The secret to building a great team
I never aspired to be anyone’s boss. I worked for years as a paralegal, took some time off to raise kids, and then re-entered the workforce when the gig economy was just getting started. I wanted the freedom to work from anywhere, and I loved writing, so I combined the two and became a content writer.
When I looked up one day and realized I had to turn down far too many clients because I didn’t have the availability, I reached out to another freelancer to see if she would be interested in helping. She did, and not soon after, she suggested a second freelancer that could help as well. Recently, I have added a third freelancer to take on overflow.
In 8 Behaviors of the World’s Best Managers, Gallup discusses the value of managers that connect the purposes and goals of a company to actions taken by individuals. The single most valuable role of a manager is understanding how an individual can best benefit a company’s overarching goals.
That is how I accidentally found myself “managing” others. Here are some valuable lessons I have learned along the way.
The Willingness to Learn is More Valuable than Experience
In content production, each client is different, with different goals for the content they want, and those goals change to accommodate changes in the industry. That means we are forever adapting, updating, and revamping how things are done. I have worked with experienced writers who were excellent at their craft but wanted to do things they had learned were “right” instead of adapting to clients’ needs.
I have also worked with green freelancers who had almost no experience. Without a single exception, the ones that worked out best were the ones who viewed it as a learning opportunity. Before a new freelancer comes on board, I warn each freelancer about the extensive feedback to expect initially.
It is impossible to keep an updated spreadsheet that adequately conveys all the requirements and idiosyncrasies of each client. Hence, the best way to learn is by jumping in and doing a piece, then going through revisions.
Find People Who Have Things to Teach You
Though I have the most experience with legal content writing, my team has a wealth of other skills and experience that they bring to the table. Utilizing their unique skills, we make a pretty formidable team. Everyone can do SEO research, but one of my team members has a knack for understanding algorithms and the best way to insert keywords organically.
I am far from tech-savvy, so another freelancer jumped in to build the website. I work with another freelancer that can insert amazing visuals to make even the most mundane content appear engaging.
You see where I am going. Not only do they utilize their unique skills, but they teach me. I am a far better writer because I have surrounded myself with people who can continue to teach me new things.
It can be hard to make time to learn everything we need to know as freelance content writers. In building a team that values learning, we can split the work of tackling emerging trends. Once one has it nailed down, they can teach the others.
Avoid Tunnel Vision
One of the greatest hindrances to growth in any sector is tunnel vision. You develop a great product or service, learn to market it, and create an effective funnel. Those are the fundamental business principles that apply to all startups. However, the very things that make you successful can become a trap.
Think about the newspapers that didn’t adapt, in time, to the internet era. Big and small newspapers around the world went busts while others adapted and thrived. The difference was the ability to adapt quickly to emerging trends.
Building a great team means having more eyes on what is coming down the pipeline and more creative solutions for how to adapt when the inevitable market changes hit.
Good Managers Do Not Need to Micromanage
The need to micromanage is a strong sign of poor leadership. Surround yourself with intelligent, competent people, and trust them to do their jobs. If they don’t perform as hoped, address the issue then. You will probably be surprised at how infrequently you need to address issues.
In content marketing, deadlines are crucial. So, that is the first thing I discuss with any new freelancer. If you agree to take on a piece of content, I am 100% dependent on you delivering it on time. Life happens, and there have been times when a freelancer could not deliver on time. On those rare occasions, they always gave me advanced notice, and it has never caused me to miss a deadline.
Whether you are a solopreneur or managing a team of a hundred, invest in hiring or contracting with people that do not require micromanagement. The ability to let my team do what they do without monitoring progress constantly allows me to spend much more time doing things that generate revenue, like networking and writing.
Trusting my team reduces my personal stress, allowing me to be more productive. It also allows me to retain my focus on the initial vision I had when I started this journey, making money doing what I loved while having the flexibility to travel and continue to spend time with my family. If I can help others achieve their individual goals while staying true to my own, everyone wins.