9 Ways a General Manager Will Benefit Your Small Business

9 Ways a General Manager Will Benefit Your Small Business

Over the years, you built your small business on step at a time. Your hired more staff to sell and service your clients, then you added an office manager and/or an accounting manager. With each hire you expected to get “freed up” to act like an owner, not an employee.

Yet you are “crazy busy” every day– getting sales, monitoring if work is done, leading improvement projects, fighting fires, and otherwise tending to the daily work in your business.

What could be the cause? If you have 10 or more people on staff, you are likely missing a “level” of management.

You have level 1- individual workers, and you (level 4)- expecting to lead well-designed and highly functional systems run by others.
You might even have level 2- a “supervisor” who monitors daily work of direct reports (perhaps informally and tactically), and is concerned with the next week or month.

But if you want to plan 1-5 years out and make changes that will improve your people, process and profits, you have to get out of the “daily supervision” game.

You need a deputy.

Here is a list of 9 ways your deputy (general manager) can positively impact your organization:

  1. Watch the store– develop and implement dashboards with key business results, review regularly and alert you to any “exceptions” so you know things are on track and there are no surprises
  2. Process improvement – identify trends in your hassles, bottlenecks and other issues, research to find route cause and suggest solutions, then implement the solution
  3. Build your team– Identify new roles or more people before your delivery suffers. Recruit, screen, onboard and train new staff that are Ideal Candidates, build a virtual bench of pre-qualified candidates before a position opens up
  4. Coach the team– schedule, assign and coordinate work, monitor performance and attitude, give feedback, train and develop people for the best job fit and opportunities, engage the team to retain A players.
  5. Client experience building– handle escalation of client issues, routine relationship building, periodic follow up to uncover unreported issues and identify opportunities
  6. Get stuff done– Take your brilliant ideas for sales, marketing, process improvement, customer service and work with you to implement them
  7. Get Strategic – Provide another viewpoint and involvement input in annual goal setting, then cascade goals down to every person, communicate and implement via individual dashboards and team coaching conversations.
  8. Hold down the fort” so you can have dinner with your family and take several two-week vacations (almost worry free)
  9. Open up your schedule– so you can focus on thinking and planning, provide leadership and direction, building strategic relationships, and monitoring from a dashboard (instead of an avalanche of data)

Basically a deputy lets you guide the process while they drive the business.

Most owners wait far too long to get a deputy- a general / operations manager. The concerns are the usual- effort (how can I find and train a good one) and cost (how will I pay for him or her?).

Take a quick count- how many of these are happening now in your business?

What impact would these activities bring to your business if they were in place?

  • Would it tighten up your sales process to win more business and increase revenue?
  • Would it increase customer satisfaction leading to more sales and referrals?
  • Would it provide the systems for reducing your costs based on higher efficiency?

If you increase quantity and value of each sale 5%, and reduce costs 5% this can double your profit.

Can a deputy do this for you?

Focus on these 3 T’s- how not to spend time on the WRONG things

Focus on these 3 T’s- how not to spend time on the WRONG things

I do it, you do, everyone (except the birds and bees) does it… spend time on the WRONG things.
Managers and owners spend our time coaching and training our People to be more focused, more effective, more productive… but are we?

As a fan and follower of Laura Stack (the self-proclaimed “Productivity Pro”), I was excited to read her latest book, “Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time.”

She has a simple framework that outlines the 3 T’s — and is relevant for every People Coach (from to the CEO of a $1 billion firm to a small business owner with 5 people):

1. Thinking Strategically (Business)

2. Teamwork (Team)

3. Tactics (Self)

I call this Plan, People, and Process… and she has a nice breakdown of what a manager “should” be doing.

Get her book summary for free at this link: “Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time.”

(There is even a self-assessment on pages 13-17 if you are up for the feedback!)

As the coach, you have to both set the example as well as personally focus on the Right Things for your team to be effective and successful.

“*Managing by Wandering Around” doesn’t work anymore! (*A great term coined to Tom Peters and still used today by many successful small business owners, who are unfortunately trapped in their business because their team relies on constant attention.)

Four Reasons Why You Aren’t Coaching Your Staff

Four Reasons Why You Aren’t Coaching Your Staff

Like exercising and eating right, most business owners express to me that they know they “should” be spending more time coaching and training their team members.

When I ask why, the answer I get is “I am too busy” – but what is the real reason?

Yes, even small business owners and managers sometimes don’t “do the job” (a short list from my article 10 reasons why someone doesn’t do the job) —

Which one applies to your situationwhy aren’t you coaching your staff?

  1. You don’t know what to do / or how to do
  2. You aren’t motivated to do it (you are uncomfortable)
  3. You think it is pointless
  4. You believe something else is more important (after all, you do spend your time doing something else)

Let me first address 3 and 4— Coaching is not pointless and nothing else is more important to your company’s success.

If you want to retain top performers and get your team working together to delight your customers and grow sales— only positive coaching for accountability (based on cascading goals) will do this.

Here are four possible solutions for the “reluctant coach” — to increase the amount of coaching and positive impact on your team:

  • Design and use a management rhythm— know what to say, when to say it — to clarify expectations and coach for accountability
  • Make conversations easy– build trusted relationships (builds on the management rhythm)
  • Practice and learn how to be comfortable—do it, learn from it, do it again (and keep it positive and appreciative)
  • **Add a layer– Develop a team leader or general manager who will be the People coach, and interact with the team daily.
    (You can get updates from this person, and lead weekly team update and rocks meetings to still be active and involved with the team. Just not every day and on every issue.)

(**This is also how you grow the team to stop relying on your daily presence…)

If you are not interested in creating a better process, or learning how to do it authentically and naturally, that is just fine.

Just as long as you start developing a People coach on your team who will.

If Not You, Who is Coaching Your Team?

If Not You, Who is Coaching Your Team?

A new software for small business owners is called “17 hats” – and I think this accurately reflects the roles of a small business owner. You are chief everything officer (sales, people, operations, marketing, accounting, customer service), cheerleader and spokesperson, and as my family says “chief bottlewasher!” (if it needs to get done, you will do it.)

So it is no wonder you feel like you don’t have time to coach your team members monthly (much less weekly).

And no doubt some people on your team are easier to coach than others, so you tend to procrastinate in delivering feedback or talking about what would challenge and motivate them.

The data is clear—employees don’t just want daily task discussions (called “Managing by Wandering Around” by Tom Peters)—

Employees want to know how they can contribute, what is the purpose of their work, feedback on results, and that there are opportunities to develop and maximize their strengths at your organization.

This means you need a development plan for each person, coupled with regular two-way discussion on their aspirations and challenging assignments that meet their desired career path. (That is what we mean when we say “coaching.”)

If all of your conversations center around “what are you working on today” then they feel ignored, and will lose interest, commitment, and engagement in your job. (Reminds me of the joke – “I feel like a mushroom, left in the dark and fed manure.”)

Ultimately these unnoticed people will seek employment elsewhere where they can feel appreciated, a sense of accomplishment and contribution.

Or worse, stay in your job as “actively disengaged” working against your team. (Read my article—Want Employees to Tune Out? Ignore Them to find out the huge cost of the disengaged).

Every small business owner or manager can be a motivational, positive, and appreciative leader and implement a rhythm of weekly coaching conversations.

You just need a blueprint and training, and the willingness to learn and get outside your comfort zone to start having real conversations with your staff.

I have created a Free Video Course for you to learn more about the process for discussion and development to turn around your poor performers, energize your average, and engage and retain your high potentials. I encourage you to sign up here with my compliments.


Diana Southall is a fifth generation entrepreneur, and creator of the People Plan toolkit.™ Her firm specializes in coaching small business owners and managers to build, engage and reward a fabulous team!

Want employees to tune out? Ignore them

Want employees to tune out? Ignore them

Perhaps you are you frustrated by a poor performer, so you avoid her as much as possible (you don’t want to be mean.)

Or you are getting tired of mentioning the same instructions to the new employee, so you have stopped giving him guidance at all.

Or you are “too busy” putting out fires and responding to urgent requests, so you have little contact with your staff other than the hallway.

After all, your employees should know their jobs and should know the company’s goals, so why do you have to keep reminding them?

 Ignoring your team members is actually 20x worse than being a critical boss!

In fact, a recent study of employees found that of employees who feel ignored by their direct manager only 2% reported being engaged with their job, compared to 45% of employees who report their boss focused on their weaknesses, and 65% of those with a positive focused manager.

Almost half of these “invisible” team members reported to be “actively disengaged” – meaning that they consciously perform lower – versus 1% of those with positive managers.

Seriously, if you are not coaching your team then they are like a boat without a captain—sailing towards the horizon with no particular place to go. (I just watched Pirates of the Caribbean again- what a fun study in leadership!)

To be effective, team members need to be

Still worried about coming off as mean or critical?

The data is pretty clear—even the negative manager has about half his team pulling in the right direction. This is a huge improvement from 45% pulling in the wrong direction when they are ignored!

So definitely work on your own development to be a positive focused manager, but don’t be afraid to start talking to your team. (See our video training for a simple system to do just that.)

{Graph from Zenger Folkman “Extraordinary Leader” webinar series}


Diana Southall is a fifth generation entrepreneur, and creator of the People Plan toolkit.™ Her firm specializes in coaching small business owners and managers to build, engage and reward a fabulous team!

You can start working with Diana with free members-only access to People coaching resources, including informative video training, articles, time saving documents and templates. Join the FREE membership club here.