I have spent much time over my career managing groups large and small. Many of the owners that I work with are expanding and want to hire employees. They don’t have over 20 years of personnel management. They tend to make a couple of mistakes in dealing with new employees.
Mistake one is not having an employee handbook. Owners don’t want to set down a series of rules for employees that they feel are common sense. The thing is that what each person thinks of as common sense is different. The point of such a handbook is that the easy things are defined and spelled out. Don’t solicit the companies clients. Show up on time. Here is a dress code. There can be really controversial parts of these books. My son’s company wants food handlers to not wear jewelry. But does that include wedding rings? You can imagine that even simple things like that can get complicated very quickly.
Mistake two is thinking that employees are like owners. I often use the bacon and eggs breakfast analogy for this (The Chicken is interested but the Pig is committed). The employee wants the company to win, but probably not at the same level that the owner does. There is nothing wrong with that. Employment is a business transaction. Like any transaction there is an expectation from both sides of getting something that they want out of the deal. But to be clear, the employee sees this as a transaction and this is not a life commitment from them. It is a rental of their time and expertise. They are hopeful that if they do a good job that there are appropriate rewards in the future. In small business that can be a challenge, because how do you promote someone that works directly for the owner. There are ways to overcome this, but this kind of thought requires some evaluation and cooperation.
Mistake three is that performance issues are left to linger. Many owners don’t have skills in confronting these challenges effectively. When problems linger it impacts all the people around the problem. Other employees see a person getting special treatment. Customers are not getting service that is what they expect. Suppliers aren’t being provided orders soon enough to deliver. And the owner is always trying to turn away from the problem. The best way to handle any problem like this is both timely and specific. Any time you have to deal with a performance challenge the closer to the issue that you can do so the better. When talking about the problem, be specific. Using concrete examples will often remove much of the animosity from the conversation. What may be unclear is that the employee may be unaware that they did something improperly. When you don’t correct it, the employee assumes that they have done things right. If you let this fester, often times it will lead to separation when the problem does come to a head.
Now, one thing that should be made clear in all these things. It is almost impossible to provide too much positive feedback. Think about how many times a week you deal with negative situations and how many times you deal with positive ones. Don’t forget to praise good work being specific and timely in doing so. This will help create attachment by folks.
Have a great day!
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