Running a business and being a good manager are two very different things. Regardless of the size of your business or the industry you’re in, your personnel play a key role in the success of your enterprise. If you want to make the most of your staff’s professional abilities, it’s worth spending some time defining your own role in motivating their performance to be the best it can be.
Given the many demands on the small business owner’s time, it’s not uncommon for the development of managerial skills to fall to the bottom of the priority pile. But efficient personnel management is one of the most cost-effective ways to vastly improve your company’s bottom line.
So offload what’s keeping you busy to that outsourced bookkeeper or web designer, and turn your attention to the matter at hand. Dynamic management skills can quickly become habit if they’re practiced regularly with an easy-to-remember mantra like, “Stop, Look & Listen.”
This is usually the most challenging part of improving management skills for the busy entrepreneur. But you can’t become a productive, hands-on manager without stopping what you’re doing now and then to assess what’s going on around you. Taking the time out of your busy day to chat with and get a read on your employees will go a long way toward improving your business’s performance, and preventing problems before they can happen.
A discontented staff member should be viewed as a potential warning. So make a point of engaging your team members in a neutral environment, both individually and in a group setting, in order to stay on top of what’s important to them. Pulse checks like this show your staff that their opinions matter, and demonstrate that your business is ready to benefit from taking their field-level input into account.
Sometimes the feedback you need most as a manager comes from looking instead of talking. By observing your personnel for signs of what’s working from a business perspective and what isn’t, you’ll be better positioned to make the most of your team’s diverse talents, including their:
- Individual work styles,
- work habits, and their
- unique personalities
Rather than approaching your staff as a one-size-fits-all entity, watch how individuals act and react in terms of the tasks and projects they’re assigned. From the low-key and detail-oriented, to the high energy extroverts, every employee has something valuable to offer, especially when they’re given the opportunity to offer it in the way that works best for them.
Check out this employee page for an example of a company working for its employees.
It’s been widely recognized that the sense of “being heard” is a key factor in the success of any relationship – and that includes the relationship between you and your employees. When your staff feels their feedback is unacknowledged, or that it’s simply unsolicited in the first place, it can lead to resentment and a real lack of desire to perform to the best of their abilities.
In much the same way that your business should be regularly asking for, and actively following up on, customer reviews, you should be taking advantage of a similar methodology to bring out the best in your employees. Think in terms of:
- relevant and thought-provoking surveys,
- anonymous “suggestion boxes”, and
- interactive staff meetings
These are simple and cost-free ways to significantly improve both the internal workings of your company, and your personal performance as a proactive manager.
Once you’ve become adept at including your team as a productive part of the business process, be sure to also include them in its success. It’s a great idea to get in the habit of showing your staff how much you value their efforts and professional contributions by regularly rewarding them for a job well done.
Research shows that managerial praise and opportunities to grow professionally are consistently ranked higher than financial perks by the average employee, so don’t worry if your business can’t afford that cash bonus or pay hike. When a client passes along their sincere appreciation for what you do, don’t hesitate to gather your team and share the kudos with them. You might even want to spring for the pizza while you’re at it.