Diary of a Small Business Owner (3/18/20) - Train, then Trust

Diary of a Small Business Owner (3/18/20) - Train, then Trust

We did something today that we've been wanting to do for at least three years. (A crisis can create urgency in more ways in than one.)

We've always wanted to add more features to and make it easier to shop our online store. But the task of tagging products, adding photos, organizing the 2,000+ items we carry at any given time - well, it all seemed so Herculean. And with no Hercules dedicated to online store management, the tasks stayed at the bottom of every list we made.

Then our store closed and our people had time. And we had work. Swipe right.

After some Zoom calls to train, the team got to work. One asked how we'd keep track of work done and in about fifteen minutes she'd created a badass spreadsheet more badass than I could have come up with (note to self: once this passes set up BadassSpreadsheets.com as a site where CPA nerds can one-up each other). This will allow collaboration across geography in an age of quarantine. She made our team better.

It just took a half-hour of training. And a lot more trust.

Leaders often think that most of their job is training, and certainly that is one of the main responsibilities. But more required of leaders is trust - trust in the people they lead and trust in the system they've developed to get work done and keep those they lead motivated. If you're constantly watching over people and telling them how to do things (what we call micromanaging), you're not trusting them. And therefore, you're not leading them.

We have other team members curating gifts that are selling more units now than ones us "leaders" have curated. Other employees are talking about a cohesive and useful social media strategy (again, something that we in "management" have wanted to do but never pulled off) in order to keep growing our audience. I wish I could say that I gave these people ideas along with a rousing speech and then they went out and impressed me.

But I didn't do that. I just trusted them and they went to work. They asked if they could do something and I said yes. And everyone won.

I certainly check in with everyone. I monitor their work and progress and offer feedback. I'm not at the beach (I'm leaving that to the Millennials) hoping my company succeeds. I'm investing in people and watching those investments compound interest with each deposit of trust I give them. 

Sure; there's some fear as I take my hands off, but I'm getting better at that, which will serve me well. We've always had the dream that Batch one day exists in cities all across the US and if I can't trust the good people I have in my own city, how will I trust others to make critical decision several states away?

Easy: I'll train them. And I'll check in. But my main role as leader will be - and is now - is to trust. 

The best performing teams trust one another. Trust is the very foundation of legacies; the stronger it is the more resilient your team will become. And we all need a whole lot of resiliency right now.

Tomorrow's agenda will look a lot like today's:

  • Wake up.
  • Train.
  • Trust.
  • Repeat.

(P.S.: We had our best online sales day of the year today. Thanks, world.)


I began keeping this diary on Friday, March 13. You can read all of these posts by clicking here.