Small Business Management : Making the Most of Employees

Small business management is all about getting the most from your employees – we've got some management advice to help you do just that.

Managing employees is one of the key weaknesses we’ve often observed in startup entrepreneurs. Company founders can be so wrapped up in their vision, that their so-called “people skills” suffer. It’s a common small business management failing.

Employees will be crucial to the success of your business. But getting them to do what you want can be a struggle. Plus, keeping up with legal, tax and other employer responsibilities is tough.

Dealing with people issues

How can an entrepreneurs get good results without “micro-managing” every detail? And what’s a good place to get answers to HR questions as they arise? Any business owner with employees must deal with “people” issues every day. As your company’s top executive and Human Resources (HR) manager, you are the one responsible for making it all function smoothly.

But that’s not easy, given the long list of laws and regulations governing your dealings with employees. And the legal aspects are just the beginning. Applying proper small business management skills can be an even bigger obstacle. For example, most business owners have delegated work to an employee, only to find a finished task or product that’s nothing like what they envisioned. In most such cases, the culprit is simply poor communication.

Six keys to improving communication and getting the best from your staff

  • Direct, personal contact: With today’s time-saving tech, it’s tempting to manage by e-mail. But would you try to close a deal with a big customer by e-mail? Biz owners who know full well that personal contact is the key to closing sales sometimes choose to manage their own employees from a distance. Direct contact builds rapport and trust.
  • Clear instructions: Don’t assume that everyone understands the mission as you do and is ready to take action. Employees may not be as ensconced in the details of your business. Instead of asking if instructions are understood, ask what specific steps the person will take to complete the task.
  • Tact and empathy: Constant criticism can be de-motivating. By highlighting the positive and correcting mistakes without getting personal, employees are more likely to deliver what you want.
  • Take the time: Sure you are busy and have a hundred other things to do. But if you want good results from employees, you can’t forget that part of being a manager is managing. Carve out some time for one-on-one as well as group meetings. Offer your undivided attention to demonstrate to others that they are a priority in your business.
  • Listen a little more: Solicit suggestions from employees on how work is done, and treat their concerns seriously.
  • Provide consistent feedback: Some biz owners don’t tell employees what they are doing right or wrong during the course of the year, and then at annual review time they drop bombshells on the unwary. People want the opportunity to develop and improve. So provide constructive, on-the-job feedback on situations as they arise.

Our Bottom Line:

Improving people management skills is one of the most useful steps many entrepreneurs can take in their quest to build a growing, thriving business. Finding good people is only one step in the process. Getting them to come through for your business is what really counts.

© 2005 BizBest Media Corp.

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