For many IT business owners who started out as Technicians, serving their clients alone, one of the biggest steps in growing their IT Solution Provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP) business can be taking on staff.
Your business may have grown to the degree that it needs additional resource to keep up with demand, but nobody has ever taught you - the owner - how to manage people and even with model employees, managing people can be a tough job.
As your business grows to this stage it’s worth remembering the old adage, you’re only as good as the team you surround yourself with”. So, how can you ensure you help those you surround yourself with - your employees - are the best they can be?
Provided they know what is expected of them and are taught how to undertake that role effectively, most people will work their hardest to do a good job.
Ensure that for any member of staff you take on, you outline their roles and responsibilities properly. This would typically be achieved in the form of a job description.
Don’t use “fluffy” language in your job description. “Must be a confident self-starter” is a desire for an employer, not a responsibility for a member of staff. “Is responsible for completing the daily client health checks” is a responsibility. Back this with adequate training and/or a set of work instructions on how to do that job, and the person knows their role and responsibility.
Once you’ve defined a member of staffs role and responsibilities - let them own that role and do their thing.
In practice this might mean letting a member of staff know the outcome that is desired, offering some suggestions on how to do the job, but ultimately giving them ownership for achieving that result with your support and backup.
Allowing members of staff to formulate their own route to success in a responsibility means they’ll feel like a stakeholder in it and position themselves - and your company - for success.
While trust needs to be earned, you should show faith in your staff to complete their responsibilities. Don’t micro-manage, but do put the appropriate checks and processes in place. This might mean that you teach Service Delivery staff to update tickets in your Helpdesk or Professional Services Automation (PSA) system as they go - rather than at the end of each job. Rather than tapping your employee on the shoulder to ask them how it’s going - if you really need a status update, you can view it in your system.
Trust breeds confidence. When your staff realise you trust them, they will make sure to honour that trust to produce good results.
If someone - anyone - does a good job, you should acknowledge them for it. People differ - some people like to be publicly acknowledged, others in private. Find out which each of your team prefers and make sure to recognise their contributions to your business.
Likewise, don’t be the boss who looks to catch people in the act of doing something wrong. If you spot something an employee is doing wrong, speak with them in private. Why not try to catch your staff in the act of doing something right? Impromptu praise for great skill in dealing with a telephone call or handling a client interaction is a great way to motivate staff to continue doing what they’re doing well.
Taking on members of staff can feel daunting - more so if you’ve never managed people before.
Outline your employees roles and responsibilities, so they know what is expected of them and arm them with the knowledge to do their jobs.
Then, trust your staff and let them take ownership of situations. Recognise their positive contributions along the way to encourage them.
Doing so will build a culture of commitment in your business, and you’ll find you’ll find you are surrounding yourself with a team that allows you and your business to be the best it can.