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Six Tactics for Managing a Small Team Successfully


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Due to economic changes that may be beyond your control, you may have had to make the difficult decision to reduce your staff to keep your business financially healthy. In turn, you may feel hesitation towards rehiring with uncertainty in your industry or a lack of qualified applicants.

You want to feel confident that when you do expand your team, it’s going to be sustainable long term. In the meantime, here are six tips on how to get the most from the employees you have to reach your business goals. 

1. Think like a start-up 

Chances are you’re already familiar with this mindset. Start-ups are built on the momentum generated by doing a lot with a little, and that’s exactly what you may need right now. And it may require a shift in your fundamental approach. The first thing you’ll want is a strategic plan focused on your priorities. Put everything else aside. If you structure your staff so everything they do builds towards clear business objectives and a stable foundation, you’ll begin getting the most out of your limited resources. 

2. Lead your employees by trusting them 

When you’re working with a skeleton crew, micromanaging slows down the process. They need the freedom to switch between roles and tasks on the fly. Rather than focusing on the minute details, set clear expectations for what needs to get done and by when – give them the opportunity to figure out “the how”. Be open about your business objectives and show that you trust them with this responsibility.  

This will foster a positive work environment while still letting you judge success based on their overall performance. You’ll also give yourself more time to focus on the big picture to make sure you’re leading your employees in the best strategic direction. 

3. Support each other to meet business objectives 

A great way to keep employees motivated during a demanding period is by fostering a team environment. If you’ve already given them the freedom to work in multiple roles, then this is the natural next step. When the emphasis is on meeting your larger goals as a business rather than on individual output, employees are more likely to cooperate on tasks.  

Another way to develop a team is to lead by example. Be the kind of employee you want to have working for you. Always try your best and show your staff that you believe in what they’re accomplishing as a business. When you’re not busy with your own work, pitch in as a fellow employee instead of as a manager. This shows them what they do is valuable and you’re willing to put in extra effort as their boss to make sure their job is secure. 

Remember, you’re all a part of the same company, so share in your successes. Make sure they know when you’ve achieved a major goal and ask for their input on how to improve. By involving them in the business, they feel more in control of their own job and more invested in its success. Together, you can share the task of making the most of your limited numbers. 

4. Play to your staff’s strengths 

Getting to know your team allows you to make better business decisions. When you understand each person’s strengths and weaknesses, you can assign them to areas where they’ll do their best work. In a team tackling multiple jobs and changing roles, they can better support each other — leading when they have expertise and learning from others when they need help. 

You can also use this time for professional development. Encourage your team and turn weaknesses into strengths through education, training and constructive feedback. Show them they’re worth investing in. When employees rise to a challenge or demonstrate continuous improvement, reward them with more opportunities you feel confident they can handle. But be careful not to overload them. Encourage honesty about when they hit their ceiling to avoid unnecessary failures. 

5. Appreciate their efforts 

While you try to get the most from your small staff out of necessity, don’t forget that they’re still people. If you’ve been open and honest with them, they’ll understand your situation. Now, take the time to talk to them so you understand theirs.

Let your people know how much you appreciate the extra effort they’re putting in. Make sure they’re being fairly compensated for their work, give them feedback they can use to improve and remember to say thank you ⎯ you can never go wrong with that. 

6. Get expert advice to reach your business goals 

We can connect you with the resources and advice you need to keep your business financially healthy ⎯ today and tomorrow. Contact your Business Advisor directly or call 1-888-597-8083 to speak to one of our financial experts. If you want to learn more about how our business banking solutions can help your business thrive, contact us