Let’s face the truth! People management is a huge issue for most small business owners. And the best solution for this issue is effective leadership.
Most business founders are not great managers by nature. Do they have to learn management? Maybe. But it is better to learn how to master effective leadership.
A company structure that motivates its staff to climb the corporate ladder, and be managers regardless of the overall productive spirit, will eventually be full of bossy people. Making less fortunate employees, who couldn’t become bosses, less productive. Then eventually losing loyalty and sense of ownership.
This will result in making regular employees, tending to be in your company only for the paycheck, instead of helping the company reaches its goals.
The ideal model in my perspective, is a company with a great leader, and this leader helps, inspires and motivates employees. And by time creates more leaders in the company.
This is a culture that makes a small business stands from the crowd.
Now, Let me share with you some tips and thoughts about effective leadership
As a founder of a small business, you have to create or adopt an operating system for the company’s daily operations, performance review, compensation, hiring and firing …etc. Then let it run and focus on the company growth and the effective leadership part.
A good example is Holacracy, which is a management system adopted by Zappos.
In Holacracy, there are no bosses, only self-organized, self managed employees and “leaders” called lead links. Departments or teams are formed into self-managed and self-organized circles, each parent circle sets the goals, and purpose, for child circles to meet. But there is no micro management. How cool is that!
Your small business will eventually run and grow as a city as per Tony Hsieh.
Every employee will work as an entrepreneur, with creativity and sense of ownership in mind, to serve the circle he is assigned to. Each circle will act as a sub-company, which is doing its best to serve the organization, and meet its goals in a harmonized way.
Compare this to traditional management models. New employees often do their best to prove themselves. Some of them will be promoted and some will not, simply because they are either non-competent, or didn’t satisfy the “bosses” requirements to be promoted.
What about the “amazing” employees who get promoted. Wait until they feel comfortable, or reach the end of their corporate ladder ,whether they deserve this or not, they will become new bosses. They will keep treating every subordinate as a lower level staff, who should follow the orders without argument.
Replace Bosses with Leaders
Of course I am not talking here about sane and humble managers, who honestly work to meet the company goals. Good managers who are at the same time helping, and mentoring younger employees to do their job better. In other words. I am talking about bosses, not leaders.
I have worked during my past years of running a business with full-time, part-time and remote employees known as freelancers. And I discovered that the most efficient and productive employees, are the ones who have self-organizing and self-management skills.
At the same time, I struggled with people who didn’t have those key skills. So, instead of focusing on the job related training and tasks. I wasted a lot of time managing their own time and priorities.
Micro-management is awful and I am not a micro-manager by nature. So, I believe you understand my feelings when someone can’t fully complete a task without consistent and deeply detailed follow-up.
It is tolerable in the training phase, but if an employee can’t value time and doesn’t know how to set priorities for himself although that he knows the task very well. Then you have made the wrong hire.
So, here is a proactive tip to avoid hiring the wrong people.
Hire The Right People Slowly
First of all. The main solution to people management issue, is to be very careful in hiring. Choose the skills I mentioned above before anything else.
Some people aren’t organized and can’t be taught to be. So, you might waste your time hiring and training an employee, because you think that you can teach him how to be organized, and self-managed. Later you will discover that you have made a mistake and wasted money as well.
I used to hire fast and fire slow, and this kept my business in the survival phase for a long time and I couldn’t grow quickly. Because eventually I was doing everything by myself, hiring, training, planning, organizing and setting priorities for everyone, leading to the stress of firing or letting go the useless resources.
Now, I have learnt to follow the opposite direction, hire slow and fire fast.
Your team is a major part of your company success, so be careful while you are building your team.
Motivate Entrepreneurial Spirit by embracing creativity and sense of ownership
Some may argue that, “why should I hire employees who aim to be future entrepreneurs. I will be wasting time, and money, training people who aren’t loyal to my business”.
But here is the thing. If you don’t believe in your business purpose, how can you convince others to believe in it and be loyal.
The opposite is true, a company with great core values, and an inspiring purpose, will eventually attract all great minds to join it.
Here is quote by Richard Branson “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”.
And I truly believe in that. Whether or not they have entrepreneurial mindset, they will dream to be part of the company mission.
At the same time, lots of people may have entrepreneurial mindset, but they aren’t always dishonest, disloyal people who will steal your customers and run away.
Hiring good people with entrepreneurial mindset is your job, and you will be the one responsible for losing them as well.
I am talking here about honest employees who will leave to pursue their dreams without harming your business by any means.
Most of the time people with this mindset leave companies, because they didn’t feel sense of ownership, and their creative skills weren’t allowed to see light inside the organization. Because of the “bosses” I mentioned earlier. Or, because the company culture itself doesn’t allow this.
So, if you want to have a business with great employees, who wake up everyday with strong motivations to push your company forward, then you have to encourage creativity and sense of ownership. Every employee should own something. A project, a task or even a marketing channel.
Lead By Example
A true leader is the one who has been there, and is still there. How?
Imagine if Steve jobs was the founder and CEO of Apple, acting as a traditional manager who signs papers and attend board meetings, without any participation in the projects of the company. Do you think Apple would be the same as it is today?
You have to be everywhere you can add value to your business. Not as a boss or micro-manager. But as a true leader, mentor, help, provide ideas, create workshops. You should be an inspiration to everyone in your company.
On Job Training
If you have reached this far in reading. you know that you should set the operating system, hire the right people with entrepreneurial mindset, become an inspiring leader to them. Now, it is time to talk about training.
Here is the fact that a lot of small business owners ignore. Training without relevancy to the job is “useless”.
If you want to give a training course to an employee, just to follow an HR policy in your company, or just because the employee wants to have it, you are wasting time and money.
You have to create an efficient training system for your small business. True on job training, not an academic one with a nice looking certificate of attendance.
The solution to this is to create a training team, this team is responsible about hiring the right trainers internally, and externally, with customized training plans, and courses that are serving the purpose of the company.
Don’t leave this for the employee’s own judgment. There should be a dedicated team for this with members who know exactly what they are doing.
Kill Negativity By Being A Positive Leader
Negativity is an infectious disease, it spreads quickly in the environment, and ruins everything on its way.
Sometimes negative people pass through the hiring process because they know how to fake the positive spirit. Then, under the least amount of stress, they become very negative people.
A productive team can’t tolerate negative people. So, to protect your team, you have to be positive at all time as a leader. And isolate any negativity outside the team, till you get it fixed or fired.
If in tough times,you feel negativity yourself. You shouldn’t share it with your team. Because maybe, as a business owner with big dreams, you can be cured from negativity overnight.
But your employees might not share the same dreams, so they might get frustrated, and less productive even after you lose the negativity you shared.
Negativity Can Destroy A Business
You should have high level of transparency with negative people. Watch trends to act once it starts.
For example, if you detect an employee who is always complaining, and blaming everyone for his mistakes or low productivity, have a meeting with him.
State clearly that you will do whatever possible, to solve the causes of his negative energy. If the employee is willing to solve the issue, start with an action plan. If not, then ask him to leave nicely.
To Sum Up These Effective Leadership Tips
As a small business owner, you are not running an army with soldiers who just follow orders. You are building a business in a very competitive environment. Your business should be fed with creativity and innovation all the time, to stand out from the crowd.
From my perspective, this can be easily done if you have a team of self-driven, self-managed and self-organized employees who believe in your business goals and mission.
Hire people with the right mindset, put an operating system in place that help them be their best, and fight negativity and solve issues as quickly as possible.
Be a great leader, and don’t be the one every body hates, the boss!
If you have any comments, thoughts or value you want to add, please do in the comments below.