Running your own business is such an amazing achievement but when you started, you probably weren’t quite imagining it like this. Starting as a solo freelancer was one thing, managing an office full of employees is quite another!
When you think about business ownership, it’s unlikely that you ever looked forward to the days where you find yourself letting someone go or trying to navigate the treacherous waters of office politics. However, days like these are all part of being the boss – luckily you get to enjoy hiring and motivating your team as well!
If you are thinking about running a business or taking on employees for the first time, here’s what you need to know before you take the plunge and – crucially – how to prepare!
Not the first thing you were thinking of, but holiday requests are one of the most important things you will need to think about as a manager. Giving your staff good paid time off is vital for keeping them motivated while they work and avoiding burnout. In fact, to get the best from your them, you should actually encourage employees to take time off.
However, what happens if a whole department all happen to book time off at the same time? What if someone decides to take a full month off at once?
You need to set down exactly what the rules are for taking time off and then be clear in following them. Try not to get caught up negotiating with staff about their vacation plans as this could end up in the rules being completely ignored, but do use your judgment to decide when the rules can be relaxed and why.
If you want to know more, read these 8 Tips For Handling Time-off Requests for a clearer idea of what you should do.
Everyone is different and we all have our own opinions and ways of doing things. For the most part, this is fine and leads to lots of creative thoughts and interesting discussion, but sometimes, arguments and conflicts can start and quickly end up making some people feel upset.
Though lots of people seem to think that conflict is always a bad thing, the most important thing you must not do is bury your head in the sand and try to avoid it. However you feel about arguments, you must learn to deal with conflict face on rather than try to deflect. If you find yourself running from a situation or agreeing just to reach a resolution, there is a serious problem. You are in charge here. You need to find a middle ground to smooth the way.
Conflict is actually a great way to learn new things and develop your team professionally as well as their ability to get on together. Use conflict as a team building method to encourage your staff to disagree with each other in a constructive way, rather than cause strife between them. Where there is diverse thought, innovation is never far behind so learning to debate together will boost your creativity as well as your business values.
One of the easiest traps to fall in at any level of management is failing to communicate properly. Whether you are having an off day and snap at the wrong person or you simply fail to tell the relevant people of certain changes, failure to communicate happens all the time.
While you will always have days where your communication isn’t at it’s best, you must be able to recognize what went wrong and then be able to make up for it or at least apologize later on. There’s no shame in being a manager who admits they are wrong and your team will probably respect you more for your admission and apology anyway.
In the meantime, make sure that what you are saying is completely clear and has no hidden meanings that could be misinterpreted by the wrong person. Make sure that everyone knows exactly what they need to know and be open and honest as much as you can. What you say will have a big effect so if you need time to think, take it.
Though most people think of communicating as talking, listening is actually just as important, if not more so. Where there is an issue, you need to make sure that you know exactly what the other person – or people – involved are thinking. Showing that you are willing to listen to everyone is a good example to set and should also help you with conflict management and avoidance. One of the things that will upset people most is the feeling that they are misunderstood or that they have been ignored. Listening, and acting upon what you hear, is a simple way to avoid this.
Unfortunately, as the boss, you are very likely to have to fire someone at some point. No business is perfect and whether you are going through a rough patch or you made a bad decision when hiring, letting people go is an inevitability.
However experienced you are, the firing process is always difficult, but the most important thing is that you exactly what you want to say, how you’re going to say it and get straight to the point. No one wants to spend 5 minutes of preamble waiting for the inevitable, just get straight in there and make the purpose of the meeting clear.
Hiring, on the other hand, can be equally as frustrating as it is exciting. On the one hand, you are meeting lots of prospective new talent, on the other, you need to make sure that they are suitable for the job and will fit with the rest of your team. Every hire is a gamble but as you gain experience you will get better at gambling.
Make sure that the job description you have written is thorough and covers all your expectations. However, don’t then decide not to interview someone because they don’t have all of these requirements. Give yourself room to find someone with a great attitude who can learn on the job, rather than hold out for the ‘ideal’ candidate who probably doesn’t really exist. Diversity is absolutely crucial for a successful and dynamic team so when you look at how someone will fit in, don’t just assume that looking the same and thinking the same will work. Choose people with different backgrounds, skills, and ways of thinking for the best team.
Being the boss is an amazing position to have, but like lots of positions of power, it comes with incredible responsibility and a need to be on your best behavior at all times. Of course, every entrepreneur has to learn how to manage office politics and as you get used to your position, all of these ideas and practices will come more naturally to you.
People can be really complex and since we spend so much of our time at work, it is vital that they are happy there. This means that you need to make sure that your workplace is open and honest, well balanced with different personality types and everyone is treated well. You will probably see more of your colleagues than you will your actual friends so be sure that when you hire them you will get on well and work well together.