Managing people is a tricky job, even for the most skilled business school grads and experienced professionals. Running a business and managing staff is more than just delegating tasks and supervising employees; it means you are accountable to both your clients and your staff.
Here are a few tips for managing people :
- Delegate work according to skill level and capability
As an entrepreneur your staff is there to help you achieve your goals and grow your business. Being in charge is doesn’t give you the right to palm off tasks you don’t enjoy on your staff. You must delegate work according to your staff’s skill level and capabilities. Each member of your staff is unique and has different strengths and weaknesses; it is your job to recognize their strengths. You need to get to know your staff and their capacities in the workplace. Remember to be fair in your delegation, resist the urge to pile work on your strongest staff members and delegate easier tasks to those who might be struggling. Make sure everyone has a fair share of responsibilities within their assigned roles.
- Hold weekly meetings
Weekly meetings are a common practice in most workplaces as it gives co-workers and managers alike a chance to discuss progress, plan the coming week, and initiate new tasks. Make sure you get status updates on the work you’ve delegated and ensure the participation of all your employees in weekly meetings. This will allow you to assess how employees are dealing with the workload and determine where changes need to be made.
- Schedule open door time
The “Open door” policy isn’t always the best approach to increase productivity. As a business owner and manager you may need time alone in your office to work, brainstorm, meet tight deadlines, and sort out your thoughts. However, your employees will have questions and concerns to discuss with you, designating a time when you will be available to address these concerns is a great way of showing your concern and approachability. It’s a good idea to schedule “open door time” every day or at least 3 times a week; this way employees know they can talk to you about their concerns. This practice is often adopted in academia where professors have “Office Hours” within which students can meet them to discuss grades, assignments etc.
- Exercise open and effective communication
Open communication is the key to effective management. Bosses are often the bearers of good and bad news. Inform all employees at the same time. Some business owners feel that they should only share information with certain employees who they determine “need to know it” or for whom it is “relevant”. However this scenario often results in closed door meetings between bosses and just a few staff members, leaving other employees feeling left out, suspicious and anxious. Engaging in closed door meetings of this sort is highly discouraged as it promotes division and suspicion. Of course some information needs to remain confidential but as a business owner you must be discrete about how you go about disclosing information to staff.
- Keep it professional
Sometimes as a business owner it may be tempting to befriend your employees since you hired them and they work directly for you, but it’s important to keep it professional. You may be closer to certain members of your staff than others but attempt to maintain the same level of interaction with all employees. Avoid going out to lunch with the same staff members every week or sitting next to the same people at meetings. This makes others feel like you’re playing favourites and will result in jealousy, competition, and workplace conflict as everyone wants to be close to “the boss”. You can engage in conversations with employees outside of working hours but remember to keep your composure. Be polite and keep it professional, don’t get too personal.
- Introduce team building initiatives
Initiating team building activities is a good way to foster a collectivist environment within your business and make employees feel included and welcome. Introducing office outings such as a lunch out of the office will allow you to connect with your staff in a new environment and boost morale. If going out is not feasible, organizing a potluck or simply celebrating employee birthdays with a cake or dessert is a great way to promote interaction. As a business owner you need to make sure employees are team players working toward a common goal.
Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world. She can be reached via Website, Twitter, Facebook or her Blog.