Small Business: "Managing Employees"
Working with small business clients we often see struggles between the owner and their employees. The owner is great at what they do, but managing others they often lack the training and skill-sets required. Managing others in conducting your business can be challenging if you let it. As a small business owner with employees you can improve the effectiveness of you as a manager and ensuring employees are productive, efficient and effective. Management/supervision can be summed up in three primary activities; 1. Set Clear Expectations; 2. Reinforce Expectations; 3. Be consistent.
Setting clear expectations for what you expect from employees is the foundation for ensuring they understand and are able to complete tasks and duties as you want them to be completed. Never assume that employees fully understand your expectations without an explanation and better, a demonstration. For example; an administrative assistant is asked to create a spreadsheet of recent sales. Be clear in giving directions by starting with, "This is what I want it to look like" - showing an example or sketching it out on a piece of paper. "This is where the information comes from to complete the spreadsheet." When possible, demonstrate how to complete a line or two of the spreadsheet then have them complete one while you watch and coach them through the process. Always remembers that a majority of your employees will want to complete the work as you want it be completed, just make sure they fully understand what is expected.
Reinforce expectations with employees that appear to deviate from the process, or fail to meet your expectations. Do this quickly, don't wait for them to completely fail before you become engaged with them. Use a coaching approach to help motivate the employee. This not only helps them do better, but you save time, money as you won't have to correct work that is not what you expected. Not taking quick actions to correct improper work allows employees to develop bad habits that will be more difficult for them to correct the longer they fail to perform their duties adequately. For example; one of business owners noticed that his receptionist would answer the phone with a nice and polite, "Hello" instead of providing the business name and asking, "How may I help you?". He approached her with a coaching mindset, "You are so polite in answering the phone. That's great. Remember when answering the phone to say "Hello" just like you are doing but remember to say our business name then ask how you can help them. He made sure to listen out for the next few calls to ensure she understood.
Be consistent in setting your expectations and reinforcing them. Inconsistency is the common mistake managers make when working with employees. Being inconsistent in setting and reinforcing expectations sends mixed signals to employees, making it difficult for them to ensure they are working appropriately. In our training we warn managers and supervisors that being consistent with all employees, all of the time, not only reinforces expectations, it creates a happier work environment. What better job to have than to clearly know what is required to be successful.
Setting clear expectations, reinforcing them and being consistent will help you avoid disciplinary actions which are never fun for the owner/manager or the employee. Also, this will ensure that your business maintains a great presence with your customers.
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