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.

Somehow silos were forming when I thought we'd been active in preventing them

We were having a team dinner, there are now 40 people, and as I looked around, I realized I don’t know all of them that well. I noticed people were seated with others from their departments. Sales people were with sales people, ops with ops, etc. I realized I had a problem on my hands; the company was already breaking into silos.

We always valued collaboration and saw it a part of our culture and differentiation. But I could see this slipping away. Where had I gone wrong?

When someone joined the company, they worked in each department and we had open meetings with everyone in the company. When possible, we had multi-departmental teams working on projects. What else could I do? If I failed to act now, the problem would get even worse.

Even though I started the company, maybe I'm not cut out to be a manager

Managing a team is a pain in the ass. Everyone is so self-centered and needy. It takes all the energy out of me. As the company grows it is becoming more difficult to get people to work together. Why should I be spending my time on this? I should be out getting more business.

Yesterday a team member resigned. She was the first person to leave the company. She said it had nothing to do with money or status. She loved the product couldn’t work with a dysfunctional team and leader.

It wasn’t fun to come to work. There was no clear direction. Priorities changed day-to-day and people didn’t support one another. She looked me straight in the eyes and said there is no leadership. She told me I was in over my head and didn’t realize it.

Did I know, she asked, that I had not spoken to her in three months and there are only 15 people in the company? Did I know her mother had died? Did I care? I told her this was not intentional and I was sorry. She said that was the problem.

 

My Board called me stupid and weak

I am the founder, CEO, and majority shareholder of my business. At 18 months, the business was growing and all of us were getting a salary of some sort. We worked well together, but we had major decisions to make.

The first decision was about hiring –w e needed more people. I wanted to wait, but others said we need people now and should take the risk of the added cost. I knew they were wrong but didn’t have the courage to stand up to them.

The second was moving offices. We didn’t have enough room, but the office was okay and rent was low. The others wanted to move. Again, I knew they were wrong, but I caved in. I couldn’t bring myself to exert my authority and say, “I’m the boss, this is my company, this is what we’re doing.”

Within a few months, our revenue growth slowed and we were operating at a loss. We had to let our new hire go, which cost us more money. Our Board was angry with me and our prime investor called me stupid and weak.

How can I lead when we're all supposed to be friends and equals?

Everyone in the startup was friends, some going back years. In the beginning, as friends, we considered each other equals, but as the business grew, I could sense this wasn’t working.

No one wanted to hurt anyone else’s feelings. It’s difficult to say no to a friend or peers and then go out for a drink with them.

I am not sure how to be a leader in these situations.

My first hire was negatively affecting staff morale

As CEO of my business, Mary was my first hire and we have been through a lot together. We were very close but as the business and team have grown, we do not spend as much time together.

Last week the team decided that the new software program would go live at the end of the month. Mary did not agree with the decision. She didn’t listen to anyone even though software is not her area of expertise. She argued with everyone. She kept saying she was the first employee and she knew what was right.

I could not get her to see reason. Eventually we had a personal discussion. She told me she no longer trusted me and that I had broken all my promises to her. I simply could not deal with her. Later, I was approached by several members of the team who said it was becoming more and more difficult to work with Mary.

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.