This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Microsoft Office . All opinions are 100% mine.
If a new business is to grow and thrive, a startup owner or manager must recruit the right talent, then successfully manage them in a way that gets the best results for the business.
Some leaders come from a great upbringing that makes them seem like they must have come out of the womb that way. Yet, others – most, in fact – are made. Trained and educated by the people who’ve worked for them, and by those who they’ll lead throughout their career.
If you’re a startup owner/manager who isn’t yet comfortable in their role, this list of 5 musts are here to help you along the path:
1. Master the Art of Delegation
As you skim down this list of 5 musts, you might be tempted to think delegation is the least of your worries. After all, it’s just a matter of finger pointing – “do this, do that.” Nothing too terribly difficult about that, right?
Startups are always facing one critical juncture or another. Worse, you likely haven’t been working with your employees, at least the majority of them, for very long. Handing over responsibility isn’t easy, but it has to be done if you’re going to run the business and all it entails successfully.
Entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss, Richard Branson and several others advise you start with the stuff that bores you to tears and isn’t terribly important to the business’s bottom line.
However, very few tasks in the day-to-day of business operations are so menial that they add no value. Make this clear to your employees too. Everything’s important, otherwise it simply wouldn’t need to be done.
Employees with a career mentality are eager to learn more and take on more responsibility. Let them. Just make sure your employees are trained to do the tasks you give them before you make them accountable for any mistakes that may happen.
2. Familiarize Yourself and the Rest of Management With Labor Laws
It’s easy to let yourself slide on labor laws. Most countries and their respective states or provinces have entire large books comprised of hundreds and hundreds of pages detailing what you can and cannot do to the employees of your business. The list can be pretty exhaustive.
However, even familiarizing yourself and your management staff with the most basic of rules can keep you out of trouble with government compliance agencies and employees themselves. Remember, if you don’t know the rules, there’s certainly someone on your staff who knows all the rules and will not be afraid to share that information with other staffers!
Understand how to discipline employees – up to and including firing them when things aren’t working out. Make sure documentation is provided to them where it should be. Don’t force them to do the unsafe or unethical.
Just as important is that you understand your rights and what actions you need to take when a labor law complaint is started in your company.
3. Be Professional – Remember You’re Not Friends
Employees from all over are as just guilty of being too casual with their bosses, as their managers so often are with them. This is doubly true in small businesses where more tight knit working atmospheres can flourish.
Unfortunately, being an employee’s friend can quickly backfire when it comes time to discipline them, or worse, when they ask for a favor that can set the business back in one way or another.
Be friendly but professional. It’s up to you to set the boundaries. Whatever you do, don’t allow the lines between friend and manager to become unclear among all involved.
4. Be a Masterful Communicator
If you know you’re not, recognize it and make amendments to how you deal with staff when miscommunication happens. Worse than a plain bad communicator is a sub-par communicator who has no idea, or refuses to acknowledge this weakness. Your staff will never be happy and will never likely be able to make you happy without a lot of learning and guesswork.
Verbalize your expectations and back them up with a professionally written employee handbook that details each job description, including procedures that need to be used for making complaints against you or other coworkers, requesting time off, how lunches and breaks need to be staggered, etc.
Be as transparent as possible. Answer all questions about the business – past, present and future – honestly. And always offer constructive criticism with firm, yet fair suggestions for improvement.
5. Be a Consistency Beacon
There’s so much that can change in an hour, even at the most well run businesses; whether it’s a rabidly angry customer rattling everyone’s cage, or an employee having a bad day and spreading their mood throughout the staff like a raging California wildfire.
You need to be the beacon of stability and hope, even under the most dire circumstances. The one everyone looks to for strength. You are the leader after all!
Treat everyone the same and never let them see you sweat when times are tough, including when you’re being challenged by a customer, coworker, or subordinate.
6. Always learn the craft – always!
Leadership and management are skills that should be honed on a regular basis. Always look for networking events that can add value to your startup and find resources that can guide you on how to be more effective and efficient as a startup owner/manager.
Resources like Office Small Business Academy can offer you thought leadership, ideas and tips that enhance your startup’s growth. You can learn from the experts, such as Carol Roth (investment banker, investor and best-selling author,) Steve Strauss (CEO of TheSelfEmployed.com and best-selling author,) and Christi Olson (Microsoft Search Evangelist), in the form of webcasts, articles, e-books and infographics.