Wrong Employee or Wrong Position?
And more advice from Omi Bell, Founder/CEO of Black Girl Ventures. Their mission is to provide Black/Brown woman-identifying founders with access to community, capital, and capacity building in order to meet business milestones that lead to economic advancement through entrepreneurship.
They fund and scale tech-enabled, revenue-generating businesses (under $1M) founded by people who identify as Black/Brown and women. They ignite civic engagement and hyperlocal infrastructure at the intersection of business support services, supplier diversity, and social and financial capital.
1. Don't lose your focus!
One of the things I would say is don't get distracted. Knowing the difference between what's a distraction and what's a progression. And that is always evolving. You need to figure out what to focus on and what not to focus on.
2. Wrong employee or Wrong position?
As a founder, business owner, and human, there's so much coming at you. You are dealing with inflation, the supply chain, your board of directors, your employees, etc. And so what happens is some commentary comes your way. You don't know whether you're supposed to act on it, or you're supposed to digest it, or are you supposed to step back from it. I've had some incidents where an employee could have had a better experience. They projected some of that on me. I gave the rules, the parameters, the boundaries, and the tone for how I wanted to work done, and they weren't able to accomplish it. So sometimes, you have hired the wrong people, or you have the wrong people in the wrong roles. When you give them feedback, their feedback will be directed at you. But the reality is they're not the best fit for the position. And it's funny because I recently had this conversation with another friend who had a similar situation. Now we're asking ourselves, is it us? Did we create the problem? Were we supposed to do something different? And then realize this employee can't hear my feedback because I have them in the wrong role?
What's the best fit for the role is more than just the role description. Some of it is about who you lead best. So knowing how you lead best can also be helpful in how you decide. Are you able to set clear expectations? So, of course, I've had to let people go. But one of the things we want to think about is whether we can move them around. They may be great, but they're not at that leadership level. You might have them at a director level and realize that they're better as a manager.
Sometimes, based on a resume, I assume there was a larger skill set available, and this person is brilliant, amazing, smart, all of those things. Based on that, many years of experience in one arena may not translate to a startup environment. If I need you to be agile, or I need you to ebb and flow, or I need you to be able to switch quickly, you may not be equipped for that. You may bring on a fantastic employee that brings much expertise to the team, but they may need to be in a different role.
3. Do not put your Investors or Board of Directors on a pedestal!
Try not to put your investors or Board of Directors on a pedestal. Realize that these are humans, and these humans are giving input based on their experience, which may not align with yours. Sometimes you may intuitively know something and cannot give them the clearly defined logic behind it and how and why you solved it. But you can show the outcome and the results. Revenue is the validator. The business model working is the validator.
4. Don't neglect your health!
Another thing is don't let go of your wellness practice and don't neglect your wellness for the sake of being on the grind.
In March of 2022, I was like, forget this. I'm over it. I'm done. I took 30 days off and realized that I need to make it a practice to take some time off. It's almost like when you're too close to a thing you can't see. When you're so close to a tree, you may not be able to see which direction it's falling. And so you have to step back as you are, acting and hammering away at what you're doing. You have to step back and look at your work and visualize again. Sometimes we're so close to it, and we think that working so hard will be the thing that helps us push through. And it's not. So to avoid burnout, I had to take a break. I love what I do. And when you love what you do, sometimes that can become even more work, passion, and purpose. I stepped back, assessed what was happening, and took a breather. And with that, I'm able to get more creative.