Top management skills all small business owners should have

Editorial Team

5 min read
Manager looking at tablet with employee

It takes passion, creativity, and determination to be a small business owner. These entrepreneurs often possess unique skill sets that allow them to thrive under pressure and problem solve with limited resources. However, the skills that help small business owners succeed don’t always translate into management skills.

While there’s some overlap between entrepreneurial and managerial skills, business management skills often require specialized training or certain experience. It’s worth the investment to develop these skills, too. “Teams with highly talented managers achieve 48% higher profitability, 22% greater productivity and 30% better employee engagement scores [than] do teams with less talented managers,” reported Gallup

Defining the management skills that set some managers apart from others isn’t always straightforward. Great managers draw from a combination of both hard and soft skills to inspire employees, make decisions, and manage customer relationships. And, different industries require different leadership and management skills. Someone who thrives in a fast-paced restaurant environment may struggle in an office, for instance. 

Research has identified a few key management skills that can be useful to small business owners across industries. As you seek to further your professional development, consider focusing on these 6 top management skills. 

What are the management qualities of a good manager? 

Small business owners have a lot of management-related responsibilities to juggle. A good manager must simultaneously foster a motivating, positive work environment; ensure productivity and monitor KPIs, serve customers, and delegate tasks. As a result, the list of good management skills can be divided into three general categories: 

  • Business management skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Technical skills

Fortunately, most small business owners have a strong set of technical skills in their chosen field. Many of these skills can also be taught—and regular upskilling can help small business owners stay current with industry trends and tools. 

Business management skills and leadership skills are less easily acquired. Hard skills like business processes management can be learned over time and experience, as can delegation, resource management, and negotiation. Soft skills may come with time—and intention. As you seek to develop your credentials as a manager, focus on fostering these key management skills. 

Top soft skills of effective managers

Soft skills are personal attributes that influence how you interact and work with others—such as communication, time management, and adaptability. Research shows that these soft skills are invaluable for small business managers. 

1. Clarity

New managers might hesitate to clearly define goals, deadlines, and success metrics for their team, fearing it comes across as micromanaging. However, clear, transparent communication regarding expectations is crucial. By openly outlining performance standards, deliverables, and deadlines, effective managers demonstrate their commitment to setting the team up for success.

“When managers provide honest, authentic communication, employees feel like true partners in the business—and more connected as a result. They’re also more likely to align with the company, even when they don’t totally agree with decisions,” wrote Top Workplaces

2. Empathy

Empathy is at the top of the management skills list for improving company performance. The ability to empathize with customers, employees, and partners is an invaluable trait. Research has shown that managers with high emotional intelligence (EQ) led their companies to a 34% higher profit growth than other companies. Millennial and Gen Z employees in particular value empathy in their managers. 

3. Trustworthiness

More than 60% of those polled in an SHRM survey said that trust between senior management and employees significantly contributed to job satisfaction. The adage that trust should be earned, not given, doesn’t necessarily apply here. Good managers place their trust in someone right away. When you hire someone, trust that they can do the job for which they’ve been vetted. 

“You should trust that they have the competency to do the work and that you can rely on them. You (or your predecessor) hired them for a reason. Trust them to do their job, and in doing so, you’ll instill confidence and build mutual respect,” wrote Harvard Business Review

Top business management skills 

Business management skills may not always come naturally to small business owners. Starting a business and running the day-to-day operations of a business are two different skill sets. Develop these effective management skills to ensure your venture keeps growing. 

4. Delegation

Delegation is a necessary managerial skill to have as your business grows. Effective managers delegate tasks according to each employee’s strengths. That can mean getting to know your team as individuals, observing the day-to-day workflow of your business, and matching tasks to the individual most likely to succeed at completing them. And, strong delegation also involves delivering positive recognition to give credit where credit is due. 

5. Employee development

Research shows that many high-performing companies have one thing in common: manager support for employee development. Managers who help their team members further their careers can lower employee turnover, boost morale, and help the company achieve better performance. Even high-turnover environments, like restaurants, can benefit from investing in employee development initiatives. 

6. Creating a positive work environment

A key management skill for virtually every small business is the ability to set the tone for the work culture you expect your team to follow. The ability to create a positive, inclusive work environment involves a few different skills: communication, accountability, and active listening, for instance. The right management training can teach you the skills you need to quickly resolve employee conflict, train new employees, and enforce a collaborative work culture in your small business. 

No matter what industry your small business is in, these management skills coupled with the right POS technology can help your business thrive. Make it easier to manage all the moving parts with Clover’s innovative solutions, including employee management features, permissions, scheduling, time tracking, payroll, and more. 

If you’d like to learn more about Clover POS and the tools it offers to help you manage and improve communication with your employees, contact a Clover Business Consultant today.

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