I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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Are you communicating well within your business?

Maybe you are, but a recent survey from the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) has shown that only 39% of respondents classed two-way communication between management levels as ‘effective’ or ‘very effective’.

Of course, that means 61% consider it moderately effective or worse. That’s a big number.

Note for micro-businesses (with 20 or fewer staff) 59% rated it effective or very effective while 50% gave that rating if staff levels between 21 and 50 applied. Staff rate this effectiveness less as the business size grows, which makes a certain amount of sense.

Communication message across a bridge over a busg creek

Communicating effectively is the only way to get your idas across to others – and to get them to help you implement your ideas.

Communications is important

On a positive note, the survey showed many people will stay in their current job because they have a great relationship with co-workers.

So the question is, how do businesses improve communications within teams and from the leadership to everyone else?

I think the key is wanting to communicate – the hows and skills can only do so much if management wants to keep secrets and power to themselves.

Improve communications ideas

From the survey itself, some ways to improve that perception of two-way communications include:

  • 57 % believe management listens and responds to employee concerns – so actively listening is a clear method for making improvements
  • 59% stated that being valued and understood is a major factor in employee engagement – that comes back to listening and ensuring communication really is two-way
  • 55% agree and 43% strongly agree that is it important to be acknowledged for their work – communicating appreciation of people’s efforts and skills could make a huge difference in their happiness and loyalty. Yet only 54% felt appreciated by their employer…


Do you think SMBs need better management?

I think small businesses (overall) are productive and working hard. Do you agree?

Economist with Treasury, David Gruen, is quoted as stating otherwise yesterday – and this has angered a lot of SMBs.

Amongst other things, he said that “family-run businesses tend to exhibit inferior management performance” and that having many small business in manufacturing impacts on Australia’s productivity because multi-nationals “tend to implement strong management practices”.

Business size and management

Note he is actually discussing results of a report showing that Australian managers ranked lower than those in many other nations, especially in people management. And that this same report showed lower managements standards in smaller companies – although only medium and large companies were studied, not small or micro businesses.

I would like a comparison done that includes small and micro businesses as well – maybe we buck the trend and are managed better than medium businesses?

Better management leads to more productivity and innovation, so management is important.

statistics for Australian small business

I like this quote from Gruen:

A  healthy economy allows experimentation by small start-ups with bright ideas, which may tend to have low productivity on average but which are likely to either exit, or improve and grow rapidly over time. It sees labour move over time towards higher productivity firms as they gain market share and away from lower productivity firms.

So Gruen was quoting from a report. If we assume the report was conducted well and reported accurately, there seems to be evidence of better management in bigger companies.

From your own experience, would you agree with that? Does your answer change if you ignore businesses with under 100 employees?

Maybe we can improve SMB management?

Instead of assuming Gruen is anti-SMBs, perhaps we can look at how we manage our SMBs and learn from the multi-nationals.

Take a constructive approach to improve our businesses, even if we don’t think the big guys have it right.

The main areas I can think of for improving SMB management are:

  1. having more written procedures to ensure consistency and efficiency
  2. outsourcing tasks to give back time for better management – or maybe go the whole way and outsource some management as well!
  3. making time to learn more – whether by reading more widely or attending seminars or doing actual courses. And keeping to that committment

In his speech, Gruen gave another partial answer:

 The level of education and skills of both managers and non-managers is positively correlated with management performance.

Unfortunately I can’t find any figures to show how educated SMB and big business managers are. It makes a certain amount of sense that further education increases your skills, but there are of course exceptions of fantastic managers and business owners with very little education.

And it’s a bit hard to make SMBs get more educated when they’re in the middle of running a business or two!

So what is good management?

How can we as SMBs improve our management?

What management practices do big business use that we can learn from?


By the way, you can read the entire speech transcript from David Gruen. I have no personal opinion of him other than this speech but am glad I looked it up rather than just relying on the second-hand report I first read. Anybody can sound bad with words taken out of context.