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Two Critical People Management Issues Specific to Small Businesses

CoAdvantage – Managing employees is always one of the most challenging aspects of running a business, no matter the industry or company. That said, management issues can be particularly acute for small-to-midsize business owners, who often face difficulties that don’t affect enterprise-sized organizations.

While a small business can have advantages over larger companies in many ways (they can move faster and more nimbly with fewer bureaucratic or communication-related hurdles, for example), its small size can make managing that team harder. Overwhelmed owners trying to do everything and be all things to all people while maintaining control and struggling to compete with larger organizations can face people management problems that enterprises never need to worry about.

Here are two key issues when managing people in a small business environment.

1: Owners try to do everything themselves.

This may be the biggest challenge that small business owners and leaders face. To some degree, small businesses must manage a disproportionate degree of work, because the sheer overhead of running a business – managing payroll, benefits, labor law, etc. – isn’t necessarily reduced to accommodate the small business size.

That leaves the owner scrambling to handle an enormous amount of administrative work in addition to their business’s core, revenue-generating work. Trying to do everything means nothing gets adequate time and attention. Worse, the owner cannot be an expert in everything, so many of the non-core tasks get executed imperfectly, creating risks for the business.

What to do instead: get help.

When it comes to people management, the ideal solution is a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), which will basically take over all the people management work so owners can focus on growing the business, not managing their workforce. A PEO has the added benefit of making enterprise-grade services and benefits available at small business-friendly pricing so that smaller firms can compete more effectively in the labor market.

2: Owners micro-manage.

Small business owners and their first hires are more invested than anyone in their company. Often, it’s not just their work, it’s their life. Moreover, they may well have put their future financial well-being on the line. So, they need everything to be perfect. That can lead to the temptation to micro-manage employees, but this is a frankly destructive habit. It overwhelms the owner, sapping their time, attention, and energy away from more important tasks, even as it alienates the person being micro-managed.

What to do instead: monitor without micro-managing.

Presumably, you hired your people because they know what they’re doing. Let them do it. That frees the owner’s time while giving the employee a sense of agency and ownership over their own work. This doesn’t mean the owner or company leaders stop paying attention; it just means they focus more on outputs and ensuring the work gets done effectively rather than on how specifically it gets done.

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.