only me, one girl with a lot to say about the working lifestyle. But, now, it’s grown into a forum for women to talk about work, life, style, and everything in between. It’s bigger than me, and now more than ever—especially with the pending launch of the site’s online store—the brand needs structure and input from others in order to grow.
There’s no flying from the seat of my pajama pants anymore. To grow a team, communication must be in tip-top shape, starting at the top. Here are three things that I’ve discovered about being a good business leader to my new partner in crime.
You Have to Articulate Things That Seem Obvious to You
When you’re practically married to your idea or business, it can be surprisingly hard to explain. It’s so innate, like a mother trying to explain how she knows what her baby wants. I don’t know, it’s just a feeling. That’s how I feel about ProfessionGal. I know who the ProfessionGal woman is because she’s me.
That’s why I was a little speechless when, after asking my new hire to create some partnerships with brands who align with ours, she essentially said, “Slow down sister—let’s discuss what exactly defines our brand in descriptive adjectives so that we can make actionable goals.”
At first, the thought of really articulating what was in my head seemed daunting, as if I was being asked what the meaning of life was or what makes the Kardashians so interesting to America. But then, I realized what a blessing it was. All my new hire wanted to do was clearly understand the voice so that she could tackle the right partnerships and create fitting content for the site. And at the end of our conversation, we both had a better understanding of the business, and she went off to grow our site.
When your new hire looks at you in all sincerity and says, “What on earth are you talking about?” don’t get mad, confused, or frustrated. Explain and start from the beginning. You’ll discover things even you didn’t know about your own story.
You Have to Make Time for Them
I’ll admit, there was a naïve part of me that thought that hiring someone meant paying for the work to go away. What was I thinking?
But I know I can’t be the only one who believed that, so let me give it to you straight: Just because you hire someone, does not mean that you can give direction and then run off to watch the success happen from a distance. You will continue to work harder than anyone else in order to truly see the benefit from your investment in your new hire.
This means that you will have to stop what you’re doing at times to answer questions, possibly throughout the day. In fact, try to respond to questions as soon as possible—if you don’t, before you know it, you’ve got a heaps of email to answer and are losing time and money because your contractor or employee can’t move on to the next project without your input or approval. Sure, it’s a little distracting, but it’s helping my new employee do a better job of helping me.
And if the thought crosses your mind to just do things yourself because you don’t have time to train your new employee? Stop right there. Remember, you obviously can’t do it all yourself because you knew you needed to hire someone in the first place. If you’re smart enough to know that, then you are beyond intelligent enough to realize that it pays off in the end to train someone now.
You Have to Admit When You Just Don’t Know
There are so many things that I know I need for my business, but I don’t know where to begin or who to ask. For instance, I want to hire an intern, and I’m not sure whether to provide a stipend or offer college credit. For the latter, do I have to be a registered business? Would copyrighting my site qualify? What are the reasons sites copyright their names, anyway? What are the legal implications for all of the above?
As the head honcho, it can be hard to admit to your employees when you don’t know the answer to something related to your business. It can often be even harder to admit it to yourself that your new employee may know more about that aspect of your business than you do! But remember, you’ve hired someone because you identified a weakness in your skill set that you know he or she can fill. And, that’s smart!
That’s why you shouldn’t feel embarrassed for admitting to your contractor or new employee that you’re completely clueless about something. This person will either have the answer, or he or she will be able to help you find the solution. One thing’s for sure: No one will think any less of you for not knowing—in fact, your new employee will probably be happy to see that there’s a clear need for his or her help!
I’m lucky to have found someone so resourceful and proactive to be my first team member. It’s her fresh perspective and creativity that I value most among other qualities, and my next step is to find someone as diligent as she is to be our next new member.
ProfessionGal is looking to bring on an intern and a freelance writer and social media community manager. If this sounds exciting to you, contact professiongal(@)gmail.com to discuss details!