How to Manage a Small Business and Staff

Updated on May 21, 2020
aliveandfree profile image

Managing Pizza stores for 20 years has had its challenges, and every challenge has brought opportunity for growth, and inspiration!

Remember They Are Human, Not Robots!

Effective staff management comes from the heart. To produce real results, you need to remember that they are humans you are managing, not robots. Humans can not be controlled, however, they can be inspired, and learn to work as a team, or one body, as I like to say. The key is in remembering that everyone is inspired through their strengths, and when you combine those strengths effectively, they cover each other's weaknesses.

Identify Your Needs as a Business, and Build Your Team's Body From There

The first step in effectively managing a team body is identifying business needs; after that you can fill those needs with the right people. I will use my current business as an example. I operate a take-out fast food chain. In order to be successful, we focus on Product, Service, and Image (PSI). When broken down, we need people who have the following abilities:

  • Consistency
  • Speed
  • Outstanding Customer Service
  • Cleanliness
  • Reliability
  • Numeration
  • Ability to Think Quickly
  • Passion
  • Will to Compete, Give 100%

Now That You Have Identified Your Needs, Build Your Body

A human body consists of many different parts operating at the same time. Most parts cannot effectively do their part without other parts working effectively at the same time. If your arm is broken, it's much harder to use your hand. If you cannot stand on your foot, what use is your leg? The key is remembering that people working together, operating in their strengths, is much like the human body. Every individual you have working with you will have strengths and weaknesses. When you allow them to excel in their strengths, there is less need to worry about their individual weaknesses, as long as you have effectively placed them where they need to be, to functionally operate the body. Your team's strengths will cover each other's weaknesses, and when allowed to excel in their areas of strength with a confidence of not being judged or condemned, they will find themselves in a safe environment to start exploring their weaknesses and growing in those areas over time as well, also having excellent examples around them. It's like building muscle overtime on your body.

The Most Valuable Lesson You Can Teach Your Team

Susan opens shop, and is outraged to find the closing paperwork is full of errors! Susan calls me, "Sarah, I can't handle this, Karen closed shop last night, all of her figures are wrong, her paperwork is a mess, I can't handle this anymore, she's such an idiot".

Susan is brilliant when it comes to math, and accounting, she excels at ensuring our weekly paperwork is always done correctly and neatly. I continually praise her for the efforts she makes to ensure our company thrives by having accuracy in our paperwork and keeping our numbers straight. It's an important part of our business.

The previous evening, Karen called me. "Sarah, I just wanted to let you know, it was a little slow tonight, but I'm so excited for tomorrow! I can't wait for Karen to open, I spent hours cleaning, the store looks brand new! I completed all the food prep for tomorrow too. I know Susan has her hands full, taking care of our books, I thought it would be a nice surprise, and I love keeping the store image above, and beyond standard!"

Karen excels at cleanliness and maintaining store image. It's an important part of our business. Her math skills are very weak.

Do you see what I see?

It is all in perspective, and teaching your team to have an open mind to different perspectives and strengths. I could agree with Susan and say yes, Karen is an idiot, (which she's not) or I could start to teach Susan the most valuable lesson I can teach a team body member.

(Me) Susan, thanks for your call. I really appreciate what a great job you do at organizing our weekly paper work, and accounting. I know it can be frustrating sometimes when people make mistakes; that you view as simple errors. This is really your area of expertise. Karen actually called me last night, as she was struggling with the numbers. She was so excited for you to open today, and see all the effort she put in cleaning the store meticulously, and did some extra prep work, so that you would have more time to look at the numbers. She really appreciates your strengths and would like to start learning from you. Its her greatest weakness.

It Takes Time To Create a New Culture of New Attitudes

It happens all the time, employees complaining about other employees, bringing down the moral of the entire workplace. Creating an environment that can be debilitating, it feels like a dark cloud. As a manager, here are my top six techniques to help create an environment that is productive, uplifting, and pulls your team together as one body.

  1. Identify your individual team members strengths, and praise them regularly & publicly.
  2. When an employee is struggling in an area, take them to the person with that strength, and have them work together. Express how wonderful it is that we all have different strengths, and weaknesses and that we can help each other grow. Try to ensure different team members are regularly helping each other, the feeling of importance, and accomplishment works wonders.
  3. If a person is consistently talking poorly about others, and their abilities, go for a coffee and talk with this employee. Talk about different strengths and weaknesses, and that our strengths as a team cover each other's weaknesses. There is no “I” in a team. Encourage the employee to replace negatives with positives. If this employee does not make changes in their attitude, it does not belong in the body. A consistent bad attitude is like cancer, if it's not caught in time it needs to be cut out before it takes over the body.
  4. PSP - Praise - Correct - Praise. This is the only way to correct, and inspire.
  5. Set Goals, and plan celebrations/rewards for when they are achieved! Individual, and team goals! It's important to have both. Rewards/Celebrations can be anything from a $5 gift card, a pizza party, paid day off, or ice cream. Share in each other's victories, and celebrate team victory!
  6. Lead by example! It is the most important directive I can give you! Be slow to anger, and eager to accept every opportunity as a teaching example, or as a way to inspire people. No one is perfect, and everyone is human.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives.”

Make Your Visions, Goals, & Expectations Clear

Last, but not least, make sure your team body understands and knows your visions, goals, and expectations. It is impossible to direct a body in a direction without knowing where they're going. Post your goals and share your visions. Find people who share the same visions and dreams of doing better. Make your expectations clear and uphold the expectations yourself, so that you may hold others to the same bar.

Someone recently asked me about one of my new employees and commented that they seemed to be doing good. My reply was the following: "He is doing good, our standard is exceptional, we will know soon if he is too."

Our vision as a company is to have exceptional people on a mission to be the #1 company in our community, in our town, and in the world. In order for this to happen, I have to spend time with people, work with them and come to find whether their expectations of themselves are the same. Sometimes, they just need the opportunity to believe in themselves and find a safe place to grow their talents. This is where I burden you, as a manager, it's your job to remember, they are humans, not robots. Lead with your heart. Invest in your people. Arrange peoples strengths to cover each other's weaknesses. Pair people with other people to grow. Be kind, patient, and encouraging. Celebrate victories, and encourage growth. You will find that you have an amazing, dedicated and goal driven team that will function together and achieve goals you may have never thought possible!!


Thank you, for reading my article! I have enjoyed managing the pizza franchise industry for the last 20 years, and growing them into successful and inspirational places to work! For more great articles like this, follow me! Have a great day and much success to you all.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Sarah Cook


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    • aliveandfree profile imageAUTHOR

      Sarah Cook 

      23 months ago from Wasaga Beach

      Thank you!!

    • Victoria C Cook profile image

      Victoria Cook 

      23 months ago from Ontario

      Wonderful article, very inspiring! I can't wait to read more :)


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