In the SCORE Small Business Success Podcast: HR for Small Biz, Jonathan Pyle, Vice President of Service Delivery at ThinkHR, teaches small business owners how to handle different HR issues. ThinkHR offers a human resources hotline service via web and phone to tens of thousands of small businesses. They answer questions about a variety of topics including federal and state compliance and hiring practices.
How do you become a good manager and leader? How do you inspire and encourage employees?
“Understanding how to work and build great teams is a valuable asset to every business. You have to start and build a foundation early, from concept to reality. You need to learn how to lead. First you have to divide the terms manager and leader. Each uses different skill sets.”
Pyle explains that to be a good leader, create an environment where you:
- Listen. Never fail to listen even with all the distractions that come with being a small business owner.
- Stay predictable. Strong leaders strive to be predictable, to be the same person every day, stressed or not.
- Stay organized. Plan how you want your employees to work. What do you need from them? What do you expect?
- Model behavior of leaders you admire. What traits and styles do you admire in great leaders and business owners?
- Be present. Make time for people, not just your customers but also employees. Implement an open door policy to allow employees to speak, and they will often share great ideas.
Small business owners wear many hats. Some think that only they can do certain tasks. How do you advise owners to delegate?
“Delegating is the logical, best method toward managing business. The key is to start with the end in mind. Be organized and offer assistance. Write out your expectations. Talk about outcomes. Have candid and respectful conversations. Most people want to do a good job.”
Jonathan says that mistakes will happen, but if someone isn’t performing well and dropping tasks, you must address concerns before they become bigger problems. Develop a constant dialogue and constructive conversations. Many owners procrastinate these talks for months because they don’t know how to confront the problem. But you don’t want to surprise employees by firing them when they didn’t even know there was a problem.
What are the biggest HR concerns today?
Jonathan says compliance and hiring are important issues. Since each state has different rules, he says to connect with SCORE mentors with questions. For hiring, start with a structure. Use job applications, so candidates must list qualifications, work history, references. Explain all details like how often they will get paid, what are the rules for leave, etc.
On a national level, the Affordable Care Act might be relevant to larger companies. The difficult economy still impacts businesses. They’ve had to make cuts and often employee training programs are hit. This lowers the opportunity to develop stronger employees and potential managers.
How has technology and social media changed the role of HR?
Pyle says each business has to decide on if or how to regulate personal computer use. Is it ok for employees to check Facebook or pay bills online at work? No solid rules exist. Some studies show that allowing short breaks every hour makes employees more productive. Happy employees are productive employees. But you have to keep tabs on what’s crossing the line. When internet surfing affects productivity, you can set up rules or even block internet access if you want.
As much as technology changes, people still matter. We interact with people. That’s why it’s important to understand the human part of HR.