Running a small business is not as straightforward as some people might make it out to be. Remember that nobody reveals their full hand, and if you see someone doing exceptionally well without seemingly straining themselves, you can be sure that there’s a lot going on beneath the surface that you’re never going to see at all. There are many things one can do to improve their management capabilities in this situation, and to ensure that the company is being pushed in the right direction. Focusing on the truly important factors in your skills and personality is the best thing you can do to promote steady growth and predictable development in your business. Here are 5 effective ways to improve your management capabilities in your small business.
1. Explore Advanced Optimisation Methodologies
A lot has happened in the field of process optimisation in the last couple of decades, and companies now have much more advanced tools to work with in this area than ever before. It’s worth exploring what the field has to offer, because learning how to squeeze every bit of performance out of the processes within your organisation is the best thing you can do to ensure that it stays on the right track. And that often takes much more than simply looking at the bottom line for the last month and making small adjustments here and there.
Look into Lean Six Sigma for a good start. It might seem like a very complicated field, and you wouldn’t be too far off from the truth. There’s a reason why specialists in this area with 10+ years of experience under their belts tend to get compensated very well, and are highly sought after. And while you don’t have to climb that high up the ladder – or hire someone that experienced for your own company – it can still benefit you a lot to explore the basic ideas behind lean processes and Six Sigma, and try integrating them into your own work.
2. Learn to Incentivise, Not Punish
A common mistake that beginner leaders tend to make is to focus on the wrong kind of feedback in directing their employees. Punishing people for mistakes is the most obvious course of action here – and it’s also the one you should do your best to avoid. It’s important to come to terms with the fact that everyone makes mistakes and your employees aren’t flawless, and you should instead focus on the other end of the spectrum – rewarding people for outstanding achievements.
This can be applied to many areas of your work, not just the actual output performance of your workers. For example, adhering to safety principles in a production facility is something that’s crucial for the long-term success of the facility as a whole, and it’s a good idea to let people know that doing it properly is going to benefit them.
3. Get Up to Speed on the Tech You’re Using
As a leader, you have a responsibility to be more familiar with the solutions your company is using than the average worker. It’s up to you to drive the implementation of those solutions in the first place, after all, and you should be the one to decide when a particular tool no longer serves the needs of the organisation correctly. But even beneath that, you can do a lot to familiarise yourself with every small and large tool that’s used in your company on a daily basis.
This also includes the software side of things. Advanced Microsoft Excel training can make a huge difference in how you work with this seemingly simple application. “Seemingly”, because Excel is actually an incredibly powerful software solution that can do much more than churn a few columns of numbers. But it takes some time to explore those parts of it properly, and it’s a good idea to streamline the process through professional training courses. The same can be said for many other parts of your work, and it’s not a bad idea to look into filling up your time with quality training sessions.
4. Integrate Advanced Technological Solutions
Once you’ve covered the basics in terms of the tech you’re using, you might also want to look into more advanced solutions that can plug specific holes in your current workflow. Perhaps the most commonly brought up example for this right now is AI. The technology is everywhere in many different forms, and it looks like we’re still barely scratching the surface of what’s possible by integrating it deep into the workflow of a typical professional organisation.
From in-depth data analysis, to assisting your workers – and even leaders – in their regular tasks, there’s a lot to gain from appropriate integration of AI solutions into your company. This requires its own set of specialists though, so you should plan accordingly and ensure that the organisation can take the extra strain in terms of workforce requirements. In some cases, you might already have some in-house expertise to cover the basics. But you can’t count on that forever, and at some point, you’re going to want to hire people who do a lot of advanced work in the field, at least if you discover that it’s become an integral part of your general workflow.
5. Nip Interpersonal Issues in the Bud
Remember that a company is made up of its employees. Focusing too much on processes, products, and technology can leave you blind to some other issues in the organisation, which can often be just as important to address on a deeper level. Interpersonal problems can arise in any organisation, and they’re just as common in major corporations as they are in small garage shops. And in both cases, it’s important to address the problem as soon as it’s appeared, and ensure that it doesn’t return, because these things can bring down entire organisations, and it’s already happened plenty of times in the past.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to not only resolve the immediate conflict, but to also determine what caused it in the first place, and how it could have been prevented. This is a more social, personal skill, and it’s something that not everyone is capable of handling properly. And that’s fine – as long as you’re aware of that and are willing to step back in that case. But make sure that you have someone available in the organisation who can do that instead. It’s important to have a competent mediator helping people address their differences, and the importance of this is only going to keep growing with the size of your organisation. Once things like cultural differences enter the stage as well, you’re going to have a real situation on your hands if you don’t pay attention.
Among the many things you can do to make yourself a better leader, these are perhaps the most important ones, and the points you should focus on the most. Leading a company of any size is a skill of its own, and while you can’t expect to know everything right off the bat, you also shouldn’t be fine with becoming complacent with your skills over time. Always strive to learn more and to improve yourself, both as a leader as well as a person, and always have a plan for your next move in this regard.