Project management is a must have skill for small business owners as well as managers and executives of large companies. Anyone can dream up new projects without much effort. Only those who can execute those projects stand to succeed in their endeavor. History is rife with examples of projects, large and small, that have either failed or overrun their time and budget because they were not managed well. The managers in charge of these projects did not possess and exhibit necessary skills required to take them to the finish line.
It is said that leaders are not born, but made through hard work and dedication. It takes different types of skills to advance in your profession and be a true leader that everyone admires. Unfortunately, these “soft skills” are not taught in the classroom. You have to learn these skills on the job and by seeking advice from friends and professional colleagues. The good news is these skills can be learned, and once you master them the payoff is significant in terms of promotion and pay increase / bonus. You don’t even have to wait till you get a job to learn these skills. You can teach your school going kids these skills to give them jump start on their future careers. After all, you need a combination of school education and soft leadership skills to get hired and advance in the career.
A great leader or business owner not only knows how to run his company, but he is also a great motivator and coach to his employees. Think about it – your business is only as good as the contribution made by your employees and you are only as good as the value you can get from your employees. That is why coaching and motivating your employees to bring out the maximum potential from them is one of the most important jobs of any leader.
The problem is not every leader is a born coach. There are those who are natural at bringing out the best from others and there are others who make employees run away from them. With little help and determination it is possible for a leader to improve his coaching skills. All you need is to put yourself in your employees’ shoes. Below are 3 important steps you need to take to be a better coach.
There is a crucial difference between being tough and being a jerk when it comes to running small business. Many small business owners take it to the extreme when it comes to being tough and, as a result, end up alienating their employees and everyone else around them. In the previous post I described why you don’t have to be a jerk to succeed in business.
I have received interesting feedback from the readers on that post. Some of them maintained that when you have to deal with number of people, many of whom are out there to take advantage of you, you have no choice, but to be a “jerk”. This is where many of us get it wrong. While you don’t want to come out as too “soft” to make sure people do not take you for a ride, you don’t have to go to the other extreme either to succeed. There are ways by which you can portray yourself as tough and still be respected by people around you. Read on to find out how:
All successful business people are jerks to some degree, right? Steve Jobs, one of the most brilliant and successful entrepreneurs, who is liked (worshiped) by many had personality that many of us would not be able to stand. He fired quarter of the team working on next generation computer called Lisa because they were not “A-players”. He even refused to pay the share of bonus he and his partner, Steve Wozniak, had received after laboring for 4 grueling days to meet the deadline to produce a prototype.
These and the stories of other successful people may make us think that the only way to succeed in entrepreneurship or in small business is to be a jerk and screw people of their fair share. But is that a fair assessment? Were they successful because they were jerks or is there more than what meets your eyes?
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.
It is estimated that best employees contribute 30-50% more than average employees for a typical business. Their contribution is not only in the form of higher productivity, but it also comes from new ideas and better customer service. These are the employees who can take your business to new heights provided you are able to hold onto them.
Employee turnover in general is harmful for small business. When it comes to turnover of star employees it could damage your business beyond repair. That is why it is paramount to treat your star employees well and ensure they are happy to work with you.
If you are not careful to check your emotions when running a small business you may stand to lose number of customers and sales. As a small business owner, you are not only the leader of your employees; but also represent the face of the business. Whatever emotions you show in front of employees and customers reflect upon your business. That is why it is important to have enthusiastic demeanor and smiling face when facing customers and employees.
Many small business owners and leaders cannot control their emotions, especially when things are not going right on a particular day. They get too frustrated with the pressure of the time and get upset with employees and customers. We have experienced this first-hand.
If your heart is not in your business (or anything you are doing for that matter); you might as well not own the business. Your business is just going to drag along at best and in worst case it will fail causing you financial and emotional pain.
We say this from our experience at a concert we attended this past weekend.