Many small business owners are masters of their industry, but when it comes to managing a company, a new and different set of skills is necessary. According to the US Census, 38% of small businesses have 5 or more employees. That’s more than two million businesses that rely on strong leadership and employee relationships to keep their companies running smoothly. This month, in honor of National Boss’s Day, we’re taking a look at what it takes to be a great leader for your small business.
Make the right hires.
Laszlo Bock, the SVP of People Operations at Google and the author of Work Rules, has said the key to a company’s success is to “hire amazing people, give them more freedom than you’re comfortable with, provide targeted real-time coaching, and forgive failure as long as people learn.” When hiring, look for people who not only have the necessary skills but also share the same vision and values as you.
Invest time in your employees.
In our Boss’s Day Q&A last year, we talked to a manager-employee pair at Google who admitted that the biggest challenge in building a good working relationship is making time for each other. One suggestion is to schedule a weekly or bi-weekly check-in, which can be used to talk about projects but also to catch up and get to know each other as people.
Set clear expectations.
At Google, we use a system of OKRs – objectives and key results – to set expectations for how employees and teams should perform. These OKRs are set and evaluated quarterly with full transparency to both managers and employees. Small business owners can adopt a similar practice by stating up front (during training or at the beginning of the year) what the key performance indicators are for their employees- for example, generating a certain number of sales or achieving high customer service ratings.
Don’t try to do it all yourself.
There’s a quote that sums up this principle perfectly: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Small business owners – especially those with the solo-preneur gene – often want to do it all themselves. But as you grow your small business, you have to trust those you hire to help you carry your vision to the finish line. A good manager not only delegates responsibility but also gives their employees the freedom to complete tasks their way. This leads to better work and a better working relationship.
Set them up for success.
The most important thing a manager can do is to position their employees for success. This means building a positive work environment and providing the tools and technology to help them do their job better. Tools like Google Apps For Work can help foster creative collaboration and productivity. Eric Schmidt, Alphabet’s executive chairman, said it best: “When you put today’s technology tools in [employees’] hands and give them lots of freedom, they can do amazing things, amazingly fast.”
We’re talking about leadership all month long in the Google Small Business Community. Join us October 16 on National Boss’s Day as we host a live Q&A with Judson Griffin from Namely about being a leader for your small business.