Running your small business requires you to wear several hats: key strategist, marketing pro, scheduling master, customer service expert, and, of course, manager. Skilled 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, managing your employees effectively is crucial for the success of your small business. Ideally, you want to recruit passionate and dedicated employees who plan to stay with your business for a significant period of time. But what exactly are the best practices for managing your employees and ensuring that they stick around?
Creating intentional management practices can take your business far. Here are our top five tips for effective employee management for your small business:
- Enhance your interview process.
- Create a strong workplace community.
- Be clear with your expectations.
- Offer guidance.
- Empower your employees.
Effective employee management only creates more benefits for your business. Employees who feel supported perform better. In fact, according to this study, employees who feel heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work. The numbers don’t lie — successful management leads to successful businesses.
1. Enhance your interview process.
Have you ever hired someone who you thought was a strong candidate, but eventually turned out to be a poor fit for your company? If so, you might need to make some changes to your interview process.
Effectively engaging and managing your employees begins before you’ve even hired anyone. Although it might be more time consuming, thoroughly vetting your potential staff in the interview process has several long-term benefits. Not only will solid hires contribute to the growth of your business, but finding an employee with whom you can build a professional relationship can encourage that individual to remain at your company.
For these reasons, waiting to hire the right person is worth it. Here are some ways that you can improve your interview process:
- Provide 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.
- Request additional materials: Depending on the focus of your business, it might be a good idea to request additional materials (like a writing sample) from applicants so that you can assess their skills.
- Use 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.
- Allow 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. This way, you can see if they have researched 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 goals and culture can start your management journey off right. Enhancing your interview process ensures that the employees you do hire are the right people for the job.
2. Create a strong workplace community.
Ultimately, if your business is an enjoyable place to work, you are more likely to retain your employees over a longer period of time. Building community with and among your employees can make your workplace a fun place to be.
How should you create a strong workplace community? Ask your employees what they want to see!
As Galaxy Digital’s guide to community needs assessments shows, nonprofit organizations frequently use surveys to determine how to improve volunteers’ experiences. The same philosophy applies to for-profit businesses.
Your employees have a different perspective than you do as their manager. Getting some feedback about the employee experience can give you insight into your on-the-ground community as well as ideas about how to improve it.
In addition to asking for feedback, you also have the power to create a strong workplace community. Here are some event ideas to get you started:
- Activities outside of work: Consider hosting some fun activities outside of the workplace to allow your employees to bond in a more relaxed environment. For example, you could host an event at a dog park for employees to bring their 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. This way, employees can contribute to larger goals.
- Workplace giving: Another way you could build community among your employees is through a volunteer or workplace giving program. Social good programs encourage greater employee engagement and lead to happier and more fulfilled employees.
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. 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. It is equally important to 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.
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 even 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.
4. 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 want to learn more about how they can improve their performance, so offering explicit opportunities for guidance will foster their interest and excitement.
For example, consider setting aside time for one-on-one coaching sessions with your employees. Not only will these sessions allow you to provide your employees with helpful feedback, but this dedicated time will also encourage your employees to reflect on 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.
Guidance can also be helpful as you’re managing change in your business. Perhaps you’re expanding, relocating, or adjusting protocols to fit new needs. As you navigate these significant changes, don’t leave your employees in the dark. They will want to know what’s going on, and might even be able to offer you guidance and advice.
5. Empower your employees.
While you definitely 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. Closer connections can improve your work experience too, especially if you have a smaller staff.
Empowered employees are more independent and require less supervision, which can save you time and energy. Delegating your to-do list to capable employees can allow you to focus on other necessary tasks and your employees will 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 these issues as a way to improve the business as a whole. This way, employees will not feel as if they are “too difficult” or “annoying” for raising legitimate concerns.
As a manager of a small business or organization, you want to make sure you’re doing everything right 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.
The takeaway: Being intentional about your management style can go a long way with creating a fantastic work culture for you and your employees.
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.