So far in our series on how to hire and manage we have discussed how and where to advertise a job posting, and how to interview and make an offer. Now that you have your new employee its time to start managing them, which is the topic of today’s article. So let’s get started!
At this stage of the game, you probably don’t have time to put things on hold and go back to school to learn how to be a good manager. Not to worry. In my experience the education system and most other resources make management way too complicated. If you focus on the 7 steps below, you will be way ahead of most managers, and will obtain rock star manager status in no time.
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Step 1: Work on and not in your business (and make the switch early)
The difference between being an employee and a business owner or manager, is that your job is to spend time finding the right people to fill roles, and then helping those people do the best job possible.
If you have a small business with just one or two employees, then you obviously don’t need to spend 100% of your time managing them. However, you should still devise a plan, and set aside specific time for bringing on new staff, and developing your existing staff. If you do not have a specific plan and set aside specific times of the workweek for staff management and development, then it will get pushed to the back burner by everyday tasks.
Make this switch early
Making the switch from the startup phase where Marc (my partner) and I did everything ourselves, to bringing on help, was difficult for me. However, luckily I had learned from my past management experience not to wait until we could no longer handle everything ourselves in order to bring in help.
Keep in mind that you are going to have to spend time training your new staff. This means that initially hiring is going to increase your workload, before your new employee is up to speed and can start taking things off your plate. This is why it is important to start hiring before your plate is 100% full.
Step 2: Spend a lot of time on the recruiting and hiring process.
Another reason to make the switch early is that the recruitment and hiring process is very time consuming when done right. All too often business owners and managers treat the hiring process like it’s an unproductive use of their time that could be used to do other things that directly impact the bottom line, like selling.
Think about it this way though. A full time employee is going to be spending somewhere around 2000 hours a year (40 hours a week X 50 weeks) working with you. So even if you are spending a full week’s worth of work on hiring an employee, that is only 2% of the time that that employee is going to be working for you.
Not sure where to find employees? We recommend checking out Indeed, the #1 job board for small businesses. Click here for a free $50 credit to post your job on Indeed.
Step 3: Have A Clearly Defined Strategy
No matter how good the team, if they do not know where they are supposed to be going then it is unlikely that they are going to get there. In addition to having effort wasted in areas that are not core to your business, the realization that a business owner or manager doesn’t have a well throughout strategy is demoralizing to your employees.
The opposite is also true however. A well defined strategy is extremely motivating. It keeps everyone on the same page and the team moving in the direction that you want them to go like a well oiled machine.
For more on how to put together a strategy for your business see our article 10 Steps To A Great Business Plan.
Step 4: Have Clearly Defined Goals For The Company, Team(s), and Each Member of the Team
The strategic plan is all about the longer term goals and mission of the company. To reach those goals and execute on that mission, you also need short to medium term goals. This is true for the company as a whole as well as for each individual within the firm. For larger businesses this may also include goals for specific teams or divisions within the organization.
In our business we have goals that we want each individual and the company to accomplish each week, quarter, and year. You want your goals to be aligned with your overall strategy, and to be SMART, which stands for:
Specific – The goal is not “to increase sales” it’s “to increase sales by 5% by a specific date”
Measurable – If the goal is not something like sales that can be directly measured, there at least needs to be an indicator of success.
Attainable – Has to be realistic.
Relevant – Needs to be aligned with the business’s overall strategy.
Time-Bound – The goal isn’t just “to increase sales by 5%” its “to increase sales by 5% by a specific date”.
Feedback is also taken much better when it comes in the context of progress towards goals. If everyone knows what is expected of them then it should be obvious when someone is doing a good or poor job, and the appropriate feedback can be given.
Step 5: Communicate
You can have the best strategy and goal setting practices in the world, but they are useless if they are not communicated to everyone at the company. At Marc Waring Ventures we have meetings each monday where we cover progress on our goals from the previous week, and discuss the goals for the coming week. Once a month we also discuss progress on our longer term goals.
As we discuss in our article “10 Steps to A Great Business Plan” strategy should be recorded in a keynote or powerpoint slide deck, shared with every employee, and updated when changes are made.
If the business is not going well or a mistake has been made and strategy needs to be changed, then be honest. As long as you have a plan for resolving the issue, or changing the strategy, (and communicate that to your staff) they will appreciate the candor and openness.
Step 6: Solicit Feedback
Employees are much more likely to buy into the overall strategy of the company, and the goals being set, if they are involved in the process of developing them. They are also much more likely to remain motivated through the good and the bad times if they are encouraged to bring their concerns, and their ideas for how the business can be improved, to you.
This does not mean that you need to act on every piece of feedback that you receive. The main thing is that the employee knows you have considered their feedback, and why you have chosen a particular course of action.
Step 7: Be Decisive
Ultimately it is the manager’s job to make the decisions. There are so many unknowns when running a business that it is impossible to know with 100% certainty that you are making the right decision. Once you have made a decision however, stick to it until there is hard evidence that it is not the correct course of action. When that happens reassess, communicate, and then choose the next course of action.
What questions do you have about management that we have not talked about in this article? Do you have some experience that you think will help others become better managers? Let us know in the comments section below. Also be sure to stay read the next article in this series where we discuss how to design an employee compensation plan.
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