Strengthening management skills for SMEs is a priority if you want to guarantee the success of your emerging or established business. It is true that managing a small company does not have the same demands as managing a large corporation. But that does not exclude managers of small and medium businesses from applying soft skills in the performance of their activities and in the interaction with their collaborators.
Seen in this way, running an SME is an opportunity to practice attitudes and skills that drive the growth of the company. It is even positive to promote these behaviors and values among workers, since this provides them with valuable tools for their professional development .
Soft skills and management skills for SMEs
Specifically, we can define soft skills as those social and personal skills that allow positive interaction with co-workers, customers and suppliers. Such attitudes help us to carry out tasks efficiently and to create a pleasant and motivating work environment. They even contribute to establishing productive links with the interest groups contemplated in the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility strategy .
Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that soft skills are as important as the knowledge and skills to exercise a trade ( hard skills ). This is because all work activity requires some level of communication or exchange between people. Even today, when telecommuting and self-employment and freelance work are booming.
In this perspective, the acquisition and practice of soft skills is equally relevant to hold positions in any hierarchy, from operations to managers.
The most important managerial skills for SMEs
Small and medium-sized companies that arise as initiatives of excellent professionals in their areas, but with weaknesses in soft skills , are really very common . The same goes for many startup creators and managers . In these cases, the exercise of social skills tends to be empirical, informal and can even be influenced by character and mood. Under these conditions, it is not uncommon for conflicts to occur that seriously affect the company’s productivity.
Below we will present the most important managerial skills for SMEs that you must know and put into practice to successfully manage your business.
Leadership: the first of the management skills for SMEs
Although it seems obvious, be careful not to confuse leadership with the power to give orders and be feared among your collaborators. On the contrary, the fundamental task of a leader is to persuade and motivate the members of a team to work according to the objectives of an organization.
From this perspective we can say that leadership is one of the most complex managerial skills for SMEs because it brings together several qualities in itself. Some of these are:
- Assertiveness or ability to express clearly, firmly and respectfully what we want to communicate. Without a doubt, it is an essential skill when we outline the company’s objectives to the collaborators and assign them the tasks to be fulfilled.
- Persuasive ability. That is, the ability to expose the positive consequences of an action, attitude or idea.
- Closeness or the ability to be accessible by their collaborators, without mediating hierarchies.
- Exemplary conduct. In essence, the leader must try to be a model of behavior and attitude for the members of the staff. To do this, they must be a real example of punctuality, responsibility, respect, discipline, organization, enthusiasm and solidarity, among other values.
Other managerial skills for SMEs essential
Organizational capacity and time management
Without a doubt, knowing how to prioritize tasks and establish deadlines for their execution are essential conditions in business leadership. For this purpose, the manager must consider the corporate objectives and the annual plan of the organization, as well as the real requirements of the clients.
In other words, the business leader must organize the activities in order of importance. It is also important to delegate tasks to collaborators according to their skills and experience. Likewise, the deadlines for compliance must be realistic based on the level of difficulty of each action.
On the other hand, it is possible that unforeseen tasks arise that alter the planned order, but the manager must discern which are relevant. Attending emergencies should not become a habit since the time and effort that should be invested in the real priorities is distracted. Based on this, it is pertinent to apply the principle of “ management by objectives and not by emergencies ”.
Openness to participation and changes: management skills for essential SMEs
Likewise, listening to and taking into account the contributions of collaborators are conditions that drive the motivation and commitment of human talent . In this sense, meetings and brainstorming sessions where team members actively participate in planning activities and making decisions have a positive impact on productivity.
Similarly, SME managers must be aware of the unstoppable evolution of technology, business and labor relations. Consequently, they must remain attentive to changes and develop the capacity to adapt to them, leaving behind the classic and obsolete management schemes. If growth and expansion in the market are part of the company’s vision, these skills are essential for managers.
Emotional intelligence and empathy
It really is difficult to exclude emotional intelligence and empathy from a relationship of management skills for SMEs and large corporations. Currently, these two are among the most valued soft skills by HR departments and are a fundamental part of the characteristics of excellent leaders.
In short , emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to substitute negative emotional responses to stimuli and situations that are commonly disturbing. It is obvious that this is a skill that is acquired through careful study of human behavior and our own reactions. In the same way, it requires a lot of practice to assimilate it.
For its part , empathy is recognized as the ability to listen and understand the reasons of another person without necessarily being on their side. Basically it is about recognizing and respecting the position and emotions of the other with their differences of opinion and particular circumstances.
Both skills are fundamental for the negotiation processes with clients and suppliers, as well as for the resolution of conflicts with or between team members.
Finally, we recommend delving into these and other soft skills related to leadership, taking into account their importance for the productivity of the enterprise and the establishment of a positive work environment.