While your business is in startup mode, your management “team” may consist of only one person: you. But as the company gains momentum, you’ll likely reach a point where you’ll have to relinquish control and trust someone else to oversee day-to-day operations. Otherwise, you’ll never have time to focus on growing the business.
So, how do you cultivate managers who will support your efforts and the organization’s culture? The Intuit Small Business Blog asked a few successful entrepreneurs and other experts to share their best practices.
Develop Existing Strengths
Kim Miller, president of InkLink Marketing, recommends recognizing your staff members’ strengths and encouraging them to develop in those areas.
“I identified one of my employees early in her career as a high-potential, high-growth candidate,” she says. “Initially, I spent a substantial amount of time with her, teaching her my way of doing things. However, as a millennial, her use of technology was far better than my own. I quickly realized that if I made her do everything my way, I would not only stifle her, but my business as well.”
Miller gave her employee a small budget and the freedom to improve the company’s social media presence. Miller also helped pay for the employee to earn a master’s degree. The employee now manages all of InkLink’s digital campaigns and develops social media promotions for clients.
“As small-business owners, we cannot do it all,” Miller admits. “The sooner we realize it, the better. Spending the time in vetting candidates who have the raw skills we need — or better yet, the skills that complement our own — the faster we can grow our practices.”
Alan Guinn, managing director of the Guinn Consultancy Group, agrees. “Once a potential management employee demonstrates that he/she can do a specific job function, let them own it. Through this responsibility, they will grow and prosper as managers.”
Try Out the Leaders
Leadership training won’t work if a person isn’t right for the role. That’s why promoting existing employees is often better than hiring newcomers to fill management positions. You already know them, and they already know you.
As small-business consultant Kaliprasad Varanasi observes, “an organic leader grown within the company is better than a leader employed from outside as they understand the DNA of the organization in a better way.”
Michael Provitera, author of Mastering Self-Motivation: Preparing Yourself for Personal Excellence, suggests that larger companies rotate team members into leadership roles.
“Select a team structure for a certain functional area,” writes, Provitera. “Have the team select a leader for six months. After six months, repeat the process and rotate the leader[ship] position to next elected person. What you will find is that a leader will surface, and this leader, in many cases, will continue to remain in that role.”
Give Positive Feedback
Artie Lynnworth, author of Slice the Salami: Tips for Life and Leadership, One Slice at a Time, says that positive reinforcement is an effective means to fuel professional growth. “Try to catch them in the act of making progress,” he advises, “and acknowledge … the positive change.”
Chip Bell, author of Managers as Mentors, adds that great mentors look for ways to add value to every encounter. “Instead of shouting a correction, they inspire with a story,” he explains. “They assume the best instead of being quick to criticize. And, their up-close-and-personal approach attracts passion for those around them. They are excitedly real.”