For some small business owners, the journey from employee to boss is new and exciting and, well, also kind of terrifying. There’s no road map or GPS system that can tell you precisely how to lead in each and every situation.
Employees, business models, vendors, customers, cash flow and goals can all change at a moment’s notice. Sometimes you’re forced to make a decision even though you don’t know the best thing to do.
Fortunately, there are some leadership strategies that can help you become just the kind of boss your small business needs.
How to Soar
Don’t be afraid of calling the shots. In many cases it’s better to make a quick decision than it is to delay choosing a course of action. Errors can be corrected and problems can be resolved, but deferring the choice is like throwing a wrench in the gears. Nothing happens.
Get excited about your job. This is one place where small business owners definitely have the advantage over corporate managers. You have every reason to love what you do. Enthusiasm is contagious and contributes to happier employees. And happy employees mean happy customers.
Understand the correlation between management styles and employee personalities. If this isn’t something that comes naturally to you, start studying. Morale declines and businesses suffer when employees are forced to deal with a boss that “just doesn’t get it.”
How to Crash and Burn
Forget that your employees are real people who expect to be treated as such. Recently, protests arose in Norway when call center workers were subjected to a surveillance system that alerted managers if an employee spent more than eight minutes in the bathroom each day. Policies affect your workers, and some decisions require you to consider more than just the bottom line.
Only tell workers what they want to hear. It’s tempting at first to frame your messages in a way you think your employees will prefer. But this can backfire and cause employees to distrust you. Give it to them straight, whatever it is. They may not like it, but they’ll have to respect that you were upfront with them.
Take all the credit. Perhaps the most devastating thing you can do to morale at your small business is take credit for the accomplishments of your employees. As the head of the organization, you may find yourself the default recipient of awards and accolades. Be sure you find some way to publicly recognize the contributions of your staff.
For the most part, people agree that great bosses are good role models who know how to hire and retain good workers. It sounds simple enough, but in practice the job can be a difficult one. If you remain flexible and commit to changing things that don’t work, you’ll be well on your way to building a better business.
Think of the best boss and the worst boss you’ve ever had. In the comments, tell us what made you feel that way about each of them.