When you open your own small business, it really does become your baby. Many small business owners these days truly do start from the ground up. Many have to fund their projects themselves, since bank loans are a lot more difficult to get than they were about 5-10 years ago. Due to the time & effort, sweat & tears that a small business owner puts into their company, occasionally little things can fall to the wayside because they are so focused on success. Being focused on success is not a bad thing at all though; it’s a wonderful thing. However, ignoring the little things can create difficulties that can sink your business regardless of how hard you try. Therefore, here are four management tips for small business owners to help them remember the importance of the little things.
1. The Sandwich Compliment – Sometimes small business owners are so focused on a sales goal or projects that when an employee makes a mistake, they simply lash out at them, often making the employee feel as if they are being attacked (which is far from the truth.) Everyone becomes frustrated, but it’s all about how you handle it. If your employee makes a mistake, call them in for a private meeting and use what is often referred to as the sandwich compliment (something positive, followed by something negative, then something positive again.) This can be as simple as, “Joe, we are so thrilled to have you on our team. We did notice though that you did not make your sales quota this month, and that is something we cannot tolerate on a regular basis. However, we know you are a great salesman and you can turn this around.” This way, the employee doesn’t leave feeling upset and knows you have confidence in them.
2. Practice What You Preach – As a small business owner, you should be the one taking charge of your business. As your company grows, it’s possible to lose sight of this and start to think you already have it all figured out and just need to sit back and watch the cash roll in. Remember that your employees will mimic your behavior though. If they feel the office environment is incredibly lax because you take a lot of vacations, pass off work to others or rarely show up to the job site, assuming it will run itself, employees will assume this is fine and follow suit. A good way to circumvent this potential issue is to not only follow your own rules, but if you do need to be away most of the time, appoint a person you trust to keep everyone else in line.
3. Accountability is Key – With the economic downturn, most employees are desperate to keep their jobs. They may even try to pass blame onto other employees for their own mistakes. Make sure you create a very clear chain of command that shows employees that even if Susan made the mistake, Jane was in charge of her, so Jane is responsible for not guiding Susan in the right direction. On the other hand though, if Susan continues to make mistakes under Jane’s guidance, be sure to evaluate both Jane’s managerial skills and Susan’s ability to follow them. This way you can tell if Jane is really doing everything she can, or if Susan may simply not be the right person for the job.
4. Keep Everyone on the Same Page; Mix Things up When Necessary – Be sure to have regular staff meetings with your employees and let them know what is going on with sales, business, new products, etc. This will keep them involved and happy. If possible, create an expense account so that you can buy a simple breakfast for these meetings just as a thank you to your employees for their hard work and loyalty. If your employees are not on the ball and you feel you have taken every opportunity to guide them in the right direction, mix things up and give someone else a project that you would have normally given the senior employee. Often, long-term employees can become complacent and think they are impenetrable. Keep them on their toes and show them that the really hard-working new kid in the office has the opportunity to usurp their job at any moment. This helps keep all employees functioning at their highest capacity.