Being a leader

Being a leader

Small businesses these days are very different to years ago. The boss was feared, employees would leave as they felt undermined and so inferior within a business, it was dreaded to go to work and absenteeism was common. Small business has come a long way. Employers need to focus on a new vision, a new business culture, this still starts at the top.

Leading by example has become one the latest trends in business, showing your employees that you are prepared to roll up your sleeves and get the job done. Show them you can work beside them and lend a hand when the chips are down. In the past this was unheard of. The apprentice was the only one who swept the floor, scrubbed the block and cleaned all the glass in the entire shop. The apprentice hairdresser swept all day after the qualified professionals including the head stylist. They then progressed to doing the shampoo’s and assisting with passing foils.

Apprenticeships lasted 4 years and the first 2 years gave little if no progress to the enthusiastic junior. This the resulted in it becoming common for apprentices not to finish and these trades turning to becoming qualified in schools, large business that is all about business, not education. These schools are often rushing students through, some with services available at reduced prices at the school for another revenue stream.

For those that still hire apprentices, good for you, embracing our youth with careers and purpose. For the employee, they hit the pot of gold, that rare opportunity for become qualified from a real tradesperson and being mentored every step of the way.

No matter what industry, we need to embrace those that have no, or limited skills. The right opportunity for the right person will reward your business 10-fold. Even employing older staff, those that come with life experience and great work ethics can assist a small business in meeting its targets. You just can’t go past the right employee.

So, if you have them, you need to cherish them, and I don’t mean give them everything, and I also don’t mean spoil them, but let them know they are valued. Thank them at the end of each day. When they kick a goal, acknowledge it with them. Show them they matter and their contributions are appreciated.

When they are struggling, spend time with them, help them through those difficult times and show them there is light at the end of the tunnel. You see, as the leader, you not only need to lead by example, but you need to have empathy and understanding. It’s the little things that make your employees feel valued and they will give back when you need them to.

Communication is another key to your business/employee’s success. Being open and honest about things such as finances and peaks and troughs in the industry. Keep them informed of the industry movements, both good and bad. Keep them involved and interested.

Of course, this doesn’t work in every circumstance and sometimes things happen behind the scenes that we wouldn’t share with our staff. Serious matters can come and go that might make them feel threatened and insecure. The last thing we want to do is have our employees jump ship when times are tough. We also cannot be the storm cloud of negativity. We have to remain positive for our team. Show them there’s a plan if they do happen to know about something that affects our business and their livelihood.

But rallying together and getting their input can also help you during hard times. Don’t dismiss that your employee might have an idea or a strategy to help the business, at any time. Sometimes they see things from another angle that we don’t, there eyes can be open from an outside in perspective that can be great ideas.

By including them in your business, gives them a higher purpose, that feeling of inclusion and sense of ownership can bring small teams together.

Depending on the business and the team, celebrating together can form stronger relationships. Things like, morning teas for someone’s birthday, lunch outing when a goal is kicked out of the park, and not to mention the Xmas Party, this is a must! An end of year celebration before taking leave or a recognition of the year’s achievements.

Setting goals and targets together regularly can also bring teams together. Some businesses do this weekly, others fortnightly and some can stretch it out to monthly. Having a team meeting can also show a small team that everyone matters and that they are included in what’s going on.

The size and industry of the business can impact this, but regardless of this, try and gather regularly. Start of the week is best to get everyone pumped and on track. Be honest, realistic and ask for their input. Let them be heard and an open workplace will outlast all others.

Forget the hierarchy, ensure above all else, you have a united team. Yes, you are the boss, they won’t forget this, but if you have good working relationships with your team, the hierarchy becomes a holacracy, with all team members working side by side to reach common goals. Not to throw out the org chat just yet, these needs to exist, but they becoming more commonly seen in the company archive and not often referred to out loud.

So, with all this said, who gets the blame when things go wrong? Well that’s part of the point, its not about pointing the finger, with united teams, employees are more likely to admit their short comings and admit when they forgot something, then the team works together to fix it. Having each other’s back and working as a team becomes one of the common goals.

When hiring staff for these types of business structures, its about the right fit. Not for just you, the leader, but the team.  And it goes without saying when someone in the team isn’t meeting the mark, it’s your job as the leader to work with that employee, but essentially to support a holacracy, they need to be somewhat self-motivated and if this isn’t working, they have to go, willingly or be managed out.

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