Running a small business requires you to wear several hats: key strategist, marketing pro, scheduling master, customer service expert, accountant, and, of course, manager. Effective employee management can help you find and retain highly talented individuals for your business, which improves customer experience and contributes to overall growth.
Whether you own a consulting firm, a retail clothing store, or even a pet daycare service, adopting employee management best practices is crucial to your long-term success. Let’s explore seven tips for optimizing your small business’ management skills.
1. Enhance your interview process.
Effectively engaging and managing employees begins before you’ve even hired anyone. Although it may be time-consuming, thoroughly interviewing and vetting potential staff will help you hire individuals who excel in their roles.
For these reasons, it’s important to improve your interview process by:
- Providing detailed job descriptions: Before taking the time to interview someone, you want to make sure that each applicant has a clear understanding of the position. With a detailed job description, you can vet candidates from the beginning.
- Requesting additional materials: Depending on the focus of your business, it might be a good idea to request additional job-related materials (like a writing sample) from applicants so that you can assess their skills.
- Using a clear structure: Prepare for interviews in advance so that your conversations with candidates are organized and clear. Write your questions ahead of time and use a similar structure for each interview you conduct. Doing so will help you compare results more efficiently.
- Allowing the candidate to ask questions: One of the best ways to gauge a candidate’s interest in the position is to give them some time to ask their own questions. That way, you can determine if they’ve taken the time to research your business and are eager to learn more about the position. You will also have the opportunity to clarify any points of confusion.
Hiring employees who align with your business needs and values will start your management journey off on the right path and allow you to focus on other important initiatives, like creating a strong workplace community.
2. Create a strong workplace community.
According to NXUnite’s guide to employee retention, making your business an enjoyable place to work will help you retain employees over a longer period of time.
To create a positive workplace, consider hosting the following events:
- Activities outside of work: Host fun activities outside of the office to allow your employees to bond in a more relaxed environment. For example, if you run a dog training business, you could host an event at a dog park and encourage employees to bring their own pets to play.
- Birthday celebrations: Who doesn’t love cake? Celebrating your employees’ birthdays demonstrates that you care about your staff as individuals and not just workers.
- Open idea sessions: Organize weekly or monthly office hours during which employees can freely propose ideas to improve the business, so employees can contribute to larger goals.
Intentionally building community as a manager shows your employees that you want to create a welcoming and enjoyable workplace. When your employees feel valued and comfortable among their co-workers, management becomes easier and performance improves.
3. Support employees’ interests.
Show your employees that you value their interests by helping them support the causes they care about. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs allow your business to give back to nonprofits and other worthy causes in your community.
Here are some of the common components of CSR programs that you can offer to employees:
- Corporate grants. Offer monetary grants to nonprofit organizations that do work that aligns with your company’s own mission and values. While you should create parameters and guidelines for the grant, consider getting employees involved when it comes to choosing grant recipients.
- Matching gift programs. In these programs, corporations offer to match donations employees make to charitable causes at a certain ratio. To set up a matching gift program, you’ll need to choose a match ratio, clarify minimum and maximum match amounts, and invest in quality CSR software. To make the process as convenient as possible for employees, look for those with integrations that enable auto-submission capabilities.
- Volunteer opportunities. Ask employees to suggest nonprofits to volunteer with and organize company volunteer days. For organizations your employees spend a significant amount of time volunteering with already, you can offer volunteer grants.
Remember that the success of your workplace giving program depends on high employee engagement. To take advantage of the managerial and retention benefits of a CSR program, make sure your employees are aware of the programs you offer, understand your guidelines, and have input on the organizations you support.
4. Be clear with your expectations.
Nothing is more frustrating than when you’re expected to complete a task, but you haven’t been told the requirements and specifications. How are you supposed to complete the task when you don’t know the deliverables your supervisor is expecting?
When managing your employees, it’s important to clearly convey exactly what you expect from them. Be clear with your expectations throughout the recruitment and onboarding process as well as when your employee is fully up and running. This way, you can ensure that all of your employees have exactly what they need to do their jobs from the beginning.
Another expectation you might want to communicate with your employees is your vision for your business’ development. By conveying your long-term goals, employees will understand the greater trajectory of your business. They might even have some ideas for how you can achieve your goals faster.
Remember that your employees can’t read your mind — if you think that there might be a lack of clarity around a specific task or expectation, it’s best to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
5. Offer guidance.
Depending on the nature of your business or organization, your employees may benefit from direct guidance. Employees who are invested in your business’ success likely want to learn more about how they can improve their performance and offer more value, so offering explicit opportunities for guidance will foster their interest and excitement.
For instance, let’s say your pet care business recently invested in Gingr’s marketing software to streamline outreach. You should host a series of training sessions to ensure your staff is familiar with its capabilities and can complete important tasks within the platform, such as creating customer profiles, making reservations, and updating pet information.
These coaching sessions allow you to provide employees with helpful feedback and encourage them to reflect upon their own performance. Additionally, a closer working relationship with your employees can create a more harmonious environment, one in which you work with your employees rather than just being in charge of them.
6. Empower your employees.
While you want to offer your employees consistent guidance, it’s also important to demonstrate that you trust your staff to get the job done. Trust is essential to building productive relationships with your employees and improving their work experience, especially if you have a smaller staff.
Delegate your to-do list to capable employees, so you can focus on other necessary tasks and your employees can feel as though they have more of a stake in the business.
You should also empower your employees to bring up complaints or problems, either to you directly or to your human resources department. When discussing your procedure for filing complaints, frame it as a way to improve the business as a whole. This way, employees will not feel as if they are “too difficult” for raising legitimate concerns.
7. Create an appreciation strategy.
One of the easiest ways to engage employees and improve your retention rates is by creating an appreciation strategy. When employees feel like their hard work is recognized and appropriately rewarded, they’ll be motivated to continue completing high-quality work, feel a connection to their workplace, and want to contribute to a positive work environment.
Take a focused approach to your appreciation strategy by answering these questions:
- What types of work and behavior should be rewarded? Determine what specifically you want to recognize employees for. Consider your business’s values and how employees might demonstrate them in their day-to-day duties. For example, you might have a value of treating customers with respect and empathy. Then, your business would make it a point to show appreciation to employees whenever they successfully navigate a potentially difficult interaction with a customer.
- Who will show appreciation? If leadership is in charge of showing appreciation, each thank-you will feel more formal and can also be used as part of performance evaluation. However, some businesses may want to make showing appreciation a more casual matter, ensuring moments leadership might not see are also recognized by opening up their appreciation strategy to include peer-to-peer recognition.
- How will you show appreciation? Appreciation can take a number of forms, from thanking employees at the end of the work day to formal bonuses and incentives. You might also show different levels of appreciation based on what employees are being appreciated for. For example, a business with an employee gift strategy might give out gift cards of various amounts based on employee’s sales numbers.
When introducing a new appreciation strategy, be open to employee feedback. In some cases, you may be successfully motivating your team, whereas others might have unintended side effects, like making employees feel the need to compete with one another.
As a manager of a small business or organization, you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to bring out the best in your employees. And while managing certainly has its challenges and frustrations, making time for intentional management practices and working with your employees to create an enjoyable workplace can help you maximize your productivity and reach your goals.
Hi, I’m Casey! I’m the Sales Manager at Gingr software. Originally from Indianapolis, I now live in Colorado with my wife and dog, Dexter. Our hobbies include hiking, skiing, and visiting local breweries.