Avoid These Management Blunders

March 23, 2017

Perhaps, there is no harder work than being a small business or SME owner or manager. Much of the time, it seems it is a 24 hour, seven day a week job...with heaps of stress added in for good measure. Owners (meaning managers also) are expected to carry a heavy load of decision making, motivating, mentoring, planning, hiring, and leading. The future of the business greatly depends on their decision-making and vision for the future.

With so much to do and little time to get everything done, it is quite common for owners of small businesses and SMEs to make some common management blunders. The following areas are prone for typical missteps that can be avoided with forethought and practice:

Leadership - Some people have natural management and leadership traits while others have to practice and perfect managing and leading. Although most owners know the technical aspects of their business well, this does not mean that they have mastered the art of effective managing. While some owners are natural strong leaders, others fall into the category of being conflict averse. They seek to avoid employee conflict situations whenever possible, which in itself has a tendency to produce conflict and underperformance. Owners who do not know how to manage must take it upon themselves through colleague mentoring or development programs to learn the proper ways to manage.

Delegation - In small businesses, owners frequently think it is more efficient and time saving to personally perform some tasks themselves rather than delegating the jobs to employees. As a small business or SME grows, this philosophy stymies growth both for the business and employees. Owners should concentrate on leadership, planning, mentoring, and other high-level tasks. Delegating and employee training is a key to efficiency that must be practiced.

Priorities - For small businesses and SMEs, it seems at times that decision-making is a byproduct of crisis management going from one priority to another. Although this might be the norm, shifting priorities confuses and frustrates everyone in the business. It is difficult for employees to be focused on certain jobs or projects when the next day or following week, the emphasis is placed elsewhere. There is no question that priorities can change in a small business, but it is imperative for owners to clearly articulate objectives that align with the goals of the business and stay on course as much as possible. Practicing consistency is a key in developing strong employee commitment.

Oversight - While some owners fail to delegate, others keep a constant watch overseeing and shadowing employees. Although supervision is important, constant oversight shows a lack of confidence and trust in employees while triggering performance anxiety. This atmosphere eventually leads to poor work quality. Oversight can still be maintained but with quiet observation. Overly protective owners need to work on minimizing what amounts to oversight overload.

Communication - When there are a so many things for an owner of a small business or SME to do daily, it is easy to forgot one of the most important aspects of managing...communication. An informed workforce is a productive workforce. Informing employees on important issues and having an open-door policy let employees know they are important. It is worth the effort to properly communicate with all employees.

Management blunders are certain to happen but should be the exception rather than the rule. Operating a small business or SME is no easy task but cannot be an excuse for poor management performance. Employees are expected to achieve certain results with few blunders. The same applies for owners and managers.