I didn’t intend to get into SEO, and I definitely didn’t expect to end up running my own company. Rather, I started out thinking I’d be a first responder (paramedic) or social worker of all things. In college, I dropped out of computer science and took philosophy and psychology, the transition into SEO happened purely by chance. And while the leap felt intuitive, the subsequent shift into building a business and leading teams did not. In fact, I initially disliked my new management role as it detracted from my digital marketing passion.
But life is unpredictable. I discovered the challenges of being company director were so important and compelling that I couldn’t just stand by — I had to take the initiative (which meant coordinating a team) and figuring out how to do it in a way that made sense to me. That is when it hit me that instead of approaching management like being a therapist (only with more rules and politics to deal with), I could think of it from a problem-solving perspective.
Playing to Employees Strengths
Now, as someone who found it challenging to flip the cognitive switch from digital marketer to management, I understand that trying to map processes to a team might feel slippery at best.
As our client base diversified and revenue increased, I started building a team with the intent of instilling my broad skill set into each new hire. For reasons that need little guesswork, the plan quickly fell apart.
Realising the impracticalities and learning from my failure, I started focusing on the strengths of individual employees, segmenting duties into more manageable disciplines and using screencasting to give step by step instructions of each process.
Building Strong, Scalable Work Flows
Setting up a team the way you would build a machine can give you a ton of leverage, they key to spinning 70 plates at once is reducing complicated tasks into their base components and keeping organised.
Recommended Project Management Tools
Disorganisation is the ultimate productivity killer. As the company evolved our needs changed, I started to reviewing a variety of project management tools with the essential requirements aligned with the way I would design a website, few dependencies, single owners and minimal decision points.
– I started using this at first because it was free however quickly progressed to Basecamp as the company and team expanded. Basecamp.com
– Basecamp is essentially a giant to-do list. Unfortunately, as my needs grew, I found its imported limits too restrictive and moved to teamwork. Teamwork.com
– Teamwork is similar to Basecamp, but the higher pricing tier is far more attractive due to the unlimited projects allowance, and the ability to import all data directly from Basecamp. I found it difficult to manage multiple workflows using teamwork, at the time I was using it there was not a facility to establish relationships between projects, and it was easy to get lost in an every growing swamp of data. Trello.com
– Free and paid versions are available. Trello is perfect for lining out complicated jobs in micro detail for both direct employees and outsourced team members. Slack.com
– Free and paid, Slack comes in a variety of flavours, complements Trello wonderfully and is now the communication backbone of my company. Teamweek.com
– After dropping Teamwork, I have started using the gant chart feature of Team Week to project manage time sensitive project Prosperworks.com
– The final icing on the cake the Google recommended CRM Prosper Works. The user interface is simple, Google Business Apps integration and the price point make this an indispensable tool for keeping up to date with the daily churn of tasks and tracking individual team members productivity.
Slack, Trello, Prosper Works provide all the functionality I need with a measure of Team Week thrown in for projects involving multiple stakeholders. I’m always looking for better smarter tools. Feel free to leave a comment below if you think I’m missing a trick.
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