• Friday, June 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Managing people issues in SMEs

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People remain the most important asset in any business, even with the invention of specialized technology. People will always remain a major component in developing and managing these technologies.

Challenges faced by SMEs in people management remain high turnover due to poor compensation and remuneration. Also, absence of a clearly defined career path and issues of one man ownership, where arbitrary powers are wielded, remain major deterrents in people management. Non-inclusion of employees in decision making by most of these small businesses also affect the morale of staff leaving them without any sense of ownership.

Promoters of small business have their share of issues emanating from employees, which include poor attitude, lack of adequate skills and competence to do the work. There is the issue of loyalty, where employees don’t give their best or steal information to start their own business or sell information to competitors.

All these issues will forever raise its head in any business, but that does not take away the need for small business promoters to put in place structures to support their business growth.

Every large scale business in existence today is built by people who have been trained in the culture and processes of the organisation. Successful companies do not just hire competent hands; they make them adaptable to their own culture and offerings, through trainings, coaching and other forms of capacity building initiatives.

The first stage in managing people issues is first to define the kinds of people your company should have. Are you looking at hiring people with entrepreneurial mindset or those that need to be instructed to do things and don’t use their initiatives? Selection is critical to developing a competent team. Promoters of SMEs should learn to hire for attitude than for skill, because people with good attitude can undertake any assignment due to their ability to learn and adapt.

Hiring people with excellent customer service, sales orientation and a good attitude is key. Never hire because the person has a certification in Customer Service or is a Chartered Marketer (though certifications are good). Small business owners do not have the luxury of having failed hires!

You need to know if they are friendly and have good disposition towards people. Every small business promoter should look at hires that make sales easy and achievable. A small business selection process should not be focused towards just passing an aptitude test. They should be chosen based to the ability to perform the task at hand, i.e. what they are recruited to do.

Getting prospective candidates to understand their job role and how they are expected to perform it is critical in any selection process. Small business owners always make the mistake of using the same model utilized by big companies in selecting their employees, which eventually affect the general turnover in their business. The method of selection for a typical medium to large- scale enterprise is usually standardized and different from what a small business should embark upon.

Capacity building or training in small business can be alien because they believe it’s a big budget activity and their budget as a small business might not accommodate it. But there is nothing wrong is asking for pro bono services from knowledgeable experts to share ideas with your team once in a while. People can also be asked to research into topics of importance and be made to present to the entire team. This can be done periodically and rotated amongst employees.

Performance should be measured with realistic parameters, considering the size and scope of the business. Attitude should be ranked significantly in analyzing performance in any small business. Poor performances should be discussed with employees and solutions prescribed. A lot of one-on-one coaching is needed in small business as compared to medium and large scale businesses.

Communicating strategies and plans is also very important in Small businesses. Employees need to know where their company is headed for them to know if they fit into the big picture of the company. Employees without a sense of belonging will always look for the next available shop to absorb them. This is where most business owners fail in small business. They feel they do not owe their workers any explanation for their actions and decisions. This is not true as they cannot build the company alone. A tree cannot make a forest!

Small business structures give room for a challenging environment. A small business is always in its growth stage to a medium enterprise. Moreover, People love when you give them new task, which will challenge their expertise. They get a sense of fulfilment in such assignments and project, which in most times matter more than the money or remuneration attached to it.

Though, if your pay peanuts you employ monkeys! Small business owners do not need to break the bank to pay their employees; but they need to be considerate and fair. Remunerations should not be at the detriment of the company. Also, employees should not be slaving for the promoters who cart away all the proceeds from the business and divert them to other personal ventures or endeavours.

Finally, Empathy is the most important thing needed by small business owners in managing their people. When you show you care for your staff, they will put in their best, which will ultimately result in good performance.

Though, the major complaint from promoters is the issue of disloyalty from employees even after showing kindness and providing conducive working environments. True. The issue is that people will always move or leave. Every business promoter today left from somewhere to start up what they own. The important thing is to depart on a good note, as your former employees might turn out to be in the position to recommend vendors for their new place of work, which you might be one.

A good brand will always have people at the centre of their business. Their people are the ones that will project the brand and provide the needed experience to the customers.

The bottom line is: when you give your employees your heart by showing empathy, they will give you their brains through excellent performance on the job!

Olayinka Dada