Small teams are intimate, collaborative, and close-knit.
It’s a beautiful thing!
Leading a small team of people as the CEO of your creative business can be an exciting, priceless experience. Each member of your team becomes personally invested in your venture’s day-in, day-out challenges, and successes. Plus, if you’ve been working as a team of one for a while, it can feel empowering to have a collaborative community beside you to help you tackle obstacles or inspire new ideas.
But did you know:
Sometimes leading a small team can be equally as challenging as leading a team of thousands!
Sounds counter-intuitive, right?
Believe it or not, it’s true!
The thing is… while it may sound more overwhelming to manage a vast corporate team, leading a small team of just five people or less can present some uniquely messy dilemmas!
One of the biggest challenges of having a small team is that the lines can quickly blur when it comes to tasks, roles, and accountability. There are many seasons of hustle in the early years of your business where new responsibilities and opportunities alike pop up left and right. This means job descriptions get thrown out the window, task delegation feels like a free for all, and accountability– well, you can forget about THAT!
So, your team members start to take on more and more responsibilities. To be seen as “team players,” they pick up the slack to lend a helping hand even though they might not be the right person for the job.
As a result, your team duties get convoluted and confusing. Even worse, this duct-taped approach can quickly lead to employee burnout and lower quality standards.
This well-intended chaos happens because small teams are used to being SCRAPPY. Each person becomes an integral part of your business’s daily operations, and everyone feels enormous responsibility.
This kind of dedication and commitment can help your business SOAR when leveraged strategically. But when your small team’s energies are misguided, they can backfire, causing more harm than good.
With the three team management tools I’m about to share in this blog, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to lead and manage a team of any size. Plus, your team members will let out a BIG sigh of relief because they’ll finally feel clear about your expectations and how they can best serve the mission of your creative business.
So whether you’re a solopreneur who is thinking of growing your team soon OR already overseeing a small team of 2-5 (and beyond), I’m here to help you put the three most crucial team management systems in place. These team management tools will continue to serve you, your team, and your clients now and for many years (even if you scale to a company of hundreds or even thousands one day)!
As a solopreneur, team management is simple, but definitely not easy.
It all falls on YOU.
When you grow your team and delegate, you can expand your capacity and lean on support from trusted experts!
However, the moment you hire your first team member, you need to make sure roles are defined, hierarchies are established, and responsibilities are delegated.
Otherwise, things can get a bit tangled, leading to poor communication, confusion, and at its worst, burnout!
To untangle the web and make sure that everyone is on the same page, I recommend these three team management tools:
Each of these tools offers business owners a holistic picture of the business, the team, the roles and hierarchies, and who is responsible for each piece.
These are generally the first three things that I tackle with all of my COO clients, because getting clear on these aspects can have a tremendous, positive ripple effect on your business, your team, and, ultimately, your bottom line.
There is so much to gain from putting the right team management systems in place for your creative business. Let’s explore each one and how you can start to build out Org Charts, job descriptions, and RASCI Charts for your creative business.
An Org Chart is a mind map of an organization’s positions, hierarchy, and people. It breaks down departments and shows the line of command.
Simply put, an Org Chart defines who reports to who. It allows you to see the structure of your organization as intended so that relationships are clearly defined. You can use them in various ways, even if your organization is more “team-based” than hierarchical.
I love org charts in business because they:
Org charts take the guesswork out of your business’ overall structure, helping reduce confusion and improve general communication. Outlining your org chart is a significant first step and will give you a bird’s eye view of your team before you write or update your team job descriptions.
We’ve all encountered a job description at one point or another. Job descriptions aren’t just crucial for the job search process or the corporate world. As you hire and maintain a team, you need job descriptions in your creative business to support your ongoing work.
Even if you already have job descriptions handy from when you hired your team members, they are always worth revisiting.
Because things change!
And if you’ve been an entrepreneur for any amount of time, you know they can change both drastically AND quickly!
As your business evolves, you’ll often need to create new roles and positions as you go because it is common for the day-to-day responsibilities to change. Your team members’ roles may look different today than when you first hired them.
Sometimes responsibilities are added to your team member’s job description because they play into that person’s strengths or interest areas.
Other times it’s just because there is no one else to do it, and someone decides to step in to help. This is especially common on small teams where everyone wants to chip in for the common good!
You’ll want to clarify what IS part of the job, what is NOT but has landed on their plate…and then intentionally decide what stays and what goes.
COO Tip: I recommend you review and update your team’s job descriptions as an annual rhythm at MINIMUM. Depending on your business and how rapidly you’re growing, you may need to revisit your job descriptions more frequently. In these cases, I recommend doing this quarterly or bi-annually.
Once your job descriptions are defined and updated, you’re ready to introduce a RASCI Chart. Read on to learn more!
As you grow your team and start delegating your tasks, things can get messy. This is especially true for small teams where all members wear many hats!
You need a way to track all the different tasks that occur and ensure a point person is responsible for seeing each task through.
A RASCI Chart.
A RASCI Chart is a chart that lists ALL tasks that occur in an organization.
For this blog, we will refer to using a RASCI chart for your team management and delegation. But, you can also use RASCI Charts in other scenarios, including project management.
RASCI Charts break down anything and everything in your business to help promote accountability, clarity, and transparency.
My clients often ask, “why do I need a RASCI chart if I already have detailed job descriptions?”
It’s a great question!
A RASCI chart is like a job description zoomed in 10x!
Where a job description offers high-level responsibilities of each position and what success looks like, a RASCI chart gets even more granular and hones in on what is expected of this position on a task-specific level AND brings accountability into the mix! RASCI charts can improve team dynamics by giving all team members a better understanding of how each position interacts with and supports the other positions.
Whereas the big responsibilities lie in the job description, nitty gritty details lie in the RASCI chart.
The R stands for the ONE person responsible for doing the task. For example, the responsible team member could be the copywriter writing the sales page or the artist tasked with designing a logo. The responsible person, “R,” may even outsource the task. But they are the team member in charge of getting it done. This individual directly reports to the person who is “accountable.” Assigning ONE person as responsible ensures two people aren’t working on the same thing. It happens WAY more often than you might think! As a result, you can optimize each team member’s time and energy and reduce unnecessary overlap.
This is the ONE person accountable for the task being done, on time, and to an expected quality level. The accountable individual, “A,” makes sure R doesn’t drop the ball. A is ultimately held accountable for that task even though they aren’t necessarily the one doing it. This might look like a manager role overseeing a direct report in some organizations. In a smaller organization, the A might even be the owner or head of the business. Ideally, the A and R positions will be two different people. While this can be tough in a small business (there are only so many team members), it is best practice to make sure the responsible person is not the person who is accountable whenever possible. This provides checks and balances and ensures tasks are completed and done to the quality expected within an organization.
Supporting team members are the people who provide support for getting the task done. Unlike an R or an A, you can have as many people supporting a task as you’d like. These individuals support the completion of the task without being directly responsible for it. R may delegate certain portions of a task to an S, or an S may provide R with the information they need to do the job.
These are the people who must sign-off on the task. Consulting is like supporting but requires a sign off or approval relationship (yes or no). The C is the person (or people) who signs off that the task is DONE. This position requires two-way communication between R and C, back and forth.
These people need to know about this task and/or its outcome. They are not involved in doing the task and don’t have signoff duties, but they may need to know the task got done. While Consultants require two-way communication between all individuals, Informed parties may only require one-way information in the form of updates and reports.
COO Tip: Solopreneurs can start to build out RASCIs even before hiring a team so that it will be easier to delegate tasks in a thoughtful, insightful way.
You’ve outlined your Org Chart, updated your Job Descriptions, and mapped out your team RASCI chart.
You might wonder, “now what?”
Going through this process will probably shine the light on some, if not many, inefficiencies in your business. Maybe you realize that 75% of the tasks fall on just one or two people. Or you could discover that two or more people think they own the same task, causing friction and conflict (this might look like double-dipping or one person may be overriding the other without a clear sense of hierarchy).
But the good news is that confronting these inefficiencies is the first step toward streamlining your organization and promoting harmony within your team. You’ll be able to strategically untangle the web by making sure everyone is clear on their role and how they can be successful.
You’ll get everyone on the same page and make sure the work that happens in your organization supports the business’s goals and keep everything moving in the right direction so your team can genuinely BE a team!
When combined, these three team management tools, Org Chart, Job Descriptions, and RASCI Charts, offer insight into how a business is running, what MUST happen to keep it running like a well-oiled machine, and WHO is responsible for each piece. It’s like a blueprint of your business to understand your team, structure, and roles.
It’s the key to building and maintaining a team that will continue to help you reach and exceed your goals as a creative business owner and entrepreneur!
Want to learn more about growing your team, common first hires, or how to lead an interview? Be sure to explore my previous blog posts about the hiring process so that you can establish a solid foundation for your small but mighty team!
Team management is a very important part of your business, so save this to Pinterest so you have it for later!