Don’t micromanage — Let your employees do their jobs, which also means letting them learn from mistakes. Coach them along the way, but don’t suffocate them with oversight. People can only learn by getting it wrong and fixing it on their own. That’s how a team grows and you’ll become more respected as a manager if you allow them professional empowerment. There’s nothing worse than a manager standing behind you watching your every move. (It’s also not a great use of your time — go be productive somewhere else!)
As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Taylor. She is the principal of Jen Taylor Consulting, a consulting firm that works with creative businesses of all sizes to implement streamlined workflows and organized systems to find more time and space for business growth and personal development. She is also the owner and founder of Taylor’d Event Group, a leading event planning company that serves local and destination clients in Washington State and Maui, HI.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
You know that saying: when one door closes, another opens? This is precisely how it happened for me. I got married in late 2004 and realized I had a knack for planning. I spoke with the planner I hired for my wedding and she agreed that I would do well in the industry — but she cautioned me not to quit my day job until I was ready to take it head-on. I heeded her advice and continued working at my job while thinking up ways to start my business.
Not long after, in early 2005, the company I was working for was being sold and, after 11 years in the corporate world, I found myself in a position where I was being let go. It was then that I decided it was time to pursue my dreams full-time and I went on to open Taylor’d Events Group in 2005.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
During a very busy time in my business, I faced a personal crisis: I lost my Mom to cancer. I worked from the hospital and kept my clients notified what was going on, but my priority was to be at her side. When she passed, I had a plan in place for one of our biggest wedding months yet. When you have a team that is ready to pick up the ball and you communicate throughout the process, your company can continue forward even with the owner being out of business for a few weeks.
This experience taught me one of my biggest lessons in business: You must be ready for everything and you must make sure your team is always prepared. I don’t know if I would have made it through that month if I didn’t have a great team on the ground, so it drove home the importance of building an effective team that is ready to have your back at a moment’s notice.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was working on a fairly large wedding with lots of details and moving pieces throughout the day. For this wedding, it was only me, myself, and I — responsible for everything. I was sitting on the floor going through items for setup and, at the same time, was getting calls from the client to help with this and that. I was getting more and more irritated by the second! It was in that moment that it hit me: I had no help, nobody to delegate tasks throughout the day so I can focus on my job. In the moment, it was a crushing feeling — but, in retrospect, it’s funny that it took complete overwhelm for me to realize that I needed to start building an awesome team (which I now consider my most valuable asset!).
Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?
My best advice is to get to know your employees! Talk to them about their dreams and where they aspire to go with their career. It’s a working relationship, sure, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a personal one. Give your team members a reason to care about the company and their role in it. Don’t treat them as a number or another cog in the wheel; show them how much you care about their growth and success.
How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?
The key to effective collaboration within a large team is communication. As a leader, you need to make sure everyone is on the same page and confirm that they’ve received all the necessary materials for the project at hand. Then, continue communicating openly as things change and move forward. This doesn’t mean holding meaningless meetings to catch up on facetime, but relevant and intentional meetings that drive the team forward are an effective way to keep communication productive.
Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)
1. Setting your expectations — Ask yourself: What is the expectation of a team member? What do they expect from you as their manager? As you hire to fill a position, consider what you need them to do and only bring on someone who fits the bill. Then, communicate your expectations to the new team member. We’ve gone through this with every new hire on my team and it’s been an effective way to maintain productivity across the board.
2. Training — If you haven’t created a complete training guide for your team, you need to make that a top priority. Did you know that 40 percent of new employees leave within a year if they receive poor training (Source: Hickory Training)? Take some time before you start building a team to ensure your operations manual & training guide are set.
3. Be available — As a manager, it is your job to be available for questions or those in-the-moment “can we talk?” moments. Don’t put employee concerns to a weekly meeting. Make time for your team and they will respond in fashion.
4. Don’t micromanage — Let your employees do their jobs, which also means letting them learn from mistakes. Coach them along the way, but don’t suffocate them with oversight. People can only learn by getting it wrong and fixing it on their own. That’s how a team grows and you’ll become more respected as a manager if you allow them professional empowerment. There’s nothing worse than a manager standing behind you watching your every move. (It’s also not a great use of your time — go be productive somewhere else!)
5. Get to know them — As I mentioned earlier, this is a major part of nurturing a team that will show up for you when you need them. Building a team is similar to building a relationship; you need to build mutual respect and understanding. Don’t be afraid to talk about fears and failures of your own — it makes you seem real and approachable, instead of just another authority figure.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Empower your employees! Let them know that you have their back. Make them feel like they are a part of the business — they are giving you many hours of their life to help you succeed, so it’s important to show them how much you appreciate their efforts.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would encourage all small business owners to take control of their business instead of it having control of them. Too often, we fall into this mindset that we need to give our all to our business even if it means risking burnout. I teach business owners about setting expectations and boundaries, as well as how to create processes and procedures within their company — all with the goal of falling back in love with their businesses. We are entrepreneurs, but we are humans first and we need to honor our needs as real people outside of our businesses.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The key to being a good manager or a good entrepreneur is to pick the right people. Pick the right people, and they’ll make you look good.” — Joe Gibbs
By building my own team, I’ve learned that this is so true: If you find the right people and treat them well, they will make you and your business look good. Companies are built on the backs of their team members, so continue nurturing and acknowledging all they do for you and your business.
Thank you for these great insights!