Managing people when you're not a natural

(7 Posts)
RichInBunlyGoodness Wed 12-Feb-14 21:52:55

Anyone started out struggling with managing staff and got better?

DH and I run a small business (food producers/cafe) and we have 4 staff. Management has never been our strong suit and I particularly lack confidence in that area.

Whenever I try to look online for tips on managing people it's all too formal. I don't want to do appraisals and what not just to be better at communicating with and getting more from staff. Any tips or reading suggestions gratefully received.

EBearhug Wed 12-Feb-14 22:04:03

Instead of looking for tips on managing people, why not look for advice on the specifics you're interested in, like communication skills?

I can understand not wanting to do formal appraisals, but they can be useful, and whether you formalise the process or not, it's worth considering the value of goal setting. People are more likely to achieve what you want if the objective is clear to them, even if it's not part of a formal appraisal system. If you've got clear goals, it's easier to track your progress (or your staffs' progress) against them.

Also, it's worth looking up some tips on giving feedback. Again, it will be something you need to do, even if it's not part of a formal appraisal system, but just talking about how things are going, what you want them to be doing, what went well, what hasn't gone so well.

EBearhug Wed 12-Feb-14 22:06:15

And above all, respect and fairness.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 13-Feb-14 16:11:05

Hi OP sorry to hear you are struggling a bit, but it is good to want to improve. However many people I have managed I always find some a new employee would then bring new challenges I hadn't experienced before! Don't feel that everybody else is out there loving managing people and finding it easy....

When you say "producer" I imagine (maybe completely wrongly!) a laid back farm/wholefood shop & cafe. This could give the impression to employees that it is all about the relax vibe, when actually you are running a business.

I understand where you are coming from re appraisals but if you generally don't have the structures and processes that an office has (for instance) it won't be helping with the culture/idea employees of the business.

Are you clear about what you require of them? It starts with a job spec, it continues with on the job training and feedback and then you need to manage it through monitoring/asking them for feedback as to what has been done and needs to be done.

If you find communicating difficult is it something you actually shy away from? When actually you should be doing more of it. I used to have monthly 121s with staff. It was a chance for both sides to give feedback. Do you have staff meetings too? It can be good to get everybody together so they can all hear the same thing at once etc. I imagine it is difficult if people are on different shifts etc but it could be worth trying to make it work.

If you don't have formal meetings, why not set them up and trial them?

That any help?

FunkyBoldRibena Thu 13-Feb-14 16:18:38

Whenever I try to look online for tips on managing people it's all too formal. I don't want to do appraisals and what not just to be better at communicating with and getting more from staff. Any tips or reading suggestions gratefully received.

Problem is, without it being formal, nobody knows what is to be expected and that's when people start to take the piss.

Inductions, policies, H&S, insurance, targets, performance plans, training, feedback; these are the basics of management of people. If you don't put any of them in place, then you are supporting them to benefit your business. Every one of my staff members has a performance plan; a very simple plan that keeps them working in the right direction as otherwise, how do they know what exactly you want them to do?

Taking short cuts often ends in disaster. You are an employer and thus, the formal route is the only way to go.

RichInBunlyGoodness Thu 13-Feb-14 22:18:47

Thanks for the replies. Margot you're not a million miles away with the type of the business we run. I think our fairly relaxed nature can sometimes result in employees not recognising we're running a business.

I read something last night after posting about good management being about relating and requiring. I think we're good at the relating, we have good relationships with staff, listen, make them feel valued etc but we're less good at the requiring, we don't make our expectations clear enough or have clearly defined goals etc.

Think we will start with thinking about what we expect/need from staff and then have a staff meeting to talk about where the business is going and how we want them to contribute.

On a personal level I'm not very assertive and find it difficult to give negative feedback or pick staff up on things. Its something I struggle with in life generally but I lack confidence at work in particular. In the last 4 years I've had two lots of maternity leave and have been part time so I guess I just feel a bit on the back foot with how things operate in the shop.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Fri 14-Feb-14 16:46:38

'Relating and requiring' sounds like a good way to tackle it. As does a staff meeting. Staff can also offer ideas etc if you set up a good way for them to feedback, so you can also 'receive' from staff meetings too.

Re picking people up on things. Can you identify (privately) the things you most want them to change/stop/do and work on picking them up on one thing at a time with the most important first? If might seem less daunting than feeling they do loads of things that need improving and you have to deal with them all.

And can DH give you a training session out of hours, if you feel you need to know more about how things work/run? Might help your confidence?

Good luck with the meeting.

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