I have found that most managers from small businesses need coaching on how to become more effective, and that often the basics of the “craft” of management seem to be lacking. Many small business persons get into business not to be a professional manager, but they become managers by default because they build houses, or have a professional practice, or want to make money from their cooking skills. Nothing in any of those professions prepares small business owners to be effective managers. Many believe that effective leadership and management means “I am the boss and I tell you what to do.” End of discussion.
I always start with the basics of employee feedback, clear job descriptions, reviews, etc. These are foundations of the relationship with any employee and not just something that big companies do. How can an employee do their job if you have not told them what their job is and suggested to them on how to do their job better?
A couple of years ago, I discovered a fabulous resource for any manager in any size company. It is called Manager Tools and is a comprehensive body of recorded discussions on everything from how to give employee feedback to how to shake hands. It is distributed in the form of a weekly podcast and can be found for free either through their web site at Manager-Tools.com or through the Business section of the podcast directory of iTunes. (For those who have not yet discovered “podcasts”, or are technically phobic, do not be intimidated. A podcast is just like a radio broadcast that you can access through your computer. Just load iTunes for free over the internet, go to the Podcast Directory, search for Manager Tools and subscribe.) The basic subscription is free and like much of the internet today, there are enhanced services for a nominal fee, but the free weekly podcast is fantastic by itself.
The two business consultants who produce this information work mostly with large corporations and so for small businesses, some of the podcasts are not relevant. But for the most part, the information is useful to anyone in business. I am a giant supporter of this resource, have suggested it to most of my clients and would recommend it to any small business person.