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When you’re in a leadership position, sometimes it’s hard to find a good balance in the workplace. Employer-employee relationships is a tough topic to tackle because it’s such a sensitive one. For my fellow small business owners in Fredericksburg, here are some great tips that I find helpful. I think they could help you lead your team better, in the right direction.

Friend VS Friendly

Honestly, it is difficult to find a balance between having office camaraderie with being the boss. As small businesses, our advantage in the Fredericksburg job market is that we can create a more relaxed atmosphere to work in. And the fewer people you have working for you the closer everyone will get. However, it can necessary to establish and maintain some kind of hierarchy so your employees are aware that you are still the boss. As a leader you need to remain neutral and treat each employee equally. No favorites allowed! You should also be ready and able to give your team honest and frank feedback as needed. It is perfectly alright to create close relationships with your employees, even to the point of hanging out with them outside of work, as long as they understand that you when you put on your boss hat, you’re the boss!

Foster Openness

Openness, transparency, and good communication are essential to creating a healthy work environment. The best way to do this is by taking a genuine interest in your employee’s lives, families, and passions outside of the workplace. Ask them candid questions and they may in return be rather forthcoming about their lives outside of the office. You want your employees to feel comfortable talking to you about things like a family emergency that are important to them, but could affect their performance. Openness is a two way street. Take the time to seek their input regarding important company decisions and keep them in the loop. By allowing them to have an active role in the company growth, you will take advantage of their valuable perspective and keep them engaged in making the business successful.

Respect and Interdependence

Encouraging employer-employee mutuality in the workplace can do wonders for staff morale. As a small business owner it’s crucial that you establish both a mutual respect and a mutual reliance between yourself and your employees. They need you, and you need them. You rely on them to do their jobs correctly, and they rely on you to be treated fairly. It’s important to be consistent in your treatment of all employees and to always keep it professional.

Let Them Go

If you start to feel like your employee’s efforts are no longer helping the business grow in the Fredericksburg region, do not waste their valuable time hoping blindly for a change! Instead, rely on the openness and respect you have developed to talk with them about your concerns. Perhaps the employee may become disengaged and no longer values his job, or maybe there is an unusual stress on their lives that is distracting them. If that is the case, be open with them about your concern for their well-being. Talk about ways to help them manage that situation while staying productive at work. Work together and create a plan for addressing both the situation and the impact on the business. Include a timeline for the plan – clear expectations are critical. If things don’t track towards that timeline for approval, you need to reevaluate your employee’s role at the company. Can things be worked out, or is it time to part ways? Don’t drag out the process. Everyone has held onto an employee for too long whether the person is family, a friend, or just because they dread the whole process. It can be difficult, but you have to realize that an employee who is not actively helping make your company stronger is stunting your growth and costing you time, money and progress. Letting go of that employee will be better for both of you in the long run.

So there’s some nuggets on leading a team that I’ve learned – some from reading, and some from hard experiences.  I hope they are helpful.  If you have a piece of wisdom you can share with me – please add it in the comments!