Business colleges may take a semester or two to cover this topic. There are in-depth charts and analyses to sharpen one’s skills. However, for those of us that no longer have the time to devote to a semester or more of study, it might be good to establish a few ground rules and precepts to follow. Obviously, we need to confine this discussion to the fundamentals. However, here we are focusing on the management of small businesses and not that of large corporations.
First, we need to define it:
“Organization and coordination of the activities of business in order to achieve defined goals.”
The activity of management may incorporate the controlling, monitoring, planning and organizing of the steps necessary to achieve the stated goals. Various techniques and management styles may be used, but the objective is still to accomplish predetermined goals. Having defined goals is almost a prerequisite to having competent management and a successful company. Often, small companies have no set goals. They struggle in day-to-day operations and without goals delineated, there are no means of measuring success. They are willing to work a whole year and settle for what is left over for profits. Predictably, this lack of planning will often result in no profits and should be no surprise to management. Unfortunately, it does usually come as a big surprise because no one is, by definition, managing.
LEADERSHIP VS. MANAGEMENT –
In the small businesses that we are most familiar with, the difference between the two may be blurred. In larger companies leadership is thought to encompass the big picture; budgets, goals for the next three to five years, diversification, capital spending. It incorporates the vision and the plans necessary to achieve the goals. However, the same individual might be expected to do both in our scenario. Having consulted with management and determined the short and long-range goals, it may now become necessary to lead the employees to achieve them. Establishing a course of action or actions may require guiding and persuading the company personnel to follow specific steps that will result in the achievement of the predetermined goals. Thus, managing employees requires the “leadership” skills to reach the company goals.
Without a doubt, the objective is to reach the ultimate goals (revenue and profit) set for the company. However, there may be various intermediate milestones that need to be tackled first to accomplish the final objective. To achieve these, the “managers” of the company must lead the employees into making the correct decisions and actions that will give us the desired results. So, the question is really how is “management” accomplished? Techniques may differ, and some may be more effective than others, but a few overall principles should apply:
- Be Consistent- Treat everyone equally.
- Be Persuasive- Demonstrate the reason and thought behind a particular task.
- Short-term Goals- Focus on the intermediate steps that when accomplished should lead to the overall attainment of the bigger goals.
- Job Description-Well defined with tasks, responsibilities, and objectives.
- Define acceptable results.
- Find methods to improve employee’s work- Use of Key Performance Indicators to measure the effectiveness of employee work.
- Universal involvement- Key Performance Measurements for all.
- Staff Meetings-Coordination between all departments and employees- Use regular staff meetings to highlight progress and report KPI’S.
- Teach and Inform-Teach individually and inform all as to progress and best practices.
- Avoid Criticism- Mistakes will happen but correct in private
- Prescribe remedies to mistakes and inform all.
- Minimize risks.
- Uniform teaching is done by the best at their job.
- Promotion- Use as a reward for high achievers.
We have previously defined “Leadership” as setting the long-term goals for the company. Once we set goals, we find that management techniques require measurement and the use of “Leadership” to bring all employees to achieve them. Set the goals, and lead!