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The Dominant Managerial Problems Faced By Small Business Management

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Spread the burden

It can't all be down to one person. The dominant managerial problems facing small business management are often rooted in the psychology, technical caliber and business aspirations of the owner/manager and development of the organizational structure and management style.

Work as a team
What is a team? Is a team simply a fancy word for a group of people? What is the difference between a team and a task force? What is the difference between a team and a commit-tee? Is a team simply a group of people with different skills aiming for the same goal?



Despite the extensive literature about teams and team working the basic dynamics of team working often remain clouded and uncertain. Teams only occur when a number of people have a common goal and recognize that their personal success is dependent on the success of others. They are all interdependent. In practice, this means that in most teams people will contribute individual skills, many of which will be different. It also means that the full tensions and counter-balance of human behavior will need to be demonstrated in the team.

It is not enough to have a rag-bag collection of individual skills. The various behaviors of the team members need to mesh together in order to achieve objectives. For people to work successfully in teams, you need people to behave in certain ways. You need some people to concentrate on the task at hand [doers). You need some people to provide specialist knowledge (knowers) and some to solve problems as they arise (solvers). You need some people to make sure that it is going as well as it can and that the whole team is contributing fully {checkers). And you need some people to make sure that the team is operating as a cohesive social unit (carers).

For people to work well together you need both a range of specific skills or technical skills and a range of different human behaviors. When you look hard at people and how they behave when they are working in teams, you find that in addition to the actual content of the work they are doing, they take on certain behaviors. Each person has a favorite way of behaving when they work with others.

Modern management thinking suggests that you need a balance of behaviors for any change management activity. But you may wish to slightly unbalance the team in favor of the type of change you are trying to undertake.

It is also worth noting that for all the research which has been carried out into effective team working, teams remain a law unto themselves. Managers who sit down and play at human engineering by trying to select exactly the right sort of combination usually end up in a state of confusion. Often the teams that have worked in re-engineering programs have come about spontaneously or include an unusual combination of specialists. The key to success does not appear to lie in the selection of team members - you only have to look briefly at team sports to find examples of talented individuals working poorly as a team. Instead, success is often characterized by the genuine granting of power and responsibility to teams so they can solve their own problems.

Use experts

The small business owner/manager is often a strong believer in the marriage of ownership and control. This can lead to a failure to seek out or use technical specialists when they are required. Duties are not given priorities and strategic decisions may be overlooked in order to complete routine jobs. The lack of management specialization creates inefficiencies and disadvantages in the innovation process (i.e. marketing tactics, design/development of new products/services and technological progress). In family businesses the management function tends to improve with the introduction of a new generation of entrepreneurs. Consider using experts such as:
  • accountants

  • auditors

  • lawyers

  • financial advisers

  • management consultants

  • specialist consultants

  • management trainers

Using consultants

Much maligned, consultants can be an important source of expertise with objective views on your performance. Discovering the right consultants for you is difficult. There are an increasingly large number to choose from. You might come into contact with consultants through word-of-mouth (e.g. other people in the same professional network who have used consultants to do similar projects to the one contemplated); advertisements placed by consultants in newspapers, trade journals, etc.; direct marketing approaches by consultants; consultancy registers (a variety of organizations maintain registers of approved consultants and are happy to give information and advice concerning their selection). Having made contact you should look for:

  • The quality of response. Do they seem to understand your business and its particular problem? Do they ask questions and try and get under the skin of the business?

  • Track record. Have they done similar work in the sector and when was the work performed?

  • The experience of others can you contact other businesses who have used the consultants?

  • Is it clear what they plan to do? You need to know what the end-result will be - a report, recommendations or just an appraisal of the company?

  • Who will you be working with? Consultants may sub contract work or use other colleagues who you haven't met. Ensure that you know who will be handling the work.

  • Costs. Find out exactly what you will be paying for and when.

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