Let’s say you’ve recently transitioned from a management position in the corporate world to running your own small business. Being in charge of your own operation requires a different mindset on a variety of levels. You are now your own boss, and therefore, you’re responsible for every business decision—and mistake.
While the additional duties can seem overwhelming, you don’t have to let it interfere with how you manage your employees. It’s not like the traditional corporate environment, where many tasks are taken care of for you; a different approach is necessary. If you’re interested in learning how to manage small business employees effectively, read on.
Some Easy Tips to Manage Your Small Business’s Employees
1. Create an Employee Handbook
When your team has a handbook to reference, you’ll be able to manage them more effectively without wasting a lot of time. Even if you currently only have one employee, there’s a good chance you will eventually hire more, which is reason enough to create a handbook. Include in it information about company culture, and standards and expectations, along with your do’s and don’ts and their consequences. This can also help clarify how to deal with any number of employees going forward.
2. Be Flexible With Your Schedule
At a small business, you should have the ability to be more flexible with your schedule—especially in the startup phase. Be sure to pass that on to your team whenever you can. If you can allow certain employees to work nontraditional shifts or let them switch between daytime hours and nighttime work shifts, you’ll be able to manage them better because they’ll be happier.
Do you really need your staff to all work 9 to 5 every day? In today’s job market, many roles don’t require that schedule for the job unless it’s a brick-and-mortar business.
3. Offer Telecommuting
If you have jobs where work can be completed remotely, offer telecommuting—it’s been proven to give you much better employee retention rates. Your employees will love it, your overall business productivity might improve, and you could decrease office supply and energy consumption in the process. Again, a happier worker is typically much easier to manage.
As a side note, some businesses are now run 100% remotely, with employees based around the world, all working toward the common goal of the business’s success, growth, and prosperity. Typically, these businesses will hold team retreats somewhere in the world for a few weeks each year, bringing everyone together to collaborate and work on projects that they typically can’t address when everyone is at a different corner of the world working on their part of the business.
4. Use Performance Reviews
Though you might dislike completing performance reviews, they offer a key way to better manage your employees at your small business. Create your own list of questions based on current company goals and objectives, and get on a schedule for dispensing them. Be sure to allow employees time to comment on whatever may be bothering them.
Keep in mind that feedback shouldn’t just happen just once a year. Take a moment to put together a schedule that will allow you to check in and do performance reviews with your staff on a regular basis, whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Annual performance reviews are a known contributor to staff demoralization if they’re the only tool you use to check-in on employee morale and performance.
5. Make Sure Supplies Are on Hand
If your team doesn’t have the necessary supplies to get the job done, how can you manage them effectively? Bulk up your office supply budget and make sure your team has what they need to be effective at all times.
Something else you can do to ensure having the right supplies in your workplace is to put in place partnerships with the suppliers you might use—they typically offer some interesting incentives to make you into a long-term, returning customer.
6. Update Technology
If your computers are constantly breaking down or resetting, your office printer rarely works, or if faxes don’t always come through, take the steps to fix these problems immediately. Again, if your team has the necessary tools to complete their work, you’ll have fewer management issues to deal with. Most of your office equipment is tax-deductible, so the final cost may not be as high as you’d think.
Whether you’re managing a team of two or twenty, you have to adjust your management style to each of those working under you. Some folks might respond better to “in your face” criticism, while with others you might need to break out the kid gloves. Just be sure you’re adapting your management style to each individual worker, rather than expecting all of them to conform to yours. The end goal of whatever managing style you apply to have happy employees.
What other ways do you know of for small business owners to manage their employees more effectively?
About the author: James Moorley founded and sold two medium-sized companies and is currently working on his next business venture.