Published August 7, 2006

Entrepreneurial Management Skills You Want Before Hiring

Entrepreneurs make the best and worst kind of bosses. By comparison, an employee who has always been an employee and is promoted through the ranks to become a manager is probably going to be an average boss- sometimes a little better or sometimes a little worse, but generally they have learned from the people who came before them about how to be a manager.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, probably gave up the life of going to work every day to start and run a business that has become "their baby." Entrepreneurs can be the worst kind of boss because they are often optimistic dreamers who see the big picture and have little time for the detail, which is often the opposite of what an employee needs in order to know how to do their job. But entrepreneurs can be the best kind of boss because they don't want to mimic the shortcomings of their former managers and thus (hopefully) will develop their managerial skills with these 3 qualities:

Vision-casting: This is one of the most exciting aspects of owning a business. This is the big picture stuff that most entrepreneurs seem to thrive on. And when you get an employee (or several) you'll need to do it even more. Your vision for the future - once you've hired new people - no longer is about you satisfying customers with your personal touch. Instead, you need to envision a bigger company with bigger goals and bigger responsibilities, and employees who can match your level of service. Once you have the vision, you'll need to share it with your employees in a way that lights a fire under them to strive passionately for the same level of quality you demanded once when you were a solo operation.

Leading: Leading is one of the qualities that will separate you from the manager at your old "day job." Managing is about trying to meet the status quo and follow the rules that have "come down from above." As the owner, though, you ARE the above and you need much more than managing qualities to see that your processes are followed. You need to lead. Your employees will follow if they see that you do something with purpose and if they have some kind of reward outside of keeping their job and getting a paycheck every week. A manager will encourage the minimum; a leader will excitedly race employees to perform beyond the maximum. As a leader, your success will depend on how much your employees are willing to follow your lead. You'll need their respect and "buy-in" in order to do that.

Evaluating: One of the most challenging areas for any manager - especially entrepreneurs (but for different reasons) - is the area of evaluating. Managers often struggle to create meaningful employee evaluations that elicit positive change in the workplace because they are trying to keep their employees and at the same time realize that any problems with their department's staff will reflect negatively on them. For entrepreneurs, evaluating is quite a different challenge because it is so easy to be too critical (since hiring employees may dilute your initial vision for company).