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The 5 best practices for SME/TPE manager

23 May 2016

The size of the SOHO / SME involves special modes of operation. Two features stand out: proximity whereby everyone knows each other and spends time together, and affectivity which implies that everyone is strongly attached to the heart of the business.

 The leader, who is often the creator of this company, is himself very present in all offices / premises, in all functions and at all times of the day. But, noting his own limitations, he usually surrounds himself with a small team of collaborators including one or two managers who act as his relay (in his absence - or not) and who hold key position. Managers in these organizations, here are 5 good practices for effective and qualitative management.

Practice 1: Prioritize the heart of business

The dominant operating mode in the SOHO / SME is often an oral culture: skills and learning are transmitted more through confrontation to the field and by word-of-mouth rather than through writing. The leader embodies a reactive, concrete and operational approach rather than an abstract, formal and conceptual one.

The SOHO / SME manager is directly and instantly exposed to contingencies that occur irregularly and unpredictably. These new situations are experienced in an immediate and strong and immediate manner: the leader implements freshly conceived reactions in which the share of instinct and intuition is largely predominant.

It is this culture that the leader transmits to his managers and which he wishes them to learn, a culture of action and presence in the field.

Whether be it a start-up in a tower of defense, a mountain melting company, a franchised southern supermarket, or a Norman biscuit producer, these companies of 2 to 20, 30 or even 50 employees are characterized by very high reactivity, strong operational culture, a steadfast solidarity and 7/7availability.

Their managers tend to:

  • Prioritize action instead of reflection,
  • Accept that field staff act with the only technique related to their function,
  • Count on individual resourcefulness and solidarity to solve problems,
  • Be present everywhere and an act out of strong individual commitment.

Of course, these lightweight structures bring them benefits that help them to:

  • Respond with great flexibility and operational efficiency
  •  Obtain fast decisions and validations through short circuits
  • Have a broad vision of the company's problems.
  • Rely on implicit involvement of employees

Practice 2: Define a clear framework:

In this environment it is essential for managers to clearly expect rather than spread their efforts. Define a clear framework and rules of the game will permit to secure initiatives and responsiveness.

This framework, accompanied by rules and specific actions, aims to give visibility and clearly define priorities. This becomes a real effective and powerful steering and management tool: it is reassuring, mobilizing and structuring. It helps to know what are the criteria for success, how to behave, to project in time and how to translate intentions into operational decisions.

For example: Indicating how to reconcile security requirements and customer satisfaction, recalling procedures while being reactive to events, remember this or that rule, particularly on possible initiatives, etc.

Practice 3: To develop communication skills:

while this advice seems "obvious" to any manager, the context of SOHO / SME is demanding for them that they spend all their energy on the high stake activities while likely to forget their professional colleagues (and sometimes personal entourage). Thus, they may be confused on the day when a crew member resigns, when according to them, there was no way to predict this event. Maintaining motivation, listening, growing its employees is also a key function that meet the many and immediatedemands boss and clients.

The relational time is a real managerial time, it helps to train his ability to understand the expectations of his employees, discern disincentive signals, questions, concerns, allowing potential to flourish.

For example: Take the time of an informal lunch (one to one), make a quarterly evaluation with everyone, greet each person each day and send a personalized statement from time to time, etc.

Practice 4: Take time to anticipate

This means to acquire a minimum of discipline within one’s organization and workload. Schedule thinking time in order to become more strategic, to become more of a tactician and become more of a coordinator. Enjoy a few moments to stand back in order to consider delegating more advantages.

Anticipating is also taking time to reflect on his own role of a manager which is not that of a great technician, think about his own personal and professional development, considering the nature of its added value.

A manager in SOHO / SME must take the time for his own organization and reflection. Peer networks can be very powerful for this: sharing difficulties stand back, anticipate possible setbacks. For example: think about how to spend less time on particular activities that could be delegated, write a note on the strategic intentions of the company for the next 6 months and find the words that will mobilize teams, contact a customer to know his intentions to better smoothen the load, etc.

Practice 5: Develop leadership

Even though the vision of the future is blurred, the manager "hangs his plow to a star." He is aware of what is important to him and his team, the values they defend, and embody in their daily actions. Without losing its responsiveness and enthusiasm, he also knows negotiate and refuse by setting limits.

He explains his choices and gives meaning. He also knows how to listen, to surround himself with different opinions and put all the conditions to make his team succeed by clarifying the meaning of these successes.

Without this direction or vision, the employee cannot have the feeling of participating in a motivating "task” and cannot be accomplished. Although the context of TPE favors a rapid flow of information, the sum of all these micro-information is not enough. Everyone needs to understand why they work, what is asked of them and what is forbidden, what its degree of autonomy, this is how he will be responsive, creative and concerned because, feeling free from within this framework explicit, he will assume all further decisions.

For example: explain during the next service meeting why we decided not to respond to such tender or why we decided to develop this new benefit, congratulate such collaborator for his initiative and making it known, etc.
Working in a SOHO / SME is often working in an exciting environment.
Make decisions, see the effects immediately, and lead a team, to be at the heart of business issues these are great challenges!

It is great freedom and a great responsibility. This is not just nothing to enjoy this freedom and responsibility. But the downside is to accept corresponding duties: duty of example, duty of behavior, making detachment and rigor, rather than instinct. TPEManager is a wonderful challenge!

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