Growing your own business is fun and fulfilling. But let’s face it—some things can be a bit nerve wracking. Take hiring your first employee, for example. If you’ve never managed employees before, this can be a bit of a daunting task. You might not know how to be a good manager, or what that title even means in the context of your business.
That’s why we created this guide. To help you understand how to manage employees effectively, so that you (and your new first hire) can focus on growing your business even further.
The role of a manager
Managers are, first and foremost, leaders in their organizations. They set the to-do lists for their employees, make work schedules, offer support and coaching, and set the big picture strategic goals for the business.
They typically have a split focus between managing the business, managing employees, and acting as mentors to help their employees grow and perform better in their roles.
Because of that, managers need to wear many hats.
Responsibilities of a good manager
- Primary point of contact. A manager acts as the primary point of contact for employees, guiding them through onboarding, training, integration into the new business, and ongoing development in their roles.
- Coach and mentor. Managers offer guidance, support, and feedback to employees, helping them grow professionally.
- Performance evaluator. Managers regularly assess employee performance, provide constructive feedback, and set goals that help the employee become more impactful for the organization. This may also lead to decisions about promotions and additional compensation.
- Communicator. Managers set the tempo for open and effective communication within a company, ensuring employees understand their responsibilities, the company’s goals, and how they contribute to its success.
- Problem solver. Managers assess and address challenges and concerns that may arise amongst their team, helping to foster a solution-oriented environment. They remove barriers for their employees and help them achieve their goals.
- Culture setter. Managers help to create, embody, and protect the company’s values and culture. They play a critical role in onboarding new employees into that culture, and nurturing so that it’s inclusive and beneficial for all workers.
How you manage your employees won’t necessarily be the same as someone else. Everyone has their own style as a leader, and vision for what they want their company to be for employees.
If this list of responsibilities sounds daunting, remember that good managers aren’t born: they’re made. You can, and will, grow into your own as an effective leader for your employees.
What makes a good manager?
Effective management isn’t something that comes innately to everyone. It’s a collection of skills, combined with certain personality traits, that are honed over time through effort, trial and error, and learning from what works and what doesn’t.
The profile of a “good manager” typically involves some combination of the following skills and attributes.
Employees, like managers, have their strengths and weaknesses, areas of confidence, and areas of doubt. A good manager is one who is able to identify these feelings and offer support or motivation where it’s needed. Empathy allows managers to build strong, trusting relationships with their employees. This is what fosters a supportive work environment.
Good managers understand that diversity makes a company strong, and inclusivity unlocks the full potential from each employee. This starts from day one for your first hire. Learn what makes them unique, and nurture their strengths and unique experiences. That’s how you help employees achieve their full potential.
3. Strong communication
Clear, timely, and effective workplace communication is critical to being a good manager. This is how you convey expectations, explain new concepts and processes, and ensure that employees know everything they need to know to help meet the businesses’ goals.
Any small business owner will tell you that change is the only constant when running your own company. Markets shift, new competitors pop up, economic situations change, and new opportunities arise. Small businesses need to be flexible to meet these changes. Managers, likewise, need to be able to help guide their employees effectively through uncertainty.
Adaptability as a manager and business owner means not only pivoting your strategy, but also what you’re directing your employees to do (and how you support them).
Managers need to be able to make balanced and informed decisions quickly and decisively. It’s likely you need to make hundreds of micro decisions per day, on top of bigger ones related to the future of your business.
Good managers are able to quickly evaluate the situation in front of them, identify possible solutions, consider the implications of each option, and make confident decisions that best support the company’s objectives.
To manage employees effectively—and make informed decisions—managers need to be active listeners. That means putting your ego and opinions aside when it’s needed to hear different perspectives, problems, and suggestions.
This is how you gather a diverse range of options and opinions to inform good decision-making. And it’s how you can effectively read between the lines and properly support your employees (even if they don’t explicitly ask for help).
Good managers are also good leaders. That means they don’t just tell their employees what they do, they lead them by examples. This includes motivating and coaching employees to achieve their best, giving them more responsibility as they progress so that they can have more ownership over their role, and championing their growth as workers and people.
8. Time management
For small businesses who are just starting to build their staff, time is often at a premium. You may not have many resources at hand. And you and your employee may have to juggle multiple different roles at once.
Effective time management, therefore, is critical to being a good manager. This helps you prioritize tasks, set deadlines and to-dos, and ensure that the most important work is completed on time, all the time.
Many of the above skills culminate into being able (and willing) to let go of certain tasks and delegate to your employees. Small business owners often want to take complete ownership of all parts of their business. It’s their (and your) baby, after all. But, as you grow, this level of control is not sustainable.
Good managers understand how, and why, to delegate tasks appropriately, and are able to trust their employees to get the job done. This comes back to the need to properly coach and nurture employees. As they grow, you’ll feel more and more comfortable with delegating critical tasks, which is what will help drive growth for your business,
10. Continuous learning
We’ll say it again. Good managers are made, not born. All of the above skills and attributes can, and should, be nurtured and improve over time. A good manager knows where their strengths are, and where they need to improve.
If you’re willing to learn and grow, both personally and professionally, it’ll help you stay adaptable, informed, and prepared to meet the evolving needs of your business and team.
Mistakes to avoid as a manager
We’ve talked a lot about what makes a good manager. But what about a bad one? Who actions or personality traits are potentially harmful to good leadership?
How to avoid being a poor manager
- Avoid micromanaging. Trying to control every detail of an employee’s work will burn you and your employees out, and get in the way of long term employee satisfaction and growth.
- Give feedback. Failing to speak up when an employee does something negative, or if they go above and beyond their role, erodes trust and transparency in your team. Open feedback—positive and negative—leads to stronger workplace bonds and better performance.
- Listen to feedback. Likewise, failing to hear and respond to employee feedback can also erode trust, and will show your employees that you don’t value their opinions. This can harm employee retention, and make you lose out on good ideas to improve your business.
- Practice empathy and flexibility. Being rigid in your management style, and not considering your employee’s personal needs, personal life, and work styles can lead to resentment and poor employee retention. Be flexible and empathetic to each employee.
- Have the difficult conversations. Failing to have difficult conversations about performance issues, workplace conflicts, and any other issue that needs fixing will only make the problem worse.
- Recognize achievement. Employees want to know their hard work is appreciated. Failing to acknowledge and reward good work can demotivate them, which can harm their productivity and potentially lead to their resignation.
- Don’t overload employees. Assigning too much work or not managing workload effectively can lead to burnout. Understand each employee’s capacity and prioritize tasks to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
This list isn’t exhaustive. A good rule of thumb is to try to avoid any behaviors that will directly or inadvertently antagonize or demotivate your employees. Good managers prop employees up and support them toward their goals. That’s how great businesses are built.
Make employee management easier with Homebase
Managers juggle a lot. Finding efficiencies and parts of the job to automate is key to ensuring you can remain productive and avoid burnout as you grow. Homebase offers a suite of management tools to help you manage your team more efficiently.
- Time clocks and timesheets: Homebase ensures accurate tracking of hours worked, facilitating seamless payroll processing.
- Employee scheduling: Simplifies the creation and management of employee schedules, minimizing conflicts and ensuring efficient shift allocation.
- Payroll integration: Streamlines the payroll process, making it easier to compensate employees accurately and on time.
- Hiring and onboarding: Enhances the hiring process and makes onboarding new employees more effective and streamlined.
- Employee happiness: Provides tools for better communication, feedback, and recognition, aiming to boost engagement and satisfaction among employees.
See for yourself how Homebase can make life as a manager easier. Get started today.