Managing People

Managing People

Business organizations are inherently social organizations. There are relationships between employees and their bosses, employees and other employees, employees and customers, employees and vendors, the business and its outside consultants, and many other types of social interactions that can each cause problems of some sort. 

Managing people may just be the most difficult type of problem to deal with.

It would be nice if we were all well-schooled in psychology and could avoid people problems by simply not hiring or associating with people that have the potential of causing problems.  But that is unrealistic in many ways other than the obvious.  You simply never know who might or might not be a problem individual under stress.  No amount of psychological training is going to equip the small business owner to make such a determination and be 100 percent accurate.

There is also no way to know how effective an individual is going to be for an organization.  A person may be nice, kind, polite, have a great educational background and a good work history, but just cannot function well in your organization.  Is this the fault of the individual or the organization?  How can you tell?

The stakes are high.  More than a few small businesses have been ruined because the entrepreneur made poor decisions relative to the people he or she chose to associate with and how relationships with these individuals were maintained.

Not all problems with people are related to personality.  In fact, most problems that small businesses must face relate to the inability of the business to train employees for the tasks
for which they are to be responsible.

There is a major difference here in the capabilities of large and small organizations.  Large organizations generally have a formalized training structure in place for new hires.  Small
organizations generally rely on on-the-job training carried out by individuals who themselves have been poorly trained and thus are in no position to train anyone else.

Business is transacted by people.  If the people who work for the business are poorly trained it will always reflect negatively on the bottom line. 


Managing People - Training

It is critical that new employee training be carried out by people who are both knowledgeable in the subject matter of the training and capable of training effectively.  If no employees meet these criteria, then a trainer or trainers must be brought in from the outside.

Poorly trained employees create more problems than just errors in their work product.  They also become a drain on morale and can create problems with other employees, customers and vendors. .

It is not uncommon for employees of small businesses to feel unappreciated.  Larger organizations have structures in place to recognize employee achievements and are better able to reward outstanding efforts financially.

Small businesses make a number of mistakes in this area.  Some examples are:

  • Treating employees as though they are easily replaceable.

  • Failure to provide reasonable benefits.

  • Little or no recognition of outstanding accomplishments.

  • Failure to respect the value of employees' time.

  • Failure to ask for and respect employees' opinions.

Entrepreneurs sometimes treat employees like they are family, and this is generally a good thing.  It can become a negative, however.  People generally expect their families to help them out to the greatest extent possible while expecting little or nothing in return.  They do it because they are family.  Your employees will never BE family.  They need more appreciation and recognition than family will ever need.

Employees are the life-blood of any business organization.  It is critical that employees feel like they are part of the team, are respected, and are well compensated, and that their efforts are truly appreciated by the owners.  Small businesses that look at employment costs first when seeking to control or reduce expenses are making a mistake that can be deadly.

It is important that employees, customers, vendors and others that have relationships with a business trust the owners.  There are bad companies where owners intentionally create an atmosphere of mistrust for purposes of control, but we w ill no t address those situations because there is really nothing to say about them.

But in other cases, owners create an atmosphere of mistrust without meaning to.  This can happen when an owner fails to recognize the contributions of employees and where owners fail to deliver on their promises whether they are promises made to employees, vendors or customers.

Vendors and customers will simply refuse to do business with an organization they can feel they can no longer trust.  Employees will be constantly on the lookout for another job opportunity and job performance will suffer.  Business results of operations suffer in direct proportion to this growth of mistrust.

Small business owners need to always be mindful of their actions and the consequences.  For example where the owners regularly pocket the cash from cash sales made by the business.  The cash they take is properly accounted for in all ways but the employees do not necessarily know that. Some employees think they are stealing from the business and cheating on their taxes.  Some have even lodged complaints with taxing authorities, (anonymously, of course).  All of this could be avoided by following simple procedures designed to eliminate the appearance of impropriety.

Bottom line?  Sometimes owners tend to think of their business as an extension of their personal lives and personal checkbook and do things they would never think of doing if they were the CEO of a business they did not own.  This always creates problems in some fashion.   Small businesses must create procedures that build trust and operate in compliance with them.

Managing Talent

Management Tips

Managing People - Building Character

Entrepreneurs must build the character of the organization. Businesses have a reputation just like individuals do and that reputation is key to continued success.

A "team" is not just people who work at the same time in the same place. A real team is a group of very different individuals who share a commitment to working together to achieve common goals. Most likely they are not all equal in experience, talent or education, but they are equal in one vitally important way, their commitment to the good of the organization. Any group of people -- your family, your workplace or your community -- gets the best results by working as a team.

We all want to be part of something bigger than we are. Team relationships fulfil that basic need. They are an immensely powerful force, yet they always need to be nurtured. Be sure to show each team member exactly how far reaching his or her contribution can be. The team, each member, and the larger organization will enjoy greater enthusiasm and ultimately greater success.

What makes a team? Individuals who are not equal in talent, experience or education, but equal in commitment. It is not realistic to think we can live or work with others without some conflict, but by communicating about the differences, focusing on the common goals and not throwing verbal rocks, we will make great strides. .

Managing People - Delegation

How to delegate work to other people

Delegation involves passing responsibility for completion of work to other people. This section examines the reasons you should delegate, how to delegate, failure to delegate and what should not be delegated.

Delegation is useful for the following reasons:

  • Once people have learned how to work with you, they can take responsibility for jobs you do not have time to do.

  • You can develop people to look after routine tasks that are not cost-effective for you to carry out

  • It transfers work to people whose skills in a particular area are better than yours, saving time.

  • Transfer of responsibility develops your staff, and can increase their enjoyment of their jobs

The ideal position to reach as a business owner is one where your staff carry out all the routine activities of your team. This leaves you time to plan, think, and improve the efficiency of what you are doing.

How to delegate

The following points may help you in delegating jobs:

Deciding what to delegate:

One way of deciding what to delegate is simply to list the things that you do which could be more effectively done by someone either more skilled in a particular area, or less expensive. Alternatively you may decide to use your activity log as the basis of your decision to delegate: this will show you where you are spending large amounts of time on low yield jobs.

Select capable, willing people to carry out jobs:

How far you can delegate jobs will depend on the ability, experience and reliability of your assistants. Good people will be able to carry out large jobs with no intervention from you. Inexperienced or unreliable people will need close supervision to get a job done to the correct standard. However if you coach, encourage and give practice to them you may improve their ability to carry out larger and larger tasks unsupervised.

Delegate complete jobs:

It is much more satisfying to work on a single task than on many fragments of the task. If you delegate a complete task to a capable assistant, you are also more likely to receive a more elegant, tightly integrated solution.

Explain why the job is done, and what results are expected:

When you delegate a job, explain how it fits into the overall picture of what you are trying to achieve.

Ensure that you communicate effectively:

  • the results that are needed

  • the importance of the job

  • the constraints within which it should be carried out

  • the deadlines for completion

  • internal reporting dates when you want information on the progress of the project

Once you have decided to delegate a task, let your assistant get on with it. Review the project on the agreed reporting dates, but do not constantly look over their shoulders. Recognise that your assistants may know a better way of doing something than you do. Accept that there may be different ways of achieving a particular task, and also that one of the best ways of really learning something is through making mistakes. Always accept mistakes that are not caused by idleness, and that are learned from.

Give help and coach when requested:

It is important to support your subordinates when they are having difficulties, but do not do the job for them. If you do, then they will not develop the confidence to do the job themselves.

Accept only finished work:

You have delegated a task to take a work load off you. If you accept only partially completed jobs back, then you will have to invest time in completing them, and your assistant will not get the experience he or she needs in completing projects.

Give credit when a job has been successfully completed:

Public recognition both reinforces the enjoyment of success with the assistant who carried out the task and sets a standard for other employees.

Some Business Owners Never Delegate.

Despite the many advantages of delegation, some business owners never delegate.

This can be for the following reasons:

Lack of time:

Delegating jobs does take time. In the early stages of taking over a job you may need to invest time in training people to take over tasks. Jobs may take longer to achieve with delegation than they do for you to do by yourself, when coaching and checking are taken into account. In time, with the right people, you will find that the time taken up reduces significantly as your coaching investment pays back.

Perfectionism - fear of mistakes:

Just as you have to develop staff to do jobs quickly without your involvement, you will have to let people make mistakes, and help them to correct them. Most people will, with time, learn to do jobs properly.

Enjoying 'getting my hands dirty':

By doing jobs yourself you will probably get them done effectively. If, however, your assistants are standing idle while you do this, then your department will be seriously inefficient. Bear in mind the cost of your time and the cost of your department's time when you are tempted to do a job yourself.

Fear of surrendering authority:

Whenever you delegate, you surrender some element of authority (but not of responsibility!) This is inevitable. By effective delegation, however, you get the benefits of adequate time to do YOUR job really well.

Fear of becoming invisible:

Where your department is running smoothly with all routine work effectively delegated, it may appear that you have nothing to do. Now you have the time to think and plan and improve operations (and plan your next career step!)

Belief that staff 'are not up to the job':

Good people will often under-perform if they are bored. Delegation will often bring the best out of them. People who are not so good will not be effective unless you invest time in them. Even incompetent people can be effective, providing they find their level. The only people who cannot be reliably delegated to are those whose opinions of their own abilities are so inflated that they will not co-operate.

It is common for people who are newly promoted to managerial positions to have difficulty delegating. Often they will have been promoted because they were good at what they were doing. This brings the temptation to continue trying to do their previous job, rather than developing their new subordinates to do the job well.

What should not be delegated?

While you should delegate as many tasks as possible that are not cost effective for you to carry out, ensure that you do not delegate the control of your team. Remember that you bear ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of what you are trying to achieve.

Effective delegation involves achieving the correct balance between effective control of work and letting people get on with jobs in their own way.

Everyone knows that daily exercise is critical to our long-term health and well being. No one can age gracefully without such a habit. It keeps us fit, flexible, and fertile. Yet many people think of this as a chore that they only get around to sporadically. Who has the time or energy for that? Reframing the problem can help.

One such approach is the "10,000 Steps a Day" program, developed in Japan and recently endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine. All it takes is an inexpensive pedometer that clips to your belt or waistband. The program's goal is just what it says: take 10,000 steps a day. Unlike other exercise programs, this one goes all the time. From the moment you get out of bed in the morning to the moment you get into bed in the evening, every step counts.

Without any real effort, and just by reframing the problem, daily exercise becomes a daily habit (unless you never get out of bed). Your focus becomes the movement of life instead of finding 30 minutes to exercise. Everything shifts and becomes effortless. Suddenly you'll start taking the furthest parking space, in order to add steps. You may start taking the stairs rather than an elevator or going for a walk with a client instead of doing lunch. And at the end of the day, when you show 8,000 steps, you may go for a short walk in order to top off the count.

In other words, you'll start doing all the things the doctors want you to do -- but you'll do them your own way, in your own time, and with your own wisdom. That's how reframing the problem works. It gives you the time, energy, and motivation that you have heretofore lacked.

Or take all those boring meetings that you have to go to at work. How much more productive you could be if you didn't have to waste your time sitting in meetings that always seem to talk about the same issues without ever making any real progress! How much more fulfilled you could be if you didn't have to make an appearance at events that really have nothing to do with your primary interest or concern! Or so it seems.

One way to reframe this problem is to develop your own secret agenda for the meeting. Decide to pay attention to something or someone you find interesting. Don't just be a participant, be a participant observer. Count how many times the convener of the meeting laughs. Notice people's nervous habits (fingernail biting, hair twirling, etc.) and observe whether they practice them with more or less frequency as the meeting goes on (you might even time them). Watch the power shifts. Who is aligned with whom at the beginning of the meeting? At the end of the meeting?

When the meeting is over, write your observations down in a reflective journal. Why did you choose what you chose? Was it as interesting as you thought it would be? Did you notice something that was even more interesting? What do your observations say about the organization? About you as person? If you were going to write a novel about someone who goes to these meetings, what could you say about their life that would account for their behavior in the meeting?

It is possible to function on this level and on the level of the meeting itself. One can pay attention to someone or something interesting without losing sight of the agenda. That's what it means to be a participant observer. Once you make the shift, you may never have a boring meeting again.

Managing People - Leadership.

Here are some keys to getting people to follow your leadership.

  • Inspire and Challenge Them. People want to be inspired. They want to be encouraged to think bigger and better things. They want to look for and climb big mountains. They want to have someone help them dream their biggest dreams. That’s inspiration! They also want someone to set the high bar for them. They want someone to tell them that they can and should aim higher and go for more. That’s challenge! Show them the lofty heights, because not many others are. And the one who does is the one who will lead them.

  • Teach Them. One of the greatest leadership development programs in the world is at General Electric. Jack Welch has personally devoted himself to its growth. And he has spent thousands and thousands of hours there himself, teaching in a classroom setting. He knows that information must be communicated. Take the time and be patient. Teach those who follow you how to go. Don’t be condescending because in the process, you will probably learn something yourself!

  • Empathize With Them. OK, it’s almost cliché by now, but the saying, “I feel your pain” worked! Why? Because people want their leaders to feel their pain. They want them to know what it feels like when it is hard or when it is work. This doesn’t mean every board meeting has to be a touchy-feely sob-fest, but we ought to do more than tell our followers to “Suck it up soldier!” This day and age, that doesn’t fly. They want to know that you understand what they are going through and that you care. Sit down with them. Ask questions about the situation. And follow up with them.

  • Strategize With Them. Some, but very few people want to be told what to do and then left alone. Most would like some direction and help in the area of strategy. Take the time to plot out the plan of action. Even if you know it, it is best to not just hand it over and say, “Now do it.” Take them step-by-step so they learn how to do it themselves. Remember, we aren’t just trying to get the job done; we are trying to get the job done and create new leaders under us. This is an investment!

  • Dream With Them. Take an interest in what it is that they want to accomplish in their life. Give them opportunity to dream about what your organization or business can become. Let them, encourage them, to dream big dreams, and then do all you can to share that dream, foster that dream, and make that dream a reality! Let them know that you are committed to them achieving their dreams and they will follow you to the ends of the earth!

  • Encourage Them to Shoot for the Stars. This is closely aligned with having them dream, but this has more to do with the size of their dream! Most people will underestimate what they can do or what they want to accomplish. Most people have much more potential than they realize, let alone live up to. Help them by encouraging them to stretch their dreams so they are even bigger and greater than their first plan.

  • Communicate Honestly and Clearly With Them. People who follow want their leaders to be honest with them. They act of following is based on believing that you are being told the truth about where you are going! Be open about the positives and the negatives. People can take it and if you make them integral to the solutions, then even tough problems become a chance for teamwork! Communicate in many ways: written, verbal etc. Just do it regularly so they know what the plan is, where you are going, what time departure is and the estimated time of arrival.

The Management Plan

Managing a business requires more than just the desire to be your own boss. It demands dedication, persistence, the ability to make decisions and the ability to manage both employees and finances. Your management plan, along with your marketing and financial management plans, sets the foundation for and facilitates the success of your business.

Like plants and equipment, people are resources-they are the most valuable asset a business has. You will soon discover that employees and staff will play an important role in the total operation of your business. Consequently, it's imperative that you know what skills you possess and those you lack since you will have to hire personnel to supply the skills that you lack. Additionally, it is imperative that you know how to manage and treat your employees. Make them a part of the team. Keep them informed of, and get their feedback regarding, changes. Employees oftentimes have excellent ideas that can lead to new market areas, innovations to existing products or services or new product lines or services which can improve your overall competitiveness.

Your management plan should answer questions such as:

  • How does your background/business experience help you in this business?

  • What are your weaknesses and how can you compensate for them?

  • Who will be on the management team?

  • What are their strengths/weaknesses?

  • What are their duties?

  • Are these duties clearly defined?

  • If a franchise, what type of assistance can you expect from the franchisor?

  • Will this assistance be ongoing?

  • What are your current personnel needs?

  • What are your plans for hiring and training personnel?

  • What salaries, benefits, vacations, holidays will you offer? If a franchise, are these issues covered in the management package the franchisor will provide?

  • What benefits, if any, can you afford at this point?

If a franchise, the operating procedures, manuals and materials devised by the franchisor should be included in this section of the business plan. Study these documents carefully when writing your business plan, and be sure to incorporate this material. The franchisor should assist you with managing your franchise. Take advantage of their expertise and develop a management plan that will ensure the success for your franchise and satisfy the needs and expectations of employees, as well as the franchisor.

Managing People - Strategies

Work Flows  

  • Organize for efficiency or innovation

  • Organize for control or flexibility

  • Use specialized or broad job categories

  • Use detailed or loose work planning


  • Use internal or external recruitment

  • Who makes hiring decision

  • What’s important in hiring

Employee separations

  • How to downsize

  • Hiring freeze

  • Support for terminated employees

  • Preferential or non-preferential rehiring process

Performance appraisal

  • Customized or uniform appraisals

  • Appraisal for developmental or control purposes

  • Multipurpose or focused appraisals

  • Use multiple or one input

Training and development

  • Buy or develop skills

  • Individual or team-based training

  • On-the-job or external training

  • Job-specific or generic training


  • Fixed-pay or variable system

  • Job-based or individual pay

  • Seniority-based or performance based system

  • Centralize or decentralize pay decisions

Employee and labor relations

  • Top-down or bottom-up communications

  • Interactions with labor unions

  • Adversarial or cooperative relationship

Employee rights

  • Use discipline as control or learning

  • Protect employees’ or organization’s rights

  • Formal or informal ethics program

Current HRM Strategies

  • Employees as significant resource

  • High-tech human resources approach

Management can be defined as "getting things done through others." To be a manager you must be an expert at persuading and influencing others to work in a common direction. This is why all excellent managers are also excellent low-pressure salespeople. They do not order people to do things; instead, they persuade them to accept certain responsibilities, with specific deadlines and agreed-upon standards of performance. When a person has been persuaded that he or she has a vested interest in doing a job well, he or she accepts ownership of the job and the result. Once a person accepts ownership and responsibility, the manager can step aside confidently, knowing the job will be done on schedule.

In every part of your life, you have a choice of either doing it yourself or delegating it to others. Your ability to get someone else to take on the job with the same enthusiasm that you would have is an exercise in personal persuasion. It may seem to take a little longer at the beginning, but it saves you an enormous amount of time in the completion of the task.

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A key form of leverage that you must develop for success in America is other peopleís knowledge. You must be able to tap into the brain power of many other people if you want to accomplish worthwhile goals. Successful people are not those who know everything needed to accomplish a particular task, but more often than not, they are people who know how to find the knowledge they need.

What is the knowledge that you need to achieve your most important goals? Of the knowledge required, what knowledge must you have personally in order to control your situation, and what knowledge can you borrow, buy, or rent from others?

It has been said that, in our information-based society, you are never more than one book or two phone calls away from any piece of knowledge in the country. With on-line computer services that access huge data bases all over the country, you can usually get the precise information you require in a few minutes by using a personal computer. Whenever you need information and expertise from another person in order to achieve your goals, the very best way to persuade them to help you is to ask them for their assistance.

Almost everyone who is knowledgeable in a particular area is proud of their accomplishments. By asking a person for their expert advice, you compliment them and motivate them to want to help you. So donít be afraid to ask, even if you donít know the individual personally.

Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action:

  1. First, multiply your output and rewards by persuading other people to do the job for you and do it well. Delegation is the key to personal leverage.

  2. Second, identify the most important knowledge you need to do an excellent job and then concentrate on finding and using that knowledge.

The person who can find the knowledge in others is often more valuable than the person who possesses it.

A strong Business Plan may not guarantee success; but it could certainly prevent failure!

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