Question: I am good at my craft, but I have never managed people before. I now have six people working for me in my home remodeling business. What tips do you have to get the highest performance from them?
Answer: Every member of your team is different. Therefore you have to spend time with each of them to get to know what motivates them to get out of bed each day so you can adapt your management style to supervise them appropriately. Here are some thoughts that might work for you:
Hire slowly and choose the right people for your team. Make sure they understand your vision and the objectives you have set for your business. You need to provide them with clear directions, training and then let them do their work. Think of each employee on your team as a valued subcontractor – a professional responsible for getting their tasks done efficiently and on time.
Give them feedback regularly. Be an active listener. Make it a 360 Degree Evaluation where they are an active part of the appraisal so they can give you feedback about how they perceive they are being managed, as well as you sharing your impressions of their performance.
Try not to micromanage them. Give them direction, set the expectations, provide the appropriate training then get out of the way. Check in on your team periodically, pay attention to the results and give feedback.
Managing is a skill, and sometimes it is necessary to get help. Your local SCORE chapter and Chamber of Commerce Small Business Development organization are sources of help if you are struggling with team management. Get yourself a SCORE mentor to coach you in developing your team.
Make sure your team knows who the boss is – the customer. Being customer focused makes for an effective team. As a small business, word of mouth (WOM) is the most effective marketing you can do. If customers perceive your team as being customer first, that gets communicated to others who will be new business for your enterprise.
Get input from your team. When making a decision about a new product or service offering, about a change in policy or approach or making a change in direction, ask your team for their input. When you make the decision in a vacuum, you are not taking advantage of the first line communicators – your team. By getting their input, you are getting buy-in from the get-go.
Show your team, don’t just tell them. Lead by example. Be firm, but fair in all of your actions.
Strive for continuous improvement. If you ever get complacent, your business will suffer. Look for improvement in some way, some place, every day.
Hire employees that are smarter than you. Surround yourself with team members that are thinkers, innovators and visionaries. They don’t have to be sophisticated, but have skills and ideas and are willing to share them with you so you are constantly looking beyond today for what “can be” tomorrow.