One of the competitive advantages you have as a small business is that you can tailor jobs to individuals fairly easily, something that is much more difficult for a large corporation. When the job is matched well to the individual, the level of performance rises, job satisfaction increases and your employees are more likely to stay with you.
That said, most small business managers find it to be very difficult to actually put the above into practice. Actively managing your people to obtain the potential benefits is hard work for managers who have had no training in how to do this.
The word manager, according to some sources, comes from a corruption of “man-in-charge” and was applied to the man who was supervising large typing pools when type-writers first came into common business use. His job was to make sure that the people came in on time, worked solidly except for their breaks and produced at an acceptable level of competence. If they didn’t, they were disciplined. Many managers still see their role in a similar light but, what was effective when supervising typists, breaks down when managing employees who have much more complex jobs.
A good, well-trained and up-to-date manager today is not a supervisor and doesn’t use discipline except as a last resort. He is rather a coach, a mentor and a guide: a coach because he knows how the game is played and shows the employee how to help the team win; a mentor because he will help the employee understand why things are the way they are and why that’s OK; and a guide because he will show the employee the route to personal success. If the team doesn’t win, the employee doesn’t understand or if he fails, it is the manager who must look at his approach to find out what went wrong. The old approach, where we got rid of the employee and tried again with a new one is very wasteful and costly in today’s economy and a small business which has that approach will not be successful.
Therefore a successful small business manager treats their employees as part of the team. They recognize the unique skill set each member brings to the team and fosters a collaborative environment to drive the business towards success.
If you find that you are struggling to adapt as a small business manager it is worth taking a step back and asking how you would like to be treated if you were an employee. If you reflect on that for a moment I am sure you will agree that being yelled at or pushed to breaking point never made you productive. In fact, it probably had the opposite effective.
In addition, you need to instill this same management style into your team leaders and senior staff. There is no point you managing people this way if the 2IC below you takes a completely different approach. With your management team all on the same page you can assure yourself that the productivity and performance gains you are seeking from your staff have a strong chance of coming through.