Working in a small business is not for everyone. The working environment is transparent to a degree that many people find uncomfortable (your colleagues and manager, maybe even your directors are likely to be aware of your every move – which is great if you’re performing). New business is rarely turned away so the only way quality can be maintained and delivery deadlines met is by team members working longer hours; this happens a lot when your small business is growing. Your founder directors, although appreciative of everyone’s efforts, are always looking for “more”. Performance issues are likely to be addressed sooner rather than later and perhaps more bluntly than many people are used to or prepared for. The runway between joining as a newbie and being deemed to “fit in” may be viewed as too short by most. Also, the swift exit if your colleagues decide you aren’t going to work out is brutal.
Of course – there’s a lot of upside too. If there wasn’t, no-one would bother putting themselves through startup discomfort & pain. But that’s not the topic of today’s blog. Today is about what I as a founder director expect from team members as a minimum. Here’s my top 10:
1. Commitment to our customers, to the business and to our common goals. This covers everything from being on time for meetings, doing your prep, being reliable and a host of other stuff. Real life recent commitment examples from our own small business are being in the office on a bank holiday because a project review must take place, giving up a Sunday to travel to a company event – even though family plans had already been made, changing plans and flying to see a customer the next day because they needed you to.
2. Passion about our company, customers, products and mission – this has to be real, it can’t be fake or people can tell. See my accompanying blog photo of Eddie Ryce from Learning Pool’s sales team if you don’t believe me (photo credits to Paul Clarke & Ruth Cassidy).
3. Honesty – about where you are, what you’re doing, why something failed, what you think about something.
4. Hard work and an eye on the prize – yeah – long hours sometimes but an outcomes focused approach where you can easily prioritise what’s important and make sure that’s done first. Linked to this I expect you to travel in your own time and to make sure all your follow ups and admin are done without anyone having to check or nag you.
5. Self-sufficiency. Not everyone has this on Day 1 but everyone needs to strive towards this. Spending time managing team members’ performance is an overhead I’d rather do without. You should make it easy for your line manager to manage you.
6. Self confidence but with it the ability to know when you need help and the confidence to ask for it.
7. Self-awareness – required to be a good team player. It should be obvious to you before it is to anyone else when you’re verging on asshole behaviour.
8. Enjoyment of the here and now. Everyone wants to and will move up – but try and enjoy what you’re doing to the full when you’re doing it.
9. Responsiveness – if I’m trying to get hold of you out of hours it’ll be for a good reason. If I can’t reach you despite having provided you with every device known to mankind (at your request usually) that’s annoying. Please note – being available in this way isn’t for everyone.
10. A desire to improve. Everyone should have this although in truth, some need it more than others. That’s life!
They’re my top 10. I’m sure there are loads more. Keep your comments coming. I love to receive and read them and so does everyone else.