It’s not easy starting a small business. Over half fail in the first four years and only 3 percent make it to year five. Small Business Trends spoke with Bob Cerone, CEO of CognosHR, to get his small business management tips.
Cerone says new businesses and even more established ones underestimate the time they need to manage employees. According to Cerone, there are three subsets to this overarching theme: performance management, training and ongoing education and responding to employee questions and concerns.
Become More Aware
“The first step is awareness,” Cerone says. “Recognizing that these tasks are part of running a business with employees helps prevent feeling blindsided every time there’s a performance management issue or an upset employee.”
Ignoring this advice puts your small business in peril. For example, turning a deaf ear to your employees’ needs can hurt morale with dire results.
Watch Team Dynamics
“If you’re not paying attention to your team makeup or relationships, poor team dynamics can develop — good people may end up leaving while the bad employees stay,” Cerone says.
Likewise, without good training and education programs, bright motivated folks look elsewhere. It’s the same story with poor performance management that’s lacking developmental opportunities.
Make it a Priority
So, what are the best ways for small businesses to boost their effectiveness in these areas? First you need to remember why everyone is there.
“The key is to figure out how to handle these tasks without losing momentum on other important activities,” Cerone says. “One option is to time block.”
Hammering out specific methods for each of the three areas comes next.
Blend it into Your Company Culture
For example, performance management alone cuts a big swath since it can include a variety of things like strategies to optimize workflow and team dynamics as well as individual work reviews. Cerone says this aspect needs to blend in so employees accept it.
“From the employee’s perspective, performance management should integrate seamlessly with culture and the day-to-day rhythms of your business. It might take some work to find the right balance, but it’s worth the effort.”
He says one of the ways you can do that is look for avenues to get administrative help so you don’t get bogged down.
Answering employee questions also requires some pre-planning.
Find Practical Solutions to Staff Challenges
“This one can be tricky for some managers” Cerone says. “On one hand, it’s important to show your employees that you care about their wellbeing by being responsive to personal or time-sensitive questions. However, if you’re constantly interrupting your own work to look up a question about your healthcare plan or listen to the details about an intra-office dispute, then you’re putting other important tasks at risk.”
HR software or assigning a point person dedicated to answering questions are two solutions.
Training and ongoing education are investments in both your employees and the future of your small business. Cerone says one way to motivate personnel to pursue these opportunities is to cover some of the expense. He offers up another cost-effective solution.
“A small-business-friendly way to invest in training is to have high performers offer trainings on their expertise to coworkers. This can also double as a team-building exercise and even improve collaboration.”
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