Manage the Right Way

February 17, 2022

If you’re going to manage, then you need to manage the right way. Certainly, managing a small business or SME is a difficult task, but that is no excuse for not being a good manager. Managing must still be done correctly in order to achieve positive results. At times, it might seem as though it is a 24-hour, seven day a week job with heaps of stress added in for good measure. Owners, managers, and directors are expected to carry a heavy load of decision-making, motivating, mentoring, planning, and leading. The future of the business greatly depends on management’s ability and vision for the future.

With so much to do, little time to get everything done, and perhaps lack of managerial experience, it is quite common for small business and SME managers to make some everyday 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 and small business managers know the technical aspects of their businesses well, this does not mean that they have mastered the art of effective managing. While some individuals are natural strong leaders, others fall into the category of being conflict averse. They seek to avoid conflict situations whenever possible, which in itself tends to produce even more conflict and underperformance. 

Typical traits and an easy way for this type of leader to manage are:

•    Do nothing

•    Hope customers are satisfied

•    Do not expect high results

•    Communicate as little as possible

On the flip side, a more difficult but positive approach to managing is:

•    Be actively involved

•    Oversee employees, mentor, and train

•    Insist on top quality customer service

•    Set objectives and expect results

•    Communicate constantly with all levels of employees

Delegation – In small businesses and SMEs, owners and managers 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 and management trait stymies growth both for the business and employees. Management 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 management 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 and managers 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. 

Communication – When there are so many things for management of a small business or SME to do daily, it is easy to forgot one of the most important aspects of managing, which is communication. Informed employees are motivated and productive employees. Equally important is for management to have an open-door policy regarding communication. Employees then know they are important.

Strong Management Presence

When there is a strong management presence, employees demonstrate a stronger commitment to the business, their individual jobs, and to customers. This pattern is evident whether a business is a sole proprietorship where the owner is basically management or in a larger organization with multiple layers of management. 

For a small business or SME to grow and prosper as much as possible, management must be involved and manage efficiently. All managers must practice good management principles all the time. If employees are expected to give their best to the business day in and day out, management's duty is to do the same. 

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