Monday, August 6, 2012

To grow your business, you've got to get the people management stuff right

people management skillsIf your goal is to grow and expand your business, then one of the skills you may need to further dvelop is learning how to manage and motivate the staff who work with you.

  • It all starts with finding the right people

As your business grows, you find that continued success is less about you and more about the quality of the team that you have surrounded yourself with.

Hopefully, you have taken time and care in recruiting the right people. There can often be a temptation during times of business growth to rush and just get the job filled with anyone

But it's not just about the skills and experience a person might bring to your business, it's also about their personal qualities. Very likely, you  look for people who seem to possess a good work ethic, appear capable of showing some initiative and have a friendly disposition, so they will get along both with your customers and their co-workers.

  • Make sure new staff are properly trained

Frequently over the years, I have seen too many business owners and managers neglect the importance of ensuring that adequate time is allocated to properly training their new staff. They seem to forget that what is easy for them is completely foreign to their new employee.

The first 3 to 4 weeks for a new employee is a critical time in determining whether they form good working habits and develop a sound grasp of your procedures and any computer systems. It is a period where they can become overwhelmed if too much is expected of them too quickly. So plan to gradually introduce them to the various parts of their role so they can digest what they need to learn. Explain where things fit into the bigger picture of the business - and try to be patient when answering their questions.

You will be better served by investing adequate time in getting their initial training right in this first month. Otherwise you run the risk of more time being taken up later in having to correct mistakes and explain things again. Even after the first month of training has been completed, make sure you keep an eye on how they are travelling, and continue to offer feedback and any suggestions to support them

By the third month with your business, you will usually know if things are going to work out with the new employee and whether your selection decision was a good one or not . And if things aren;t working out, then make a clean break. Don't prolong the misery - just make sure that you exit the person graciously.

Quite often the person will realise themselves that the "fit" isn't right. That their skills and interests don't match the requirements of the job. In no way is it about them as a peson. A frank conversation will sometimes surface that they aren't happy in the job, it wasn't what they expected and maybe you can point them towards something that could be better suited to them.

  • Getting the best out of your staff

Assuming then that you have built a solid foundation for the growth of your business by recruiting the right people, and having trained them properly - then how do you now get the best out of them?

For one thing, make sure you are paying them adequately. Keep track of the wages your competition might be paying, if you want to stand any chance of retaining good people. Also, think about other ways of rewarding good work from employees ..... whether it is movie tickets or a complimentary dinner for them and their partner at a local restaurant, or team drinks at the end of the week. When people have performed well, show them you've noticed.

When an employee goes over-and-above their usual duties to satisfy a customer - make sure it's recognised. Feeling un-appreciated is a common reason for employees to look for another job.

But money isn't everything - although it's still important to people.

Just as important as salary to many people is the quality of working relationships they have with their boss and their co-workers. Does your workplace seem to generally be a happy place to be? Do you encourage some camaraderie in the team - a bit of a laugh now and then?

Surveys of what motivates people at work have shown that people want to feel that their boss listens to them and respects their ideas and concerns. When was the last time you asked your staff whether they had any thoughts on how service could be improved to customers? Or asked them if there was anything that could help them perform their jobs more efficiently?

  • Improving your management skills

So, how do you get better at the people management stuff?

Well, for one thing you might consider attending a short management course to refresh some of your core skills in leadership, delegation, coaching, time management and communication. If this appeals to you, have a look at Management Course Melbourne or Management Course Sydney

Another strategy is to network with other small business owners in your local community and exchange ideas and experiences around people management. For example, you might discover they've tried some type of staff incentive program to reward high performance.

But above all, if you want to continue to improve your ability to manage people, then you need to take some time to reflect. By itself, experience is not necessarily a teacher ...... Instead, it is reflecting upon and reviewing your experiences that will determine whether you learn from them.

When all is said and done, becoming a better manager is about growing as a person.  Developing your self-awareness is essential if you are going to be able to get the best out of yourself and the people around you. Don't know about you, but for me - it remains very much a work-in-progress. Good luck!