SCORE Column: Be a more effective manager
I was surprised to find that many of the entrepreneurs with whom I work literally hate managing employees, and as a result, the business fails or doesn’t grow as it should. Theses tips may help.
Do you enjoy managing/leading your employees?
As a SCORE mentor, I was surprised to find that many of the entrepreneurs with whom I work literally hate this part of owning a business and, as a result, the business fails or doesn’t grow as it should. It is the responsibility of all business owners to grow their business and to do so requires hiring staff.
Growth is important because
- Increasing your customer base makes you less vulnerable to competition and economic downturn.
- Growth requires continued innovation in your product line, business process and new products.
- You will have Increased cash flow and profits. The company will be stronger financially.
- You can hire talented people to do the jobs you most dislike to do and spend your time on the “fun” stuff and family.
Every organization has a leader. That’s what you signed on for when you made that wonderful decision to live your dream. Accept that fact and don’t default leadership to somebody else. I always liked one of the mantras my Mom taught us, “If you’re paying the piper, you get to call the dance.” Who more than you is going to pay the piper?
Techniques to be more effective
Here are some techniques that have helped people I’ve mentored be more effective.
Know where you want to go. Put your vision in writing. Describe what the organization will look like at the end of 2023, 2026 and 2028. What is the ideal status of the organization at each of those dates? Next write your mission, why you are in business and what makes you better than the competition.
These statements should be precise, crisp, and no more than a sentence or two. And finally, what are your values and how you and your employees treat each other and all others and share them with your team. Be consistent and unyielding in following these three documents. Only you can write these three statements. It’s your dream and commitment.
Hire the right people. Your interviewing process has three goals: 1) can the person do the job, 2) does the person want to do the job and, 3) most importantly, will the person fit into the culture of the business?
If you make a mistake, get the person out of the company as soon as possible. I’ve had great mentors in my career and one of the early ones counseled me to remember I’m not God and can’t be the savior of my employees. I can be empathetic and helpful when I can but it is up to each of us to manage and take responsibility for our own lives. For me, following that guideline was a stress reliever and timesaver.
Have and follow diligently a written business plan. The Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota has a great template — no more than 12 pages plus three pages of financials. Identify and prioritize key result indicators that need to be done to hit your target, the benefits from each, and when they’re to be finished. Assign the key result indicators to those in the organization who have the talent and will agree to accomplish the goal. Don’t assign more than three to one person.
Create a one-page graphic that lists these key indicators on a road leading to a picture that identifies success. You will find this to be a wonderful document that can be shared with the team and be the basis of regular productive discussions.
Learn to be a communicator and to be visible. Develop a database that gives you the information you need to follow the plan. You can share a lot of data without giving away confidential information. If you identify your personal key result indicators and measure the business's process with reliable data, your conversation with employees will be less confronting, biased toward training your staff and provide an opportunity to give appreciation. Follow the KISS process, Keep It Simple Stupid. The biggest part of communication is listening to understand. You listen with both your ears and eyes and summarize what you’re hearing before going forward.
Learning to be a manager and leader is a learned process. We all develop our own style because we need to be legitimate to ourselves and employees. That style will change with your intent to grow professionally and with experience. There will be bumps in the road but that’s part of being human. You’re paying the piper, learn to enjoy leading the dance. SCORE is here to help.
Contact SCORE at www.score.org , Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-251-4413.
As a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE - which offers free business mentoring and education -- notes the organization has helped more than 11 million entrepreneurs through mentoring, workshops and educational resources since 1964. The nonprofit SCORE was previously known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives.