This recession has been a long haul for small business owners and it’s taking a toll on many a good UK employer.

However, I believe that there really are shoots of recovery beginning to show.  I have had the privilege of working with some fantastic local businesses recently in Shrewsbury, Telford and Newport and I would like to share with you 7 management habits I have seen them use to motivate and guide staff through some pretty tough times.

1. Show Integrity

Owner managers who lead with integrity and follow a sound moral and ethical code, give their employees a sense of stability and confidence, to help cope with challenges and uncertainty.

2. Listen

Managers who actively listen, seek input from their employees and give them opportunities to influence, are more responsive to market changes and their teams exhibit lower levels of stress.

3. Muck-in

Leaders who, when needed, roll-up their sleeves and muck-in eg to deliver on a tight deadline, keep team motivation and engagement levels higher.

4. Broadcast Good News

With an increasingly bad news obsessed media, the owner managers who actively seek out good news stories amongst their people and give them a bit of public recognition, find the morale of individuals and teams much improved.

5. Honesty

This can be difficult, but managers who are as honest as possible, without unnecessarily scaring their employees, keep staff on their side, pulling together, even through tough episodes.

6. Be Trustworthy

Not all management decisions will be easy or popular, but trusted managers deliver difficult messages that employees recognise are being  made for the right reasons.

7. Focus on the Future

There is a tendency during recessions to focus on the safe and comfortable, but the leaders who work with their people to develop new ideas find new opportunities to grow their business, taking it in new and exciting directions.

I hope you will find these ‘habits’ useful, but please let me know if you have any others you would like to share.

(The title pays homage to the ever-inspiring Stephen R Covey – I still refer to his book – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, over 20 years since it was first published.)

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