arm wrestling

Competition vs. Cooperation

How small business owners can create engaged employees and 
high-performing teams.

It’s been said that a business owner’s job is a “people job in which it is critical to understand others by building relationships with stakeholders, customers, employees, suppliers and even, in some ways, competitors. However, understanding others also involves understanding oneself; your management style, your communications style, your conflict management style and how you can lead and motivate employees for the success of the business.

A common problem experienced by many small business owners is high turnover. Yet, it has been shown, in most cases, that employees do not “quit” their jobs; they “quit” their bosses. For a small business owner, this boils down to the equivalent of training their competitor’s staff; employees “leave” and take all of their skills, knowledge and experience with them to another company. The business person who invested his or her time, energy and knowledge training this employee “loses” that investment and then has to “hire” someone else and start over again “training” the new person. This is a loss of time and money.

It’s important to understand that all businesses operate at personal, interpersonal, managerial and organizational levels – and in that order. You must start by building a foundation at the personal level and then building relationships at the interpersonal level. If this is not achieved, the managerial and organizational levels will suffer.

Business owners must first understand themselves. How are they treating their people? Are they acting as tyrants or leaders? Are they leaning on their “economic power” over their employees to get the work done? Do they “drive” their employees or coach them, inspire fear or enthusiasm, give commands or make requests?

Leaders learn to inspire. They roll up their sleeves and get into the trenches with their people. When the pressure is “on,” they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty or ask anyone to do anything that they would not do themselves. Additionally, they value and respect their people, and are also committed to their success.

Skilled business owners are communicators. They listen well, express themselves assertively and manage interpersonal and operational conflicts effectively. They understand the importance of focusing their energies on the areas in which they have control, which involves setting realistic goals and priorities, then managing their activities around them.

They then communicate and demonstrate those goals to their staff members to insure they clearly understand the level of performance that is expected. Once this is complete, they observe the employee’s performance and “manage the balance of consequences.”

Yes, a business owners’ job is a people job.

About the Author
Mary Anne Kochut of Champions for Success is a seasoned corporate trainer and business coach. She just released her first book, Power vs. Perception; Ten Characteristics of Self-Empowerment for Women. Visit:
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