In earlier post on best practices when hiring a manager I mentioned that the small business owners should first try find an internal candidate and promote someone who is already working with you when you need to hire a manager. The feedback we received on the post as well as discussions with other small business owners has validated this practice. The reason is obvious. Any mistake made in hiring a manager will hurt your business for a long time. The best example of why this is the case can be seen in the difference in last 10 years in the performance of America’s two storied technology companies.
Look at the stock performance of IBM and HP. While IBM has experienced tremendous growth in those 10 years HP has gone in exactly the opposite direction. One of the factors that has contributed to this divergence is the way they have hired CEOs. IBM has had only 2 CEOs in the last 10 years. Not only that, they were both promoted from within and were groomed for several years prior to that. On the flip side, HP has gone through 5 CEOs since 1999 – all of who were hired from outside. I believe this is the primary reason why both companies are where they are. Let me explain the reasons why internal candidate is your best choice when hiring a manager.
One of the most important decisions you will make as a small business owner is hiring a manager to take care of day-to-day operations of your business. This is the person who will be running the show for better or worse. Hiring a bad manager can hurt your business in a number of ways. The customers will walk away. The employees will complain and leave. The reputation of your business will decline beyond repair. In the end, the business will become a mess that can take long time to recover, if at all.
That is why it is imperative to pay careful attention and take time in hiring manager. I discussed best practices in hiring a manager in earlier post. I mentioned that you need to consider personal qualities of the potential hire – even more than the skills. So what are those qualities you need to look for when hiring a manager?
Many small business owners focus on wrong actions to grow their sales. They have been led to believe by the marketing folks that you have to spend money (on advertising) to make money. What else would you expect to hear from marketing? After all, it is in the best interest of those marketing people to say that. While I don’t dispute the impact of marketing and advertising on sales, I do believe that it has been overhyped. In my opinion, you need to focus on the fundamentals and other low-cost actions before you spend money on marketing.
For any business sales is a function of three business drivers – target customer market, products and customer service. Pick the right target market, develop products they would die for and deliver them with excellent customer service. Viola!! You are guaranteed to see results in terms of higher sales and profits. I know this is easier said than done, but you can take baby steps towards that goal by first understanding what you are not doing right and making incremental corrections. Here are my observations in terms of 5 actions small business owners are taking that leads to sub-optimal sales.
Manager is probably the most important person for small businesses, after you. He is the one who manages day-to-day operations when you are not around, ensures that employees perform their job and is responsible for customer satisfaction. Yet many small business owners rush to hire managers without doing sufficient due diligence and end up regretting their decision afterwards and paying price in terms of business decline.
It is true that not every business needs a full-time manager, however in many situations it is a necessity for various reasons. For example, if you are running an absentee business manager is the one who will run the show. In some cases, business operating hours are more than you can provide yourself. Or you may just want to focus on high-priority strategic items and let the manager take care of operations. No matter what your reason is for hiring a manager the best practices described here will help you hire a manager who will help you grow your business.