Running a business entails many different challenges. Hiring the right people, keeping the sales pipeline full, and exceeding expectations are some of them.

For many business owners, the biggest challenge is managing employees. Like so many things, it would be easier if managing was a science. However, it is not. Managing is an art.

How to become better at working with those you manage?

Be Honest
For many of us the skills that we learned were about working with things: Taking raw materials and creating something. You get good at that and then you find you’re working with people more than you are with materials.

The ability to work with people entails learning new skills. One of them is being realistic about what you can expect from both yourself and those that you work with. My experience is that an owner thinks they can do more than anybody else they work with. This is inaccurate. The owner typically makes the same, if not more, mistakes as those they work with. They just don’t remember the mistakes.

One of the skills needed to be a better manager is accepting that no one is perfect. Paying attention to what goes right helps you get more from those you are managing than simply focusing on what goes wrong.

Be Clear
The ability to delegate successfully is key to being able to manage others. What typically happens with someone new to managing is that the process of delegation is handled poorly. The manager decides it’s easier to just do the task.

Delegation is a process that requires both parties to be participating, not just the manager. A simple practice that makes it easier to be successful when delegating is to ask the employee, “What are we agreeing to?”

As a manager, listening to how an employee responds will give you a better idea of what you have communicated than you saying it over and over again. The fact of the matter is people only listen to what they say, not what you tell them.

Follow Up
Quality control in production means inspecting what was built to ensure that it meets the expectations of what was sold. When working with people, a similar inspection needs to occur on a regular basis. A weekly meeting with each person you manage will allow the two of you to make sure you are on the same page. This meeting allows both parties to provide positive and productive feedback to one another with the goal of being more successful working together top of mind.

As a manager it’s important to set the tone that you are constantly working on becoming a better manager. By making this known to those you manage, you become inspirational. You’re not just a manager, you are someone who helps those you work with become more effective in whatever they do.

What it all comes down to is selling, not telling. A piece of wood doesn’t need to be convinced of anything. An employee needs to be “sold” by the manager that what is being agreed to benefits both of them. Instead of creating a masterpiece from wood, you are creating one with people. That is the art of managing.