10 Skills for Every Small Business Management
Companies today look for several broad business management skills among job applicants.
1. Managing budgets
Each company has its own method for managing budgets. In Business management you have to adhere to a budget at all costs. Well, literally. A company’s budget is mostly based on tracking the spending versus time. The CFO of a company can do it, courtesy any good spreadsheet software. They can keep track of monthly spending with the target to keep each activity and project on budget.
The relationship between time and spending, however, may not be linear. Some of the spending could overlap to subsequent months because of project members being transferred, change in milestone dates, or hiring of new staff and/or consultants who have to be mentored before induction into the team. For instance, if none in the project execution team has the required expertise to achieve a late-project deadline, a manager must time the hiring so that the new staff member is not inducted too early in the project and expected to deliver top notch performance from day one itself.
Transferred managers often inherit the budgeting expertise from their predecessors. New inductees have to learn the techniques in their probation period. Sooner or later, they will be required to lead project teams, and lack of budgeting knowledge could let costs spiral out of control.
2. Planning and holding effective meetings
This is a key business management skill and here’s what you can do to make a meeting successful.
- Plan a meeting properly and carry out timely follow-ups. Define the objectives of the meeting, as well as the desired outcome, in the planning phase. Defining what you want to accomplish at the very outset will make the meeting successful.
- Put together an agenda before you go ahead with the meeting. Use it to determine which people must attend the meeting. Ideally, keep the attendee list to the minimum. Send the agenda to all attendees well in advance. Include the meeting’s objective at the top of the agenda. In this way your attendees will be prepared and offer intelligent inputs in the meeting.
- Decide whether you’ll need a facilitator to keep the meeting on track. Experienced facilitators can identify the overlooked areas and redraw focus to them.
- Determine the technology required, ahead of the meeting. Do you require whiteboards, flip charts, LCD projector and a laptop to facilitate your presentation in the meeting? Do you need to depute a person to record the minutes? Keep all these points in mind before convening the meeting.
- The time of the meeting has arrived. Use all the pre-meeting activities to manage your meeting. Ensure that all attendees engage in the agenda and offer appropriate inputs. Use your time management skills to keep each item on the agenda limited to the schedule.
- Post-meetings are equally important. You have to review the actionable points that were decided in the meeting, the persons responsible for each of the actions, and the completion time. The minutes of meeting can remind the attendees of their respective duties and inform the absentees the outcome.
3. Managing by wandering around
Business Management gurus Bob Waterman and Tom Peters, in their epochal book “In Search of Excellence” had famously upheld that business management by wandering around (MBWA) could be very useful in modern business management. However, the skill is largely neglected, given the demands that a manager has to cater.
One may tend to believe that “wandering”, being part of the jargon, sound purposeless. The reality, however, is entirely different. MBWA means walking through the various departments occasionally, in an entirely informal manner, and discussing work with the staff. The MBWA atmosphere is always relaxed. Studies have shown that your staff can express concerns better in such a situation, which they could have otherwise said in a performance review, scheduled months away.
MBWA also helps managers to raise their concerns. Having managers engaged in their work helps the staff to feel that their work is important. That, in turn, strengthens involvement.
Undeniably, the most important skill required in business management is leadership. Business Management is more than mere administration, and taking effective and timely decisions forms an essential part of leadership. Leaders have to collect information, consider alternatives and set a proper course of action.
While taking a decision, managers have to balance tensions between the company’s long-term and short term interests. They also have to consider the constituencies involved: high-level managers, staff members, stakeholders, suppliers, customers, and others. Taking key decisions is usually not easy and may not satisfy all quarters in the company. Taking the correct decision at the correct time is imperative and a key virtue of all business management professionals.
5. Managing external R&D
This is especially true for industrial project management. Industrial research and development (R&D) is being increasingly done via open innovation processes. Works managers and other qualified staff must play a key role to select open innovation partners and help define the terms of partnership with third party organizations. Issues like defining the roles for each partner, project deadlines, terms of involvement and similar things, must be taken care of. In most cases, work with all third parties is closed through contracts. The terms of the contract must be devised in a way that it is beneficial to both sides. This calls for key negotiation skills on part of the works manager.
Once the contract is inked, the manager must be closely involved in maintaining a working relationship between the company and the outside companies.
6. More with less
Most companies today have to work with reduced budgets because of the slow pace of economic recovery. Companies are struggling to come out of the mess and their purse strings are not yet entirely stretchable. Managers have to work under such circumstances i.e. they have to do more with less, a skill that most companies are increasingly looking at.
Changing your HR practices could be a way to negotiate through trying times. Consider hiring an experienced professional to work part-time rather than a full-time employee. Hiring part-timers lead to the same work being done with a lesser impact on the company’s finances. Many unemployed job seekers may be more than willing to work for a lesser pay packet rather than have no employment at all. While it mostly depends on the company’s broader HR policy, the ability to manage more with less is increasingly being considered a key trait in a manager’s resume.
7. Managing opposite priorities
With tight finances and fewer staff, managers today are finding it difficult to balance conflicting priorities. Conflict between the business management and operations are commonplace across all industry verticals and managers have to deal with them. Managers, especially the newly recruited, have to consult their superior at critical junctures. Staff members can also be consulted for how effectively to balance such priorities.
8. Managing diversity
Managers today have to deal with many issues that crop from the ethnic and geographical diversity of staff members. There are racial, gender and cultural issues to battle. Those from the so-called Gen-X and millennials (more commonly known as Gen-Y) have different attitudes from the baby boomers. This is reflected in the work as well. Millennials balance work and family in a different way than their earlier generation. The work pattern also varies. A successful business manager has to deal with these that are often tricky to handle.
While a newly appointed manager may not be expected to deal with delicate issues, they must learn with time what motivates their staff and keep them happy. A policy can be put in place to foster engagement and reward outstanding employees for their performance.
9. Upholding personal integrity
Personal integrity is crucial to retain the respect and trust of your staff and peers. A manager must adhere to a set of ethics. If you don’t know the answer or are barred from divulging information because of corporate confidentiality clauses, you are not supposed to lie, merely to prove a point.
Managers are often confronted with legal and moral choices to tackle a business issue. An ethical choice is what they need to make. For instance, in a leading pharmaceutical company, a patent litigation was developed by a former employee. A part of the lab reports and notebooks were to be properly examined n this regard. At the time of the inspection, it emerged that one of the inventors was left out of the patent application. Though the inventor never complained, the employer did the ethical thing to include the inventor’s name in the patent application, despite the passage of over two years.
In another situation, a promising young chemist lost her job in a layoff. Her colleagues were upset to know about the incident. The departmental manager called the staff and explained the situation. But he lied about why the chemist lost her job. In one moment he lost the respect of the staff and never regained it. The situation adversely affected the manager’s effectiveness and the department’s morale.
10. Learning new skills
Managers are often sent to training programs and business management assignments to refresh their skills. But this is largely restricted to big companies. Smaller firms usually can’t afford training programs, especially at a time when organizations are trying to cut corners. While whatever you learnt at the business school will come in handy in your professional life, capacity building is a continuous trend. You have to brush up your soft skills constantly. You can use your immediate superior as a mentor. Watch him/her carefully. Learn from how he/she tackles a situation. You can then apply the same process to attend and resolve problems.
Even after mastering current responsibilities, you have to grow and learn. Accepting stretch assignments is often a good option to expand your capabilities. It also helps to increase your knowledge base.
In the end
It’s true that you can’t learn all the skills required for a job before starting your professional career. They also vary according to the managerial level you are in. But still, companies today look for several broad business management skills among job applicants. If you are at the executive level, you must be able to convert your ideas into workable strategies. Middle managers, on their part, should be skilled to execute these strategies, delegate tasks and finish projects on time. Line managers, on the other hand, are expected to make good use of both human and material resources while operating plants.
Remember, successful managers are great in interpersonal and relationship building skills. They have to work closely with a team, assign them work and ensure that they get properly trained for the job. They must keep the staff motivated at all times, and are also responsible for hiring and firing them. As a manager, you have to be compassionate, approachable, diplomatic, and above all, have superb communication skillsfor listening to and rewarding your staff.
article courtesy….. https://www.educba.com
Organization and management structures
Managers are people who steer an organisation towards meeting its’ objectives. Management has been described as: ‘the process of planning, organising, leading and controlling the efforts of organisation members and of using all organisational resource to achieve stated organisational goals.’ A manager’s job is to maintain control over the way an organisation does things, and at the same time to lead, inspire and direct the people under them.
In a company the shareholders will elect a board of directors to represent their interests. A Managing Director will be appointed who has overall responsibility for running the company.
The managing director with help from other directors will appoint senior managers to run the company.
The type of managers appointed will depend on the structure of the company. Possible structures will include:
- regional managers when an organisation operates on a regional basis
- functional managers when an organisation is split up into various functions e.g. human resources, finance, sales etc
- departmental managers when an organisation is split up into departments e.g. a school, or a retailing outlet
- general managers – for example, an office or factory may have a general manager who functional managers report to.
Each manager in an organisation is given an area of responsibility. Typically they will have targets and objectives to meet which fit into the organisations overall targets and objectives.
Managers are typically responsible for:
- establishing, prioritising, and making sure that objectives are met
- establishing a framework for communications, and patterns of work within their area of responsibility e.g. department
- communicating targets, goals and results to people that work for them
- motivating employees
- setting out the administrative arrangements for their area of responsibility
- creating, monitoring, and making sure that budgets are achieved.
A key managerial responsibility is for the management of resources.
The sorts of resources that a manager will be responsible for will include:
- people – directing the activities and looking after people
- financial – using financial resources in the best possible way for the organisation in line with profit and sales targets.
- materials – making sure that materials are used in the most productive way with the minimum waste
- machinery and equipment – using the most appropriate machinery and equipment, and making sure that it is maintained, replaced and updated where necessary
- time – ensuring efficient use of time
- buildings – making sure that premises are safe and are being used in the best possible way
- information – making sure that the organisation uses the most effective information processing technologies.
Shareholders are the owners of a company. They hold shares entitling them to a share in the profits and the right to be represented by directors at board meetings. Directors are the elected representatives of shareholders. Executive directors are responsible for ongoing decision making in the business. Non-executive directors provide regular advice to the company but are not directly involved in the day-to-day supervision of the company……………………..
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