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Basic Management Skills

and Business Management Styles

Managing a small business requires, at minimum, basic management skills. But what makes a good manager? It's a number of things. Some hard-to-do business management styles (for example, team-oriented styles) are more successful than others. Why? Because some styles involve engaging employees, and other stakeholders in business, while other styles will 'dis-engage' employees. Understanding the difference between management definition and leadership definition will help you better understand when to manage and when to lead.

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Management skills are important for all business owners and managers.

Traditional management theory includes the following functions of management: planning, decision making, directing (also known as controlling), and measuring (includes reporting).

Individuals who are expected to manage people and/or resources need to understand the basic skills required, and then develop those skills to include more enhanced capabilities and leadershipship attributes.

Basic Management Skills:
What Makes a Good Manager?

Effective managers often use a business plan outline to help them organize their plan. They incorporate easy-to-work-with decision making tips and strategies to make decisions quickly and with a high degree of success.

They build a span of control structure that is manageable. They build a reporting structure that helps them measure business performance.

And then, they act on those results.

Basic Management Skills and Motivation

For those managers who do manage people (along with other resources), you need to understand what motivates employees; how to build employee productivity and employee satisfaction (since the two most often are co-dependent), and how to retain good employees; how to plan, organize, and direct employees and work; how to make decisions; how to solve problems and help teach employees how to problem solve; how to create reporting systems; how to organize for managing change; and how to achieve organizational goals and strategies.

Management vs Leadership: Definition and Differences

I'm not sure who first coined the phrase (it's been around for a long time), but "management is about getting things done through people". I think that definition has expanded, or perhaps contracted, to "management is about getting things done". In other words, you don't necessarily have to manage people; you can manage projects or assignments or systems, etc. to get things done.

And leadership is about being able to look forward to see where the business needs to go, and being able to lead others to follow that direction.

These are big responsibilities.

As a manager, you need to understand what the common business management styles are (autocratic, paternalistic, democratic, and laissez-faire are the most common).

And you need to understand what your style is, and how that style effects business results.

You also need to be aware that you may need to adapt and evolve your style for effectiveness and business growth.

Common Business Management Styles:

  1. Manager is autocratic: Makes all the decisions. Most comfortable in a command and control operating environment. Focus is on the business. Quick decisions. One way communication (from the top down). Many employees find it difficult to work in this type of environment; high turn-over of employees is often a result.
  2. Manager is paternalistic: Prefers to make all the decisions. Focus includes employees and what's best for them. Employees rarely get involved or engaged and expect the 'boss' to make all the decisions.
  3. Manager is democratic: Majority rules; employees are part of the decision making process. Strong two way communication. Consensus decision making slows down the process but employees are engaged.
  4. Manager is 'laissez-faire' (lets you do your own thing) or passive: Employees manage their own responsibilities. The manager is dis-engaged and often hard to find. This type of abdication is often considered by the manager to be delegation. Can work in an environment of creative types (independent) or highly technical (such as engineers). However outcome is usually an organization that lacks direction and focus.

Most managers don't exhibit only one style; they use a mix of styles (consciously or unconsciously). Often the situation will dictate the style used, for example, in crisis, an authoritative style is often used. Situations often dictate the style that the manager feels is necessary to use.

Define Management:
Some of the Qualities of a Manager

  1. Good planners. Good organizers. Good at building strong problem solving techniques and good at making decisions.
  2. People-oriented: they like working with people and build strong business relationships.
  3. Work more in the present than in the future: they are trying to deal with today and tomorrow, not next year.
  4. Time sensitive: focused on getting the work done on time to meet the customer's expectations.
  5. Invested in managing conflict in the workplace and getting resolution to issues.
  6. Don't like constant and/or frequent change: it interferes with their ability to plan and organize. But often have learned to do well at managing change (by necessity).
  7. They like the ability to say the job (act) is done: they like closure.

Basic management skills are the minimum requirement for operating a business successfully.

In a small business environment, the manager is usually also the business owner. So, in addition to being a manager, the business owner needs to be able to lead the company and the business.

However, not all managers can be effective leaders and not all leaders can be effective managers: as a small business owner you need to learn to be good at both and hire or contract for supporting services or functions as necessary (and as your business grows.

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Feedback from Site Visitors:

Hello. I am a professor teaching Human Resources Management. You have an excellent page on writing business value statements entitled your "Value Statement: Develop a Definition of Values in Your Business". I would like to use this page (giving full credit) to teach my students how to write good business value statements for the HR Strategic Plan they are required to prepare. Thank you. Richard C. Brocato, Ph.D. Professor of Management, Maryland, USA

(Note from Kris: I was happy to give permission to use as the source was fully credited.)

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