Walking up and down Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver serves as a reminder of the challenges, risks and opportunities that pursuing a small to medium-sized business has.

‘For Lease’ signs seem to be scattered throughout Vancouver, but at the same time, there are many business that thrive. What’s the difference between those that succeed and those that do not?

If you look at the top reasons for business failure, the key one that stands out is poor management. Having worked for small businesses in the past including running my own, I understand how stressful managing the operations are coupled with financial pressures.

Marketing, location and commitment all impact the success of a business and each are quite controllable. Managing people is different. Dealing with the stress of business can lead to behaviours that limit management success such as ego, control, lack of communication and more.

This post aims to give you a ‘leg up’ and help enable more effective business and people management.

Employees want to do good work. They also want to be valued and empowered to make a difference. How can business owners or managers make sure that happens in a smaller operation when you may not have the support larger ones have?

By not engaging and utilizing employees to their full potential, you may be putting your business at risk and could easily become another statistic. The solution is to believe your employees want to contribute to collective success and set them up to do so.

How? There are a few simple steps every leader can take in creating a powerful workforce. It may seem like common sense, but it is surprising how unclear many employees are on what difference they make or what’s expected from them.

1. As an owner/leader, understand what you are trying to achieve. What are your business goals and what kind of work needs to be done in order to achieve them? Remember, change is constant, so should your evaluation of work required.

2. Determine the roles you need and evaluate what skills and behaviours are required to get you there. If they are lacking, get training or source someone who can fulfill what you need.

3. Make sure you clearly define what is expected from each employee, the purpose of their role, and who they need to work with in order to get results. There is power in knowing the ‘who, what and why’ about work.

4. Empower employees to be accountable for certain aspects of the business. It doesn’t have to mean that you are giving up total control – but do you really need to be as involved as you might be. If people know their job, trust that they will make the right decisions and do the best they can in making sure the business is performing at its peak.

5. Facilitate teamwork by making sure everyone knows what everyone else does. Then, get their ideas on how they should work together in order to achieve goals. When employees resolve their own problems, there is more commitment to the solution.

6. Constantly communicate and ask for feedback on you and the business. Encouraging an environment where people feel open to share what’s on their mind will pay huge dividends.

Business owners that can let go of controlling all aspects of a business and give their employees the accountability, authority and capabilities to run operational requirements are better set up to create a business that is innovative and successful — one that thrives, and where the ‘For Lease’ sign goes up only by choice.

Glen Sollors, Senior Consultant

P.S. For more information – see my Whitepaper on Requisite Organization