Small Biz Advice: Being a Better Boss


Holly Howard runs Ask Holly How, a small business consulting company based out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn that works with a wide variety of businesses from restaurants to retail to art studios and pretty much everything in between. Her clients report increased income and profit, decreased expenses and a significantly better quality of life. Holly also heads up the Small Business Book Club at McNally Jackson Books and teaches business classes at The Yard in Williamsburg. Her next event there, How to Open a Restaurant, will be on Oct. 30.

Got a question for Holly about running your small business? Email her and she’ll address it in her next column:

Dear Holly,

I’m the director of operations for a nightclub group. I’m training a new assistant manager (who was promoted, not a new hire) to take some of the more menial tasks off my shoulders. I’d like to give this person the sense of more responsibility, but not unload every task I don’t love onto them. And I want to instill in the staff and customers that he is also an authoritative power. How can I make this transition successful?


Dear Boss,

I love this question because I think almost any manager can relate to it. And the success of this transition is crucial for the success of your nightclub.

1. Write a job description. I know it might sound stuffy and dull, but you will run into problems down the line if you don’t make your expectations crystal clear from the start. Take the time now to write down everything you want this new assistant to be responsible for managing. This will also help you decide what to pass along to this new manager and what to keep for yourself.

2. Take time to really train this assistant manager. It’s your responsibility to make sure that he has all of the tools and skills he really needs to succeed. Don’t just assume that he does. If you want the staff and the customers to trust him, you must make sure he can do his job well. Take the time to pass along all of the information and tools you have and to develop his skills as a manager. Far too often, we throw people in leadership positions without really making sure that they have been trained properly.

3. Make this new reporting structure clear to your staff. If you don’t have an organization chart for your team, I suggest you make one. An organization chart basically shows how your whole team is connected and who reports to whom. This new assistant will need to be super clear on whom he reports to and who reports to him. This is the quickest way to show your staff who they should approach when they have a problem.

4. Communicate these changes to everyone. Don’t let news spread via word of mouth. Take the time to make a formal announcement, and let your staff know why the change is happening. They’ll have more confidence in this new assistant manager if you do.

5. Once you’ve trained this new assistant, do your best to let him do his job. It’s hard to release control of things that you have been doing for a long time, especially at the beginning. Take the time to train him well and respect the boundaries once he’s in place. It becomes confusing for everyone if suddenly you’re doing things for which he is truly responsible. And be sure to redirect staff and customers if they come to you with something that should be handled by the assistant. Remember that change is a transition and it might take some time for people to really embrace this new structure.

Good luck! A situation like this obviously means that your company is growing, so these are good problems to have. Follow these five steps and your transition will be smooth and productive.


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