Running a small business in today's economy -- where the Great Recession has leveled the playing field for so many companies -- requires more than just forward-thinking owners and managers working tirelessly to keep the ship afloat. Company owners who master crucial management and leadership skills better position themselves to realize full value out of key employees and to steer business into the black.
Four Must-have Management Skills
If you've earned a degree in business management, you may have a cornucopia of leadership skills and techniques to call upon when needed. If not, if you're new to leadership or if you want to brush up on some vital basics, these four principles should get your started:
1. Understand Team Dynamics
This is the first step to helping your employees become highly effective workers. Strive for balance in skill sets, personalities and viewpoints. And don't be afraid to shake things up once in a while. A little uncertainty can show you which employees thrive during tough times, and which ones don't.
2. Develop Key Employees
This management skill plays off the team concept. You can increase the overall strength of your team by giving responsible workers additional duties and training, either through mentoring or by providing access to higher education. The more your employees know about and understand your business, the better they can contribute to its bottom line.
3. Delegate and Motivate
These skills can be as important to your company as its fiscal health. A strong business is more than just a team of talented workers. Trusting vital functions to proven managers frees up your time and allows those employees to grow along with your business. Also, provide feedback on their performance through quarterly or semi-annual reviews. You not only can track their progress more effectively, but you can get a feel if they are truly interested in contributing to the team.
4. Make Informed Decisions
Of course you want to act quickly, but never hesitate to seek the advice of your managers or other key employees, even if it involves cutting payroll, reducing hours, acquiring a competitor or seeking financing to stay in business. If you've laid the foundation through proper development and motivation, your team can provide critical ground-floor insight you might have overlooked.
Finally if you feel your leadership skills need some polishing, don't shy away from educating yourself further in business management. The time you spend in the classroom and/or sharing experiences with others could help you move your business to new success.
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