You run a small business and you can’t help but notice that you are not getting the most out of some of your employees.
Are they not motivated? Do they just not seem to get the required work? Have you found them to be different from when you first hired them? Do you suspect that some of them are looking for other work?
If you have to ask yourself any or all of these questions, perhaps it is time to take a look in the mirror. As it just might stand, perhaps you are the problem?
Avoid Bringing Out the Worst in Employees
While there is no doubt that many small businesses will come across lackluster employees at times, oftentimes the problem stems from the management on down. Whether you deliberately do it or not, your management skills may in fact be bringing out the worst in some employees.
If you are relatively new to managing a small business keep these items in mind:
- Most employees work best when motivated — What are you doing to motivate your workers? Are you providing them with bonus opportunities or flexible hours? Have you complimented them on their work recently? Do you take a genuine interest in how they are going about their work or do you view them more like just a number and not a person?
- Micromanaging does not yield results — It is safe to say that nothing positive comes out of micromanaging workers. Not only is it condescending to those employees, but you oftentimes will lose their interest. Micromanaging for those that do not know the symptoms can include such tactics as continuously overseeing an employee’s work, asking them to provide hourly updates of what they are doing to the point where they sometimes feel smothered, and always questioning what they’re doing and how they are going about it. Don’t get me wrong, managers need to be authoritative and be in control of the situation, just not to the point where they become overbearing. I worked for a micromanager a decade or so ago and I can safely say that it was one of the worst work experiences I ever had. This individual seemed to take pleasure in making workers around her miserable. Her constant negative comments involving how workers went about their duties eventually wore down even the toughest of us. In the end, the company’s owner pulled the plug on this individual, leading to a lot of happy workers at the end of the day.
- Screaming won’t get you anywhere — I have worked for a number of different managers over a 23-year career to date, some really good ones, along with some really bad ones. The best ones were those individuals that looked to solve problems, not make them worse. Yelling or being demonstrative to employees gets everyone nowhere. While you may feel better blowing off a little steam, you’ve essentially now alienated the person you’ve screamed at and still need to finish the job.
- Treat workers as you would like to be treated — The old idea that you should treat people just as you’d want to be treated is right on. Put yourself in the worker’s position for a moment and decide if you would want someone standing over you all day in the office, being confrontational instead of supportive, and treating you like you were inferior to them. If you find yourself not comfortable when receiving such treatment, don’t turn around and do it to those under you.
- You’re all on the same team— From the head of the company all the way down to the intern, everyone is on the same team when all is said and done. While managers do need to set themselves apart from the other workers, you all have the same goal, making the company prosperous. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team.
- Everyone is held accountable —If you’re managing a small office, set the tone from day one that you expect to be held accountable for your actions too.
Managing an entire small business is not rocket science. Unfortunately, however, too many individuals make it out to be harder than it really is.
If your managing skills are coming into question, it may be time to re-evaluate why you started your business in the first place. Remember, in order for your business to grow you will need other people to work in it other than you.
How have you grown your management skills?
Dave Thomas, who discusses subjects such as business plan software and incorporation services, writes extensively for San Diego-based Business.com.