For many small business owners, the role of manager can sometimes be a confusing and challenging one. Balancing the roles of team player and boss can be difficult as we try to remain professional and driven while at the same time being accessible and accommodating.
While big businesses may have entire departments of 'bosses', in small business a manager often works closely with their team. The division that can naturally develop due to job title and hierarchies can therefore sometimes be more of a detriment than a benefit. A good way of combating this is to see yourself as a team player and work together with your employees. As is often the case, a little forward planning can go a long way.
Lead with humility
The first step in being a team player is understanding that every role is important in the running of the business. You may be the manager, but without a team to manage your role is irrelevant. When you are able to see yourself as simply a piece of a larger puzzle, you can lead from a place of good intentions and your staff will appreciate and respect you for it.
Work towards a greater good
It is not uncommon for a manager to see their role as a way of advancing their personal goals. While there is nothing wrong with ambition, your drive should not come at the expense of the business. See yourself and your role as a way of advancing the business (and this includes every team member within it). This will not only keep your ego in check, it will also show your employees that you value their development as well as your own.
Know every role
Another important responsibility for a team player manager is to have a good understanding of all the roles they oversee. So often we see managers who feel they are above certain roles. However, in business - and especially in small business - this attitude can not only create a sense of resentment amongst your employees, it can also leave you struggling in times when you may be down a team member.
Acknowledge the boundaries
While being part of the team is a great way to manage a small business, as the manager you do still need to acknowledge that with your position comes certain boundaries you must adhere to. For example, you may have a group of employees who, given their similar roles, will interact in a more relaxed and casual way. While you can continue to take the approach of team member, you also need to remember that you are still the manager, and this requires a certain level of restraint. As a rule of thumb, be a team member in matters of work, but remain professional at all times.
Check your expectations
Another factor that needs ongoing monitoring is your expectation of yourself and your team. While you may be determined to act and be seen as a member of the team, your employees will likely always hold back a certain amount. Ultimately, you are still their boss, so avoid expectations that they will always be completely open and forthcoming about issues or concerns they may have. Instead, make communication as easy as possible to encourage discussion without excessive pressure.
With a little forward thinking you can modify the way you conduct yourself within your business. Remember that team players are also willing to "take one for the team", so ensure you are front and centre when a problem presents itself. Your team will thank you for it.
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This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Nick Petrovic is a registered psychologist and head of clinic at the Mind Profile Psychology Clinic and has more than 10 years' experience in the allied health and business. Nick has contributed to regular columns in more than a dozen business magazines and newspapers, advising on issues such as mental health, work related stress, strategic planning, business analysis and human resources.