How can you be a great boss who motivates your team to be productive, without becoming feared or disliked? Many business owners and their senior staff often find themselves supervising other workers. If you’re in that position in your business with little experience or even little passion for the task, it can be easy to fall into common traps that leave you frustrated and your team demotivated. Yet, successfully managing your team is an essential part of running a profitable business. Here’s a closer look at pitfalls to avoid to ensure that you’re being an effective manager, without being a jerk.
Too Little Communication
Communication was the #1 complaint that employees had about their managers, according to a recent study by the National Business Research Institute. Effectively delegating tasks is an art. If you haven’t managed staff before, it can be difficult to get the balance of communication just right. Too little communication is a big risk that can lead to underperforming staff and manager frustrations.
Specificity gets you the results your need and gives your employees a clear goal to aim for. When you’re delegating, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you explained what you need done, along with a clear deadline?
- Have you been specific about what the final deliverables should look like?
- Are there clear success metrics that you and your employee can refer back to track success?
At the other end of the communication spectrum is micromanaging. Micromanaging is a common issue that business owners face when they are having a hard time letting go of the details. Textbook micromanaging typically involves a manager that wants updates on the smallest details of an assignment, to dictate the process used to complete the task or who interrupts so frequently that it delays the work. As the business owner, step back and ask yourself what you hope to achieve with a specific project or position. Determine where process is important and how frequently you need updates for your peace of mind. Then look for ways that you can step back and evaluate employee success based on outcomes. The more you can free up your time from micromanaging and small activities, the more you’re able to focus on profitable business activities.
Not Listening to Employee Feedback
Larger companies often have formalized feedback programs in place that capture insights from their employees – and with good reason. Your team has insights into everything from client relationships to internal processes improvements. How often are you asking for – and really listening to – their input? Ultimately, the decisions that steer your business rest with you. But gathering as much data as possible puts you in a strong position to make good decisions. Soliciting employee feedback can keep your business on track and ensure that your employees feel heard and valued.
Setting Unrealistic Expectations
As a business owner, your company plays a large role in your life – both personal and professional. It’s more than just your livelihood. It’s something that you’ve built and grown, and it’s tangible evidence of your vision in the world. But for your employees, it’s just a job. As an entrepreneur, you’re probably “on” 24/7 thinking about business ideas and innovations. But employees operate at a different speed, because their incentive structure is different. It’s important to make sure that you’re setting expectations for employees that are realistic for their positions. Overworked employees will soon start looking for their next opportunity.
Not Managing the Employee Experience
New managers don’t always think about the employee experience. What kind of work culture are you creating? Does your company offer work that challenges and engages your team? What sort of opportunities for advancement or career path do you envision for your staff? Long-term employee retention is essential for the success of your business. Some of the biggest factors that influence employee retention are whether employees enjoy their work, mesh with the company culture and can see an opportunity to grow their own careers. Take time to think about these important issues and you’ll be well positioned to attract and retain the most talented people in your field.
Business owners often have to manage teams. When you’re used to thinking as an entrepreneur, determining how best to manage and motivate other workers can be a challenge. Start by paying attention to how you communicate, thinking about the work experience from the employee point of view and making the most of employees’ insights. Employees who have clear expectations about their performance, a boss that’s dedicated to creating a strong company and whose contributions are heard and appreciated are one of your strongest assets for long-term growth and success.
What management challenges have you faced in the course of running your business? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.