How To Manage Expectations with a Growing Team

Startups must let go of the management reins as they accelerate toward their desired destination by building specially designed teams with smaller-than-normal numbers. The result yields less frazzled managers and staff members who are focused on carrying out the tasks at hand.

May 4th, 2017   |    By: Stefan Swanepoel    |    Tags: Management, Team, Communication, Recruiting

One thing I’ve noticed on the rise in my chosen field of real estate is the use of teams. Born in the mid-1990s to compete with individual agents, there are now between 35,000 and 60,000 active units working in 2016 according to research done for our 2017 Swanepoel Trends Report.

Still, real estate team-building isn’t without its potential barriers, including an absence in standard industry norms. But these aren’t exclusive to real estate teams; any time a group succeeds, managing those wins and the growth that comes with them presents added complexities.

Team dynamics, structure, and drivers remain fairly consistent no matter the team size. For leaders making the leap from smaller teams to larger factions, it’s important to properly manage expectations, as well as to realize that an adjustment will need to be made.

Bigger Doesn’t Always Mean Better

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos adheres to a simple edict when it comes to managing expectations and team growth: the “two-pizza team rule.” In short, Bezos keeps teams under the Amazon umbrella to around eight people because that amount of pizza, in theory, could feed that number of people twice.

Bezos’ concept breaks management down to the bare necessities, meaning every teammate gets enough support from leadership to allow him to do his job competently. As groups expand, resources get more and more spread out, lessening the chances for success.

Small businesses can afford to put one person in charge of many employees because resources are so sparse that leadership can afford to have its hands in as many buckets as possible. With team growth, however, must come some release of that control.

Startups must let go of the management reins as they accelerate toward their desired destination by building specially designed teams with smaller-than-normal numbers. The result yields less frazzled managers and staff members who are focused on carrying out the tasks at hand.

Grow With Your Team

Helping teams increase their productivity starts with communication. Understand all team members, how they differ, what makes them tick, and what they need to succeed can help you manage expectations appropriately for growing teams. Here are four ways to do so:

How To Manage Expectations with a Growing Team

1. Begin building.

There can be discussions, personal expressions, disagreements, and even arguments. But teammates must come together and become comfortable with one another.

At my company, I like to make sure everyone I work with feels confident with his or her assignment and members know what’s expected of them and how they will be assessed. I like to do this by helping them brainstorm, set goals, and divide up the tasks. Getting your team accustomed to those routines as soon as possible helps, especially as your team grows.

2. Do a tool check.

Is your team supportive, trusting, and respectful? Is its execution top-notch and supported by good communication and a positive attitude? These traits can’t be taken for granted and should be in high supply.

Be explicit with your team members about what’s expected of them, and deliver your expectations in a manner or on a platform that reaches them best. As you grow, employ regular check-ins with team members to make sure they remain on task and keep the duties and goals they have as top priorities.

3. Hear your team.

There’s obviously more to effective leadership than simply being “in charge,” and it is not uncommon for leaders to stop listening to the team. Leave your door open to employees who want to provide feedback.

Choose informal settings like team lunches or happy hours as a forum for these open discussions. Make sure you understand everything, seek feedback, and funnel it back to team members.

4. Seek a human touch.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents to a Verizon survey found in-person meetings to be more productive than digital counterparts. Personal contact provides the opportunity for a clear discussion in which ideas don’t get lost in technical translation.

Face-to-face meetings are also a great way to refocus larger teams and narrow a set of goals and targets. That said, use electronic meetings to gain status updates and move things along expeditiously when time is of the essence and face-to-face isn’t possible.

You have to break the mold the “old” team has fallen into without breaking the team itself. Reengage team members by letting them feel safe; then, reunite them with new smaller goals that are more readily visible and attainable on a shorter-term horizon.

Ignoring factors that shape teams or following a one-size-fits-all approach causes them to not function to their maximum capabilities. Adjust your management tactics as your team grows. It’s a good way to make sure nothing gets left behind as things start picking up.

About the Author

Stefan Swanepoel

Stefan Swanepoel is the chairman and CEO of the Swanepoel T3 Group. Swanepoel is a The New York Times bestselling author; a business, leadership, and motivational speaker; and a real estate trends strategist. The T3 Group operates T3 Sixty, a management consulting company that provides extensive research, strategic analysis, and business innovation to facilitate better management decisions in the real estate industry.

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