When Having Team Members Adds More To Your To-Do List (Instead of Freeing it Up)

In a Facebook group that I frequently hang out in, there was this question.

“Every meetings, my to-do list grows by like 30 items, all across different departments. That’s challenging. Team takes a lot off my plate but also adds a lot. Any tips on solving this?”

— A post from Millennial Entrepreneur Community

With systems and team building being something right up my alley, I wrote a relatively long response to this thread and wanted to share it on here as well.


REASONS BEHIND THIS:

(1) Failing at prioritizing

(2) Team does not have enough mechanisms to become completely self sufficient (whether in terms of their authority, quality assurance, their supervisors’ management style etc)

(3) Lack of communication.

(4) Incompetent team members whether in terms of skillsets etc.

THE IMMEDIATE RESPONSE:

As entrepreneurs, we’re being taught to delegate / stick within our zone of genius– and outsource the rest. So many respond by simply hiring more people (whether a “right hand’ such as online business manger or a project manager or even another entry level position). However, if you already have a few existing team members, this should NOT be your 1st go-to solution.

WHY THAT IMMEDIATE RESPONSE DOESN’T WORK:

No matter how good the team member is, for the first 2-3 months, they’ll NEED that consistent feedback + monitoring + time to learn about your vision etc.

You’ll need to make that time to check in and train them etc– which just adds to to-do list as a whole. If you have a few team members already, only hire when you know how to remedy the root cause of the issue (that I mentioned above) + are absolutely sure that existing team members don’t have that skill already + you know EXACTLY where and how you want your team member to contribute…

Know the overall ROI– the impact of their work on your to-do list, on your bottomline etc. 

WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND:

CEO is the visionary + head of the company. And your team, teams, departments etc, should be designed + given enough tools to be able to put you outside of that direct day-to-day supervisor role. (Unfortunately most entrepreneurs end up becoming that direct day-to-day supervisor role and can’t scale as fast as they could).

** I always tell my clients to systematize + automate first BEFORE hiring new people– often, through putting these things into processes + some research, they realize they might actually be able to promote internally, or actually end up automating things to a point where they can divert the team members’ hours onto something else more revenue focused.

WHEN SHOULD PROJECT MANAGER COME IN THEN?:

Project managers (PM)”s are best suited to manage multiple different PROJECTS– budgeting, planning, scope determination, quality check for each projects etc… They might have the skillsets to be able to do the same for overall organization but it’s not recommended as project management is just a small discipline of operations management; and they’d need to shift back and forth between different lenses

(We’re talking the details for a few major projects / launches VS overall organization’s budget, hiring etc. That’s a very different scope and degree of thinking required. The latter would be more fitting for a director, COO etc.

YOUR GAME PLAN:

(1) Go back to your drawing board, and look at your quarterly goals, the projects you had in mind etc. Break it down into different tasks, deliverables, SPI’s. Assign the appropriate portions to each team members. THIS IS WHERE YOU CONSULT YOUR PROJECT MANAGER.

(2) You’ve taken care of projects. So let’s look at the organization itself. Make a list of every single tasks + activities around everything. Mark down any recurring tasks. There should be ranges across different functions (HR, marketing etc). 

(3) Start putting these major tasks into processes / systems. Whether a checklist, SOP, a recorded tutorial… DO SOMETHING. While documenting these, make sure to list out what role is involved in each part of the process. Design these in a way where you or any “supervisor” comes in only at the end or for quality check. And also put some sort of evaluative criteria within these systems as well so that you know the standard they should go for. 

(4) By now, you know what special projects that your team members are working on– along with their daily tasks. Look at what kind of tasks they’re taking on a regular basis. Start introducing them to these SOP’s. Ask them to make any modifications as needed. Also, feel free to interview any of the team members just to get to know their background or the skills that they’re learning. 

(5) Evil laugh as your to-do list starts to shrink. Observe the progress as needed. Feel free to bring on more people as needed.


Hope this was helpful!

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