Look Within to Move Your Small Business Ahead
By Johnna Major
You are the founder of a young, growing company and you've just hired a new employee for a key role. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs possess one of a pair of broad personality types that may get in the way of that new star employee from performing at their highest level and in turn keep your company on the fast track to success.
Understanding which "type" of entrepreneur you are can help you spot these potential obstacles, avoid flawed assumptions and help you retain that new hire you spent all that time and money to find.
Assumption: Of Course They'll Share My Passion
Many businesses are successful due to the passion and vision of their entrepreneurial owner. As a business grows and new employees join the company, the owner may expect all of his employees to share this same level of passion, vision and excitement about the business. Some may share it, but, for many employees, it could be just a job.
If you are a visionary, you probably expect employees to share your passion and vision, assume your staff is clear about what needs to be done and feel frustrated and resentful if they don't. Vision and passion are great for the long-term view and big picture, but don't forget to give employees enough down and dirty details to help them understand how to get there.
Here's What the "Visionary" Owner Can Do:
- Share your excitement and enthusiasm - keep the employees engaged in what you are trying to do, as this is a great source of motivation.
- Don't expect your employees to share the same level of enthusiasm and commitment that you bring. You should definitely look for people who share your vision and interest in the business, but don't be disappointed if they're not willing to work 24/7 for your business.
- Have high expectations, but make sure to communicate with them up front - through the interview process, through the first few months of the job, and then on an ongoing basis. Be clear and specific about what you want done and what results you expect to see.
- Don't assume that because you see and understand your vision that your employees understand what you want done to get there. Be as clear as you can be on what needs to be done and how that will help the business reach that vision.
'Close to the Vest' Type
Assumption: This is My Business - I Don't Need to Share Anything with My Employees
As businesses grow and bring on new employees, some owners may have a tendency to keep information closely held and give employees only the basic information required to do their job.
Unfortunately, this "close to the vest" style can convey a lack of trust. It can also hamper employee motivation to do a great job, since they have little information on where the business is going, the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and how they can make a difference in helping you reach your goals.
Here's What the "Close to the Vest" Owner Can Do:
- Communicate as much as you can about business goals, strategies, challenges and opportunities. Regular "water cooler" talks or informal stand up meetings to keep employees apprised of what's going on helps foster buy-in and support.
- Empower your employees to do their jobs. Give them the information and resources needed and let them do their job, don't micromanage.
- Delegate well. Set clear expectations, and schedule regular check-ins to make sure the employee is on track.
- Remember, you don't have to figure things out by yourself. Engage your employees in problem solving. They are often closest to the customers and your business processes and may come up with the best solutions to problems you are facing.
The most important thing is to understand which type of entrepreneur you are and to be mindful of your own strengths and weaknesses. Determining your type and how it contributes to the experience of an employee in your business can be just the tonic your company needs to reach the next level.