6 Ways the Best Small Business Managers Set Themselves Apart

March 1st, 2017 Comments off
best managers

The heights a small business can reach depend largely on the competency of management. But what distinguishes an unsuccessful manager from a successful one? Check out these habits of effective small business managers:

  1. They create and promote a vision. A small business leader with a clearly defined mission sets the stage for accomplishing goals. An overall plan keeps everyone on track because tasks can be looked at in the context of what they contribute to the “big picture.” Sharing the vision ups employee engagement by helping workers feel like a part of something great. Similarly, clarity about what your small business stands for builds a solid brand that attracts customers and potential talent alike.
  2. They organize and prioritize. Small business teams juggle an assortment of tasks on a daily basis. To get things done well and on schedule, managers need to possess excellent time-management They also must convey to their staff where to focus efforts, and they watch that workloads do not become too stressful for any individual.
  3. They lead by example. Managers who work hard, treat others with respect and exhibit positive energy set the tone for a thriving workplace. Company culture starts at the top, so smart small business owners assess their own actions and behaviors before looking at anyone else’s.
  4. They encourage others to take ownership. Successful small business managers work diligently to hire people they can trust to perform well. With this capable support system in place, leaders needn’t feel like they must constantly monitor activities or do everything themselves. Some of the best train their employees to be solution-oriented. For instance, when a staff member brings up a problem or complaint, these bosses ask that possible suggestions to fix or remedy it be presented too.
  5. They know when to seek help. Good small business leaders realize that outside assistance can be vital to growth. This might involve hiring experts to implement a tech upgrade or turning to network connections for advice on hiring strategies. In today’s ever-changing global marketplace, reaching out can be the difference between a small business evolving with the times or stagnating.
  6. They communicate. The most successful small business managers put a premium on communication because they see it as the key to building relationships. They solicit input from customers, vendors and employees in order to judge what is working and what needs improvement. They know that listening doesn’t simply mean keeping quiet while others talk, and they truly aim to comprehend and assess what is being said in order to respond accordingly. Lastly, they realize the importance of timely, thoughtful feedback. Constructive conversation prevents minor problems from becoming larger ones, and appreciative praise lets others know exactly what they are doing correctly to make the small business a better place.


Take your management skills to the next level. Check out How to Build Trust with Your Employees.

The Difference Between Leading and Managing

January 13th, 2017 Comments off
Businessman looking at a line between a to b painted on a wall

Though the terms “leadership” and “management” are often used interchangeably, not all managers are leaders and not all leaders are managers. Knowing the difference between leading and managing can give your small business the vision and structure it needs to succeed. Here’s how to figure out if you’re a leader, a manager or both.


Propelling a small business to new heights is often a leader’s primary concern. Leaders develop an image of what the company could become and devote much of their time to innovation, expansion and improvement. They embrace change and see risk as necessary for progress.

Because of this great enthusiasm for turning possibilities into realities, leaders rally others into action. They bring out the best in staff members by making each individual feel critical to the central mission of the small business. Some may liken a leader to a coach who inspires employees to expand their talents and help the team reach extraordinary levels of accomplishment.


Creating a vision is one thing, but putting it into action is quite another. Managers “keep it real” and excel at execution. They think about what needs to be done to accomplish goals and may be exceptionally good at sticking to budgets, organizing resources, delegating responsibilities, and staying on track.

Compared to leaders, managers oftentimes focus more on day-to-day operations than on a small business’s long-term strategy. They are aware of the big picture, but they also realize the importance of details, nuts and bolts, and even mundane tasks. Team members depend on managers to help them figure out who, what, where, when, and how so that work gets completed.

The need for both

Undoubtedly, leading and managing can overlap. In fact, small business owners often must do both out of necessity. Resources simply may not exist to hire someone else to carry out plans and supervise daily operations. However, if overseeing execution is not one of your strong points, finding a qualified manager should be high on the to-do list. Not only might this help your small business run more efficiently, it frees up your time to focus on entrepreneurship, networking, and other activities that can help the company grow.

For those great at ensuring the business runs like a well-oiled machine but reluctant to shake up the status quo, hiring charismatic forward-thinkers may be a solution. Also, remember that while leading may seem to come naturally to some people, it is a skill that anyone who wants to can improve. Watch pertinent TED talks. Read books on the subject. Find a mentor to model and offer advice. You soon may find your confidence and leadership abilities soaring.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business advice and resources page.


Like a Boss: Study Reveals Common Characteristics of Senior Management

March 12th, 2015 Comments off
I'm the boss

If your CEO wants to apply to be the next “Undercover Boss,” he or she may not need to wear a disguise in order to fool your employees. 

According to a new CareerBuilder study, 26 percent of workers surveyed say they don’t even know what their CEO looks like, while 55 percent have never had a conversation with the head honcho.

The less your employees know about your CEO or other senior leadership, the more unapproachable or intimidating they may seem to be. Yet as the survey results show, the personalities and preferences of senior executives may not be as unlike the average worker as one may think.

Dressing to impress?

Many offices have been transitioning to a more lax dress code over the past several years, and executives are following (without a) suit. According to the survey, only 1 in 5 executives (20 percent) consider a business suit typical office attire. Most (57 percent) outfit themselves in business casual clothing, while 18 percent usually wear jeans or shorts to work.

When it comes to clothing color, black is the most popular choice, with 32 percent of top leadership donning the dark hue. Navy blue is the second most popular color (31 percent) followed by grey (10 percent).

Commonplace commutes

When it comes to commuting, most top dogs prefer cars – but not the chauffeured kind. Seventy-nine percent take themselves to work in an automobile, with 1 in 4 driving an SUV, 1 in 5 opting for a mid-sized sedan and 1 in 10 cruising around in a luxury sedan.

Eighteen percent use more environmentally friendly modes of transport, with 9 percent taking public transportation, 4 percent driving hybrids, 4 percent walking and 1 percent riding their bikes.

Sober hour

While executives may relax a little bit more than usual during office happy hours, you don’t have to worry about them getting a little too loose. More than half of senior management (62 percent) abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages at company happy hours. Instead, they choose soda (23 percent), water (19 percent), coffee (13 percent) or nothing at all (7 percent). Thirteen percent of executives kick back with a beer, and the same number (13 percent) sip wine, while 8 percent opt for mixed drinks.

Working up a storm, and a sweat

When asked how many hours they work in a typical week, 40 was the minimum for most head honchos. Fifty-eight percent say they work 40 to 49 hours a week, and 32 percent work 50 hours or more. Then there are those lucky few (9 percent) who work less than 40 hours a week.

Due to their packed schedule, nearly 1 in 5 (18 percent) say they “rarely” or “never” work out. Yet the vast majority of leaders (82 percent) are able to squeeze in at least one work out a week, with 39 percent getting their sweat on four or more days a week.

Right brained or left brained?

When it comes to a preferred hand, right-handers outnumber left-handers by nearly 7 to 1 (80 percent versus 13 percent). Eight percent of leaders claim to be ambidextrous.

The right side is also favored when it comes to hair parts, with 29 percent of senior leaders choosing this side. Nineteen percent go down the middle and 15 percent part on the left. One in four don’t part their hair at all, while 11 percent sport a shaved or bald head.

Opening the door to more executive engagement

While your employees may never get to know your CEO or senior leaders well enough to get a ride in their car or workout together, there are easy ways to provide more access to them so that employees feel a connection on some level. Try conducting monthly or quarterly Q&A sessions with your CEO and staff, or encourage your executives to work out of other offices on occasion. Anything you can do to provide more contact with senior executives can go a long way in the eyes of your employees.

For more CEO insights, check out the following articles:

5 Lessons From Bad HR and Management Behaviors

February 5th, 2015 Comments off
5 Lessons From Bad HR and Management Behaviors

I have a friend who works in HR. Let’s call him Joe. Joe was so excited to join a new company last year, but today he’s trying to quit. How did things go so terribly wrong in a matter of months?

Here are some reasons that could serve as a warning for others. Take a step back and ask yourself: Could any of these bad HR and management behaviors be eating away at employees in my organization?

1. Broken promises/lack of transparency.

Joe had a certain set of expectations of what his job role would look like when he agreed to join the company last year. Since then, as it turned out, most of the responsibilities given to him were outside the scope of what was initially discussed when he interviewed.

THE LESSON: Make sure you are transparent and honest from the very beginning, and specify up front what your expectations for the role are so that candidates don’t feel duped when they begin working.

2. Bad management.

We’ve all heard that one of the primary reasons employees quit their jobs is because of bad managers. Joe points to his incompetent boss as one of the main reasons for wanting to resign. He says his manager is not only clueless about what team members are doing day to day, but she also doesn’t touch base with them regularly. Questions from the team are usually met with a condescending response, which dissuades anyone from approaching her.

THE LESSON: Make sure that managers are trained to bring out the very best in their people. It isn’t about appearing intelligent — it’s about being approachable and supportive so team members know someone’s got their back.

You might like to read: 4 bad leadership behaviors every leader should blast in 2015.

3. Micro-management/lack of trust.

Unfortunately, Joe wasn’t given the liberty to make even relatively small decisions without running it up the chain first. This not only caused tremendous inefficiencies, but also demonstrated to him that if he couldn’t be trusted with minor decisions, his career couldn’t conceivably progress at the company.

THE LESSON: When you hire candidates, there’s some amount of inherent trust that they know what they’re doing, right? Give them opportunities to prove themselves — and watch them step up to the plate, without looking over their shoulders every two minutes.

4. Toxic culture.

Employees on Joe’s team started quitting one after the other — some without even having a backup job lined up — because they said they couldn’t handle the pressure of a poisonous culture anymore without any hope that something might change. That sent a loud message to the rest of the team about how toxic the culture really was.

THE LESSON: One of the best things you can do to gauge whether you have a healthy corporate culture is to ask your employees about it. Do pulse checks and engagement surveys regularly. Also consider doing exit interviews when employees leave — sometimes these can produce more candid answers. Then actually *do* something with the results — communicate it to the executive team and put programs or policies in place aimed at rectifying the situation.

5. Zero flexibility.

The head of HR reiterated to Joe’s team that a strict 8-5 or 9-6 workday policy was in place for anyone who chose to take a lunch break. There was also mention of cutting back on work-from-home days, and calling people out for experiencing public transportation delays in the morning. The person actually said something along the lines of how it was up to HR to set the standard for the rest of the company. (Wonder what the rest of the company thinks when HR is a revolving door for employees.)

THE LESSON: If employees are doing exceptional work and completing all of their assignments, do you really care if they leave early to make their kids’ baseball games or hit the gym in the middle of the day? Stringent anti-work/life policies won’t keep employees in line — they’ll simply push them away.

Which of these bad HR and management behaviors stood out to you as needing to be eliminated ASAP? Tell us in the comments below or tweet at us @CBforEmployers.