Olive Strachan North West Export Champion 2016
Inspiring Business North West
phone +44 (0) 161 209 3950

The main focus for any new business will be growth: building a client base, establishing an image for your brand, getting started with social media, et cetera. But while you’re trying to get word of your brilliant new cake shop to potential customers, it’s important to keep an eye on the people who are making the business tick. Very few entrepreneurs are capable of running a successful business single-handedly, and you’re almost certain to need a little help when you’re starting up.

It’s important to look after the people who have been with your company since the very beginning. This could mean your trusty secretary, your ever-vigilant accountant, or just the posse you rounded up to do the manual labour for you; all of these people are valuable to your business, and it’s better to hang on to them than to let them go and replace them with inexperienced new folk. Your initial cohorts are likely to have an emotional attachment to the business, a sense of loyalty that will probably be absent from any future recruits. After all, these people played a part in the company’s creation, and they’ll want to do what they can to keep it afloat!

So the lesson is this: look after the people you start with. A lot of managers encourage their employees to see them as a co-worker rather than The Boss, but this dynamic becomes much harder to achieve when you’re a multi-millionaire business tycoon who works in a separate office with an ensuite bathroom. If you’re keen to create a good relationship with your workforce (and you should be), it’s best to do so when your business is still in its formative stages. In a nutshell, be nice to your employees; this will make them more likely to stick around, and when you do start expanding and adding new faces to the team, the newcomers will be more than happy to get involved in the friendly, all-for-one atmosphere that you’ve been cultivating since the beginning.

  • The people who helped to get your business off the ground will have an emotional stake in the company, which means that they will take a closer interest in your continued success than new recruits will.

  • Keep an eye on your loyal employees. Make sure that they're happy in their work, and that they are content with the way you're handling the business.

  • Remember, it's always better to hang on to a reliable old employee than to replace them with somebody new! Do your best to keep everyone happy (within reason), and you should find that your staff retention stays high.
If you'd like to improve your capability as a manager, there are several OSR training courses that can help. The Effective People Manager course is ideal for people with a lot of managerial responsibility, while the Managing Teams training day can help you to stay on top of your business as it expands and grows. Small business owners are welcome at both events; go to the individual course pages for details. 

As a business manager, you've almost certainly done your fair share of training. Training comes in all shapes and sizes; you might be getting a new recruit up to speed, or helping your more experienced employees to do something a little more advanced, or taking your entire staff out into the wilderness for a full-blown teambuilding weekend. No matter what form it takes, training is pretty much unavoidable. If you want your business to prosper, you're going to have to train somebody, in some way, at some point.

But what of your own training? Being at the top of the corporate heap doesn’t necessarily mean that you know everything there is to know; as Sherlock Holmes once said, “education never ends”. Regardless of what business you’re in, there’s always something else you can learn, and another set of skills you can master. Why rest on your laurels when you can continuously improve your abilities and boost your company’s success?

And it’s not just a matter of moving onwards and upwards. The world of business is always changing, and skills that were highly marketable yesterday could become obsolete by tomorrow. The digital age has shaken everything up, and if you want to make your mark as a business, it’s now nigh-on impossible to do so without mastering the mysterious art of social media. Nobody knew what Twitter was ten years ago, and look at us now.

So by all means train your workers, but don’t forget to train yourself, too! The new skills you’ll acquire could do wonders for your business, and self-improvement always feels good. Give OSR a call on 0161 838 5692 and discuss management training options today – who knows what you might learn?

Leadership is important when you're managing a business. If you’ve seen that Call Centre programme on BBC3, you may remember Nev (the centre’s eccentric boss) comparing himself to Napoleon. While HR headaches and people management aren’t quite on a par with the things Monsieur Bonaparte had to deal with, he’s certainly a healthy role model to have as far as leadership skills are concerned. A good leader is capable of uniting his troops/employees and bringing them all closer to their common goal. Here are a few ways to improve your own business leadership abilities:

Communication is Key

If you want your employees to meet the goals you set for them, make sure they’re clear on what those goals are. If somebody isn’t currently performing as well as they could be, you may find that a quick chat is enough to set them straight. Talk about what you expect from them, and the things you want them to accomplish over the course of a day, week or month. And remember: communication is a two-way street, so listen carefully to anything they have to say too!

United we stand...

Have you ever used the phrase ‘rally the troops’? Because that’s what you want to do every day when you’re managing a business: rally your troops and make them feel as though they’re all working towards something important. Ideally, your employees will work together as a unit, communicating effectively with each other so that everything is nicely co-ordinated. Unifying your team is easier when the team is small – it’s difficult to get hundreds of people working together like a well-oiled machine, but with good management and a little patience, it can be done. A regular team talk is a good way to motivate people and keep them abreast of what you’re currently trying to achieve.

Be nice!

Employees will be a lot more company-loyal if they’ve got a good opinion of the person in charge (i.e. you). Breathing down necks and threatening employees with dismissal may work for some managers, but the atmosphere in your office will be far more positive if you’re friendly and approachable. Some people will tell you that you have to be nasty to make it in business, but you’ll make a far better leader if the people you’re leading actually like you.

If you want to learn more about business leadership, an OSR training course could be exactly what you need. We are running an Influencing & Persuading Skills course on the 20th of June, as well as a Handling Difficult Situations programme on the 27th. Both will do wonders for your leadership skills; if you’d like to book a place on either course, call 0161 838 5692 or email info@olivestrachan.com for more information.

We run so many courses here at OSR, it can sometimes be hard to keep track of them all! If you feel like trying a little training this month, here's a handy list of the courses we'll be delivering in Manchester this month. If you see something you like on this at-a-glance guide, click the course title for more information - or just ring 0161 838 5692 to book your place!

11th June – Interviewing Skills
A good employer-employee relationship starts with the interview. Develop your communication skills and learn how to ask the right questions!

11th June – Managing Workplace Problems
Problem solving is a crucial management skil. Improve your ability to tackle problems and conflicts as soon as they emerge.

12th June – Sales Skills
Selling something over the phone is harder than doing so in person. This course will help to make you a better salesperson!

13th June – Essentials for Managers with Experience
Management and leadership are two different things. This course covers a variety of skills that are central to both.

18th June – Managing Teams
Work together with your team members, and encourage them to work together with each other!

19th June – Performance Management
It’s not the work you’re doing, it’s how well you’re doing it. Boost your employees’ (and your own) performance with this course.

20th June – Influencing and Persuading Skills
The ability to influence other people is a great skill to have in your arsenal. Increase your powers of persuasion and build better working relationships.

25th June – Managing Effective Appraisal
The annual performance review doesn’t have to be tedious and unpleasant. With the skills you’ll learn on this course, you can ensure that your appraisals are geared towards development and improvement.

25th June – Time Management
No matter what your job is, good time management is essential. Learn to prioritise and avoid those last-minute panics!

26th June – Assertiveness
Being assertive doesn’t mean being nasty. There’s a big difference between assertiveness and aggression, and this training day will help you to assert yourself in all the right ways.

27th June – Handling Difficult Situations
Empathy is key if you’re managing a business. This course will help you to understand the people who work for you and resolve any problems you might be having.

If any of that sounded interesting to you, don’t waste any time – course places are limited, and it’s first come, first served! Ring 0161 838 5692 today, or email info@olivestrachan.com.

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