Many of us dream of starting our own business and working for ourselves. But turning that dream into a reality requires no small amount of work, as well as the skill to manage others that can be a challenge for many. Sheila McCann, founder of House of Bread, shared her insight into managing a production team as a small business owner.
McCann left a career as a public defender because she wanted to make a living doing something she could feel good about, a workplace that was positive and stimulating, with room for growth. She felt there were “good people in the bread business,” and since it wasn’t the type of thing someone got into to get rich quick, there wouldn’t be the level of greed found in some other entrepreneurial endeavors.
But being the boss means supporting and working with your staff to deliver the best experience for your customers. McCann has found that as a small business owner many of her employees are young people in need of training. “I have a lot of younger people working for me, and many of them are afraid of making mistakes or doing something wrong,” she said.
McCann and her bakery owners have focused then on empowering their staffs to make decisions when she (or the managers) is not there. “You have to strip away all that fear and indecision and boost them up by giving them the power to make decisions on their own.”
This is particularly important to McCann when it comes to her staff making the decision to do all they can to make customers happy. She knows that frequenting a House of Bread requires her customers to make a special trip, avoiding the convenience of the grocery store bread aisle. To that end, her most important tip for managing her staff is to give them the leeway to always say yes to customers. “We want to foster a ‘can do’ attitude and teach them that the customer really is their boss,” she shared.
Not only does House of Bread want to give its customers bread the way grandma used to make it, they want their staff to treat you as graciously and generously as grandma would have as well—one natural, freshly baked loaf at a time.