Why Better Managing Small Business Employees Yields Big Dividends

The average small business owner usually has very few employees, so ‘managing’ them may seem unnecessary.

As a group, members are engaged and invested, working closely with each other and things are usually running smoothly.

For many enterprises, this may be the case, but lack of ‘management’ will eventually put an end to the harmonious workplace.

In its place chaos and wasted effort usually reigns often ending in company failure.

Laura MacLeod a management expert offers some examples of how to identify and correct management problems.

Receptionist (Jane) hiredto greet and inform clients and new customers. She is a full time hourly employee, who’s personable, well liked and excited about the business. Jane has experience as a receptionist, so no need to get into any specifics about duties and responsibilities.

Everything goes well for a while, but at some point management seesthat Jane is routinely leaving her post, eating at her desk, and inviting team members to congregate and chat at her workspace.

When asked about this, Jane says, ‘I’m leaving my post because I need a break to stretch my legs and go to the bathroom. I eat at my desk because there’s no one to relieve me at lunch. I have team members come to my desk so I can get necessary information and learn more about the business.’ 

Management didn’t think it through and provide for these specifics: breaks, lunch, getting information. Because expectations were not clear, Jane has done her own ‘managing’ of her duties and protocol. Right from the start her day should be detailed: breaks (how long, how many, who will cover), lunch (what time, how long, where to go- off site or specific area of office).

Information: Herethere is a need to be clear in the job description. What exactly is Jane expected to know and share and when should she be referring to other team members?  An invested receptionist will want to take on more than simply directing people, which may or may not be fine with management. Decide and take appropriate action. If the job is simply to direct, state that and explain the procedure for referring and informing customers and clients.

If management wants Jane to take on an expanded role, she needs to be trained and guided.

MacLeod offers another example when the business has grown and needs to assign more duties to Jane and have her take on more responsibility.

In this case, management needs to be specific and determine how Jane will be compensated and whether her title will change.

Management may decide to hire another receptionist. Is Jane expected to train and supervise the new hire? If so, she needs to be paid and trained to accomplish this effectively and the new receptionist needs to be clear that Jane is her superior. More ‘managing’ to do.

The point is that no matter the size of your organization or how friendly and affable people are, expectations and communication need to be clear right from the start.

When people know and understand exactly what is expected of them, they feel secure in their actions and will perform well.

If they fall short, management will be able to point out specific issues and discuss or discipline. Nobody can say, ‘I didn’t know.’ or ‘That wasn’t in the job description.’

Whenever possible, offer a full and detailed explanation of the job and encourage employees to ask questions and communicate concerns. This helps everyone stay on the same page and ensures a strong working relationship.

According to Macleod, better managing employees is necessary and beneficial for the entire team. When Jane knows when and where to take her lunch break, she can relax and return to work refreshed. Customers, clients and team members all benefit as Jane is cooperative and professional.

MacLeod  believes managing employees more closely generates positive results that go way beyond the reception desk.

Laura MacLeod created From The Inside Out Project®,” based on two decades of experience as a union worker and with all levels of employment. She is an adjunct professor in graduate studies at the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work and speaks on conflict resolution, problem solving, and listening skills at conferences across the country.