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How to manage a larger team of tradespeople

Reading time: 3 minutes

Whether you're just taking on an apprentice or hiring more workers to meet demand, managing people can be one of the more challenging parts of running a trade business...

Moving from being a lone operator comes with the potential to unlock growth for your business - but it can also come with headaches if you don’t get the basics rights.

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, building a great company culture doesn't happen overnight. It’s a learning process and at first you’ll probably get as much wrong as you get right.

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There are a few golden rules to consider in order to make sure you’re getting the best from people as you’re scaling up:

  • Set the tone - You're the leader, so you chose what kind of manager you want to be. If you can balance fair, firm and considerate when it comes to your business and the people in it, that’s a great start.
  • Share your vision - Make sure you’re clear on what your vision is for your company and how you plan to realise it. That way you can check your team is on track to help you achieve your objective.
  • Communicate your plans - Be open and honest about your plans and what people can expect working with you.
  • Listen - Your team are your eyes and ears, so let them know you're listening and open to feedback so they feel they also have a voice. Two-way dialogue can help you spot opportunities, overcome difficulties as you grow and help create a loyal team.
  • Lean in - If problems come up, don't ignore them. A proactive, open approach means resentment is less likely to build up.
  • Aim for respect - People talk about their bosses, and not always in a positive way. That’s to be expected - you can’t be friends with everyone if you're the boss. Create the right culture and aim for mutual respect so that hopefully chatter will be more good than bad.
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Practical tips for day to day team management

Off-the-tools - Try to encourage a team spirit off-site as well as on it; whether it’s paying for a few beers in the pub or organising a day out - ensuring it’s not all work, work, work generally goes down well.
Regular check-ins - Most of us want to be recognised and feel part of something. You can use different techniques, from informal chats once a month to more structured one-to-one check-ins where you can offer encouragement and listen to feedback.
Keeping in contact - These days there are plenty of ways to keep your team updated. An increasingly popular way is by using messenger apps like WhatsApp, so everyone knows what's happening on a job.

Striking a balance between the goals of your business and the people you hire really matters if you want to create a place people love to work. Ideally all those goals will be in alignment, but it can take time to make that happen. In short, if you run your business with your head, but lead with your heart, you’ll stand a good chance of getting it right.

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