My team took a consultant's report very personally and couldn't focus on improvement

In my corporate life we used consultants. I always felt they told me what I already knew but they provided authority and helped with politics. They were also expensive

When I started my business, I vowed not to use consultants but we didn’t have a lot of bandwidth and needed to do some process mapping of our logistics as we grew.

I decided not to use a firm and found a local person with an MBA who was a logistic specialist. I briefed her and she started her assignment.

She presented her report to our senior team. What she showed was that we weren’t communicating with one another and that the systems had big holes in them. We had too many manual interventions and the data entry was inaccurate.

My reaction was this was great as these were easy problems to fix. Dealing with these issues would improve productivity and customer service.

The reaction from our team was quite different. Team members started to blame one another and everyone was critical of the IT people. Tempers flared. I tried to calm everyone down and show them that this was good news as we could easily fix everything. It didn’t matter of who was at fault; it was an issue of growing pains that needed to be dealt with.

The fact that all of this became interpersonal was unsettling for me. I had a lot of work to do to bring this team together.

I couldn't do it all myself but I couldn't give up any control

I am alone and do nothing but work. To save money, I moved back home and feel like a child again. I fight to get out of bed everyday because the amount of things I have to do is overwhelming. My sales were over $150K, but I don’t want to hire anyone else; no one could do things better than me.

As sales continued to grow, I simply couldn’t cope. I hired a fulfillment company to handle the packaging and delivery. I visited them twice a week. Sales were then over $225k and I couldn’t keep track of everything. My accounts were months behind and emails went unanswered, so I decided to hire a part-time assistant.

She was a new mom so it could have been ideal. As soon as we started working together, I became critical of almost everything she was doing. I didn’t want to do things her way and I told her so. Sometimes she was late for meetings and sometimes she did things without asking me first. After six months, she quit. She felt she could never do anything right and that I didn’t trust her.

By this time, sales had grown again, invoices were in boxes, and it took me a week to fulfill an order. The website looked old and I had to update the product catalogue at least once a week as items sold out. This month, 35% of the products have a “sold out” tag on them.

My parents suggested I move out and that I needed an office.  I found a place that was big enough to act as an office and to live in. I moved all my things there.

I tried to hire someone to work with me but couldn’t find anyone good enough. Some people didn’t want to work where I lived. Others wanted too much money. I needed help but I also couldn’t let go. I had to control everything.

The business was in chaos and service levels were really poor. The repeat purchases began to fall away. For the first time in three years sales stopped growing. I had become the problem.

I was fired from the company I founded!!!

I was the founder and CEO of a profitable and growing two year old business. I felt the pressure for growth and realized I was in over my head in certain areas. I sought advice from one of our Board members. He was helpful; he told me to get better people into the organization so that I wouldn’t have to micro-manage and so that we had the core competencies to grow the company.

We functioned ok as a management team, but I found we had issues with too much talk and too few decisions. I did like everyone to agree before we moved forward with anything. Growth rates began to slow and the Board was getting nervous.

Then one day, a Board member came into the office and told me they weren’t satisfied with my performance. I was fired from my own company!!

I didn't realize the transition from consulting to a startup would be so difficult

I was a consultant for five years and had become a manager. Every project had a start and finish; teams would come together for the project and then change. I didn’t love being a consultant, but I was good at it. My real goal was to start my own business. The main reasons I went in to consulting were to pay off my student debt, save up money, and build my skill set.

Once I had enough money saved up and my wife was secure with her job, I was ready to quit consulting and start working on my own business. I loved the excitement of a startup. We got traction very quickly and friends and family invested $1M.

The team grew to six people. I thought I was used to working on and managing teams, but I quickly realized managing a team to build a company is very different than running a consulting team. We had to live with the consequences of our decisions and these were long-term relationships, not starts and finishes. I saw the same six people every day and there were even office politics.

I knew I needed to transition to being a manager, not a project leader. I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go to figure it out.

My management style was causing problems for the business

I was a management consultant before starting my own business in my home country. I was very successful – I always delivered on time and held people accountable. I was a machine when it came to work, but I felt like my job owned my life. I had saved a lot of money, got more from friends and family, and decided to start my own business.

I bought a small local manufacturer, bought new machinery and computer systems, and we started to grow very quickly. I knew everything about business and monitored everything that was happening. Nothing happened without me.

As the business grew and became more successful, I worked longer and longer days so I could stay on top of everything. My management team became frustrated as they had to wait for me to make decisions. As we added new people, I felt overwhelmed and like I was losing control.

One day a member of our Advisory Board called me and said I was keeping the business from growing. She said my management team were ready to leave if I continued micro-managing them and needed to control everything. She told me I needed to change or get out.

I alienated my team by paying a newcomer a much higher salary

I am the CEO and founder of a business with a startup team of four. We were working well together but we needed more help, especially with the financials. We had our first round of financing and we were trying to grow the business. Everyone did whatever was necessary to get things done and we had no conflicts, which was nice.

Someone recommended a person with an MBA from the local university who had spent some time in Europe. We met for lunch and got along quite well. He was eager to work for us. He wanted more money than everyone else was making, but he said this was the going rate for finance people. I really needed help, so I offered him the job.

When I went back and told the team about him and how excited I was, they were all upset that they did not have the opportunity to meet him before a decision was made. I told them it was my decision since it was my company. One teammate asked about the salary package and when I told them, they were incredibly upset; why did I value this new person more than them? They had sacrificed and worked hard and did not deserve this. I realized I’d made a huge mistake. I apologized, but the damage was done and the positive team culture and spirit never recovered.