by Melanie Katzman
Who do you work with? People who share your values. Don’t compromise. Be clear from the start of what is nonnegotiable. Consider not just what you want to do but how you want to do it. How do you want your team to FEEL when working with you? Do you deeply value immediate, honest feedback or do you prefer a gentler touch? Do you like to laugh while doing the serious stuff? Is constant accessibility a virtue or a potential issue? Know what matters-to you!
Be clear about the time commitment needed from each person and whether they can match it. It can be very difficult to manage lots of part-time employees—of course sometimes you don’t have a choice. Be forthright about what you can pay people and be sure to address travel, meal, and other expenses from the beginning. Always, always be sure everyone knows their role and who they are accountable to.
You may have limited funds but your project may offer enticing compensation like access to great people, training opportunities, etc. In some cases, you can engage college or high school volunteer interns to supplement your paid team. If you can build a team, you can build a buzz, especially if you make time to gather together to learn and share experiences. Building an organization is hard work; try to find time to share a drink or a meal with colleagues to insure the connection to each other as fellow ‘humans’. It’s not wasting time, it’s an important investment.
Consider creating an advisory board of people of differing ages and experiences. Wise, retired experts will often be honored to help and have a wealth of experience you might not ever have been able to afford or access while they were in the formal workforce. Be sure to seek nonprofit as well as business input.
Listen deeply, really. Don’t listen to reload and make an argument. Ask lots and lots of questions and seek feedback about your leadership…and your team. Then, share feedback about you with your team and let them help you refine your style. If you are open to growing, they will be motivated to help you be your best.
Melanie Katzman, PhD is the founder of Katzman Consulting and advises individuals and organizations on how to enhance performance during periods of growth, crisis, or transition. Melanie holds several academic appointments at institutions across the globe, including Weill Cornell Medical School, the Bocconi Business School in Milan, the Henley School of Management in Henley-on-Thames, England, Kings College in London, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She holds a PhD in Psychology and is certified in the US and chartered in the U.K.