“The best leaders know that their success or failure depends on their ability to inspire, guide and harness relationships both internally and outside the organisation,” Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions said in an interview with SME South Africa.
Alex Hadfield, SME Sector Lead at Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator also makes a very good case for entrepreneurs upping their communication, leadership and management skills – from motivating your team and increasing efficiency to building trust and engagement and reducing staff turnover. Hadfield outlines how to achieve this by doing the following:
– Improving how you lead your team
– Getting the best out of your employees
– Recognising the importance of both hard and soft skills
– Finding healthy ways to deal with disagreements
On the bottom line
Management and leadership skills include a combination of planning, leading, organising and controlling. None of those can be implemented without effective communication.
By making sure your employees know what to do (planning), are motivated to implement (leadership), and by you checking progress, problem solving and providing regular feedback (organising and controlling), ensures that you can delegate and create a healthy workforce with clear deliverables which translates into happy customers.
Make sure you have a basic code of conduct/disciplinary and/or grievance code in place
On non-negotiable leadership skills
Small business owners really need to do some introspection and build their skills – both soft and hard skills. Soft skills refer to building relationships and a motivated workforce with strong leadership and the hard skills refer to the technical skills required to run your business.
A combination of these are important to allow you to make decisions, implement, manage and grow your business. Growing your business means increased capacity and therefore knowing how to get the best out of your employees is important.
Leading by example requires the business owner to have emotional intelligence and self-awareness. First-time employees learn from you and will adopt your style as they have limited references and experience.
On dealing with disagreements in the workplace
It’s important to talk through disagreements before they get blown out of proportion, and while talking through the situation focus on the behaviour or event and not the personality. Always try to resolve the conflict and move forward instead of ignoring it.
More importantly, make sure you have a basic code of conduct/disciplinary and/or grievance code in place. A good tip is to take some time to discuss key guidelines and expectations with new employees in order to circumvent any grey areas and allow for a healthy feedback loop. It is important to consider that disagreements sometimes start when the guidelines or objectives are not clear.
Sometimes being too friendly can create confusion and blurred boundaries
On common communication and management pitfalls that first time employers fall into
Not providing feedback and not being available for your new employees are common pitfalls. We have found that one of the key factors to retain good employees is ensuring regular constructive feedback.
It is hard being the boss in an SME. Sometimes being too friendly can create confusion and blurred boundaries; you need to get the balance right between being a friend and being the boss. Employers must also ensure they define goals for their staff. When people don’t have clear goals, they muddle through their day. They can’t be productive or prioritise their workload.
On healthy employee/employer relations
Your goal is to create a sense of loyalty in your staff. You need to put yourself in your employee’s shoes, communicate openly and honestly and give each other ongoing feedback. A healthy employee/employer relationship is one where an employee is able to work and be productive and where required, ask for help. Seeing value and potential in an employee is always encouraging for employers.
Building loyalty with your first employees is very advantageous for SMEs. It means you’re able to walk a journey together, providing a growth path for them, while hopefully being able to grow your business and reach your goals.