By Ksenia Zheltoukhova, CIPD Research Associate
For a few years now, the CIPD has been researching people management practices in SMEs, noting that the success of these organisations relies heavily on their people – their skills, enthusiasm, willingness and the ability to live the organisational values. Last week, at our conference in London, we launched research on how SMEs can retain their founding culture and values as they grow. This week, at our conference in Sheffield, we turn our attention to the unique leadership capabilities required in SMEs and have published a dedicated piece of research on this topic.
Since SMEs often have to balance short-term resourcing and survival priorities with the long-term health and growth of their business, it is usually down to every employee to lead on the business agenda, not just the owner or managing director. That said, without the right balance of direction and empowerment from the top, employees may struggle to make the right decisions on behalf of the organisation. One SME business leader told me:
‘It’s surprising how quickly you develop the practices of a large corporate. There are seven people in the room and everyone could be saying ‘I’m not doing that.’ So it’s constantly bringing them back to what we are here to do.’
Our new report Hands-on or hands-off: effective leadership and management in SMEs explores what those heading up SMEs need to do to enable their staff to do what is right for the business. It concludes that three key factors should be considered when managing and leading others in a small or medium-sized business:
While it’s important to learn from the experiences of others, our findings suggest that people management solutions should be tailored specifically to the business, with consideration to various factors impacting leadership in the organisation. We hope that the insights of these reports will help SMEs avoid building the ‘empires’ of the corporate world and use innovative people management solutions to retain the agility of their organisations.
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