When you have a small to medium sized local business, you really need to focus on people management. If you only have a small number of staff, it’s even more important that every one of them is performing at their peak. Some of that is of course about giving them the tools and support they need, but there are many things that go into people management for local businesses and SMEs.
Here’s what you need to know.
When you are hiring people for your local business or SME, the most important thing is cultural fit. Skills can be taught, and qualifications can be acquired over time. But if a new hire doesn’t fit in with your team and company culture, you can’t fix that.
Nothing demobilises people faster than being stuck in a job where they feel like they can’t win, because they haven’t been given the tools to succeed. Whether it’s training, equipment or something else, a big part of your people management strategy should be to make sure you support your people with whatever they need.
No matter how great your employees are at what they do, if they don’t have clear goals from you and your leadership team, they don’t know what they are aiming for. It’s impossible to excel when you don’t even know where the goalposts are. So, make sure your local business people management plan includes clear job descriptions and goals for every employee.
Even if your people know what you expect from them, they won’t always know how they are doing unless you tell them. Positive feedback is a fantastic motivator, and negative feedback that is honest but not hurtful can help to correct and teach employees how to meet their goals better.
Most employees do an adequate job. However, some really stand out and are an outstanding addition to your SME. Make sure that you reward people who really go above and beyond. Whether it’s a bonus, a promotion and a raise or just a special mention during a meeting when they’ve done a great job, a pat on the back matters more than you think.
A toxic work environment is one of the most common reasons people leave their jobs. As a small local business owner, high staff turnover could be one of the most difficult problems you face. Make sure you are aware of what is going on in your office. Never play favourites, don’t encourage gossip and work on making your team collaborative rather than competitive.
Some employees can be thrown into the deep end with nearly any task and learn to swim. Most can’t, and when they are given a task, they don’t understand and can’t do, they become demoralised and demotivated. If you want your people to be ready to take on new challenges and tasks, make sure they get enough training, so they feel confident in their skills and knowledge.
It can be tempting to micromanage your people when you own an SME. Your business means everything, and you want to make sure everything is perfect. However, when you hire smart people who have the skills to do the job, the best thing you can do is get out of their way and let them do that job.
Usually, this is something that is said to employees, but it’s true for local business owners and SMEs too. You never know what your employees might be doing in five- or ten years’ time, and how that will affect you. So, make sure when you do cut ties, for whatever reason, it’s as respectful and amicable as possible.