Everybody’s business: Managing people is an art

Running a business and managing employees can appear as two separate and non-relational skills. However, management is an integral role of owning a business. Some people do not like supervising; others have the knack and thoroughly enjoy it. Similar to other skills, managing people can be learned.

Most small businesses start out with the founder personally doing just about everything. At some point it becomes necessary to build a team if the business is to be successful. For many people who have started a business this task becomes a real challenge.

“Balance” is the key to building a long-term and effective organization. According to John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, “The five best players on the court don’t necessarily make the best team.” As in sports, the business team must be built and organized so the people on it compliment each other.

An atmosphere of cooperation and teamwork must be developed and encouraged by the examples of the business owner. The work environment should inspire enthusiasm. Maximizing the contributions of employees through face to face leadership and positive feedback will enable the business to compete more effectively.

The business owner must be consistent, avoid intrigue, and be non-political. It is important to remember that communication is a two-way process. The “Challenge Up, Support Down” principal should be followed. Be a good listener who allows and encourages employees to contribute ideas and opinions before an issue is decided. Maintain a true “open door” policy. Hold regular meetings and use these meetings to tell people how they stand, how the business is doing, and above all share future plans.

On the other hand — maintain discipline! Letting anyone get away with doing a poor job for a long period of time just to avoid confrontation is a serious mistake. It is imperative to realize and demonstrate how important the employee team really is to the business.

As stated earlier, it is probably easier for some than for others. Owners need to develop good personnel management skills if they want to expand the businesses they have put so much of their money and effort into.

Sandra Taylor-Sawyer is director of the Small Business Development Center at Clovis Community College. Call the center at 769-4136 or visit www.nmsbdc.org/clovis