Q: I founded a relatively small MSP business a few years ago, and now we’re growing our team to service more customers. I have multiple teams promoting and selling our services and supporting our customers. I’m overseeing technicians, marketers, and salespeople on a daily basis. I’m a technical engineer myself, and I don’t have much experience managing multiple teams with staff in different roles with varying responsibilities. I want to remain hands on and stay connected to the work, but I’m also only one person. How can I be a good manager in this situation?
It sounds like there’s a lot on your plate, and you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. The good news is that you’re scaling your business, and these are the growing pains associated with taking your MSP to the next level. Hang in there; it’ll be worth it in the end. We’re glad you reached out, and we’re here to help you find a way to manage your staff so they’ll be successful.
To provide you with advice for how to overcome this challenge, we spoke with Quiana Roy our HR Coordinator at Intronis MSP Solutions. We asked Quiana about what it takes to be a good manager, and based on her experience in Human Resources, she had a ton of useful tips to share. Here are Quiana’s eight tips for managing your growing staff:
How to effectively manage your MSP business
- Develop an organizational structure
As you’re building out your team, be sure to implement a formal organizational structure. This defines how your staff sees the company and its environment. As part of this, I’d also suggest determining how the different teams interact cross-functionally and what the limits of each team’s responsibilities are.
Establishing a well-organized company with clearly defined roles and responsibilities will help your staff to understand what they need to get done. Each person should have a clear idea of what their role is and how it plays into the bigger objectives of the business. Employees will take more pride in their work knowing they contribute to the business’ core objectives. A lack of organization in your business can cause issues and lead to confusion about roles and responsibilities.
2. Establish trust
Your employees want to be able to trust their leader. Associates trust managers’ advice when they’ve seen their managers follow it themselves. For that reason, you should make it a priority to establish trust with each member of your team.
To build trust, transparency is key. It’s important to share both the good news and the bad and to be honest in your feedback. There will come a time when you’ll have to do something even though it’s unpopular, and your actions might not always yield kudos. At the end of the day, you have to live with the decisions you make, so do what’s right for the company and follow your own judgement. You can also show you’re trustworthy by being willing to participate, roll up your sleeves, and help get a project done.
3. Invest in your team
I believe human capital is the driving force behind every company, and for that reason, businesses need to invest in their people. There are a few different ways you can do this. First, you should be in tune with your staff and keep a pulse on what’s going on with your team. You’ll be able to sense when something is off and address the issue without it lingering or getting worse. Be proactive when you feel that something is wrong, have a conversation, and find a solution to keep your team motivated.
Take the time to understand what’s important to each individual and what motivates them. When you know these things, you’ll be able to understand how they operate and be able to better structure benefits and perks so that they’re applicable to their lives. Getting to know each team member as individuals will also allow you to keep them happy in their roles and avoid turnover.
In your interactions and conversations with your team, be respectful, show humility, and make it personal. By developing a rapport with each contributor and showing you’ve made a personal investment in them, they’ll be motivated to work hard for you and for the business. Also, remember that when you act like a person and show your human side, people notice and respond.
4. Communicate regularly
In your efforts to develop trusting relationships with your team, it’s important to communicate regularly with your employees. You can’t be sitting in your office all the time waiting for your team to come to you. If you have heads of different teams, get them together regularly to share updates and announcements. Also, schedule regular 1:1 check-in meetings and interdepartmental meetings.
Practice honesty and transparency in your communication. You can do this by scheduling company-wide town hall meetings where you highlight successes and address any challenges that were overcome or ongoing issues. For more regular updates, you can send out a weekly or semi-monthly email newsletter that shares customer wins, company announcements, and recognizes achievements by teams and individuals. Remember to take these opportunities to showcase the positive things happening at your MSP. You want your team to look forward to these meetings and feel motivated to be recognized for their work.
5. Document processes
Another crucial part of effectively managing a team and a successful business is to establish agreed upon processes. You’ll need to work with your teams to finalize processes and document them so that everyone is on the same page. This not only keeps things organized but also holds every member of your team accountable for their contributions. If something goes wrong with a process, referencing the documented process will help you to figure out why something went awry. Another benefit to documenting processes is that it makes dealing with employee turnover more manageable, and you’ll be able to get someone else up to speed in a new position more easily.
6. Be open to feedback
A critical part of being an effective leader is always being open to feedback from your team. This means being willing to hear different points of view whether or not you agree with them. Ultimately, you hired your staff, so you need to trust your judgement and allow them to teach you the ins and outs of their roles and respect their opinions. Learn to be open and listen. As the leader, you want to be the person who establishes a collaborative solution when challenges inevitably arise.
To show your team that you’re open to their feedback, make yourself available to them. Have an open door policy and let your team know you’re there if they have any questions, concerns, or issues. Recognize that you also need to take the time to check in with each member of your team and step outside of your office to have a feel for what’s going on. You can’t be an effective leader if you haven’t first followed and are able to understand other points of view.
7. Be mindful
To support the other best practices, it’s important that you recognize your impact as the leader. Understand that your attitude day-to-day in the office affects your employees. In fact, your enthusiasm or lack thereof can determine the entire outlook of your business. You can use this to breed an office environment that is full of positivity, collaboration, and growth. Additionally, employees look for their leaders to be both confident and humble so keep that in mind.
8. Have fun
The last but certainly not the least important part of managing teams is to have fun! Remember that you’re the driving force for the company, and if you’re excited and having fun, it’s more likely that your team will be, too. Also, try to give yourself a break because you’re only human and you will make mistakes sometimes. It will be less stressful for you if you’re able to accept that, acknowledge those mistakes, and move forward. Arrive to the office excited to be there and work with your team and customers.
Follow Quiana’s best practices, and you’ll be able to actively manage your teams and navigate through this growth period. If you remember to stay humble and transparent, you’ll be successful. Best of luck!
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.