Staff, employees, or team members; sometimes also referred to as aliens (well at least referred to as aliens by me), are always an interesting subject. They are the easiest and best way to leverage any business but often also come with issues, stress points, frustrations, and all sorts of hang-ups in the mind of the business owner. Following quite a few of these conversations recently about staff, I thought I’d help bust some of the myths Business Owners have around staff in general. These are just a few of the recent things I’ve heard:
- “I need more staff”
Do you really? How do you know? If it’s only because your team has said so, then maybe it’s better to rather dig a little deeper into their productivity first. Timesheets are great for this. Now I know everyone hates timesheets, and even some of my clients have said it feels like micro-management. With everyone being ‘busy’ every day, how do you truly know whether their inputs (busy all the time) are effectively being used for your required outputs and results? Often timesheets highlight major inefficiencies that can be fixed with some additional training, better systems, or a reallocation of tasks. Very rarely are more staff required. More often than not, it’s better management of the inputs towards the desired outputs that are most needed.
- “Maybe I’m being too unrealistic”
Stop that immediately. Silence that little inner voice now! That’s often someone else’s opinion that has been imposed on you and you’re trying to use it as an excuse. Was Steve Jobs not ‘unrealistic’ as perceived by his staff and often even the world? Is Elon Musk not ‘unrealistic’? It’s my Business and therefore my Rules. So for you, it’s your Business and therefore your Rules. If your staff, or anyone else, thinks you’re being unrealistic, they are of course more than welcome to say so. All feedback is welcome. The reality though is that true world-class performance almost always comes from unrealistic expectations. To be great you need to expect, and dare I say demand, more! Follow your gut and don’t allow the opinions of others to be imposed on you.
- “If I train them then they’ll just leave”
Yes, but if you don’t they’ll STAY! I know which I’d prefer . Elon Musk stresses the importance of creating an environment where staff don’t use your Wi-Fi to look for another job. Sir Richard Branson also says “take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business”. You MUST train your staff and believe me you need to train them a lot more than once. Just because they’re in a sales role, and have sales experience, and ‘studied’ sales; doesn’t mean they know sales and can actually sell. Recently a group of salespeople in a workshop admitted they couldn’t even remember if and when they last read a sales book. Shocking I know, but so often true across all staff and all levels. Train your staff. Just get over it and do it.
- I’m worried if I apply pressure they’ll leave
Wonderful, then let them leave. There are two types of staff generally. The first type, those that rise to a little healthy pressure and actually start performing. The second type, those that crumble, fall and end up leaving. Wonderful, let them go. In a country, and even a broader continent, where unemployment is at record levels – I promise there are better people out there craving to work for you. Even including that added pressure you’re now going to apply. You have the privilege of providing employment to a staff member. They have the privilege of a job. You procure their expertise on a monthly basis, and they provide commensurate value that exceeds their salary. Simple equation. You know what you need to do … and to who … go sit down and have the conversation.
- You can’t get good staff
Please read point 4 above again. Yes, we get spoilt, comfortable and always strive for the easy way out. Recruitment can be a pain and often it ends up being a little like finding a needle in a haystack. Keep searching, scratching, and looking and you will find good talent. Maybe the only exception currently is IT Developers. They truly are scarce globally, let alone trying to find the good ones . For the rest there is plenty. Be open to looking longer and harder. Don’t take the best of a bad bunch and rather have the courage to start your search all over again. Hire slowly and fire fast. That way you’re more likely to get the good ones or at least get rid of the bad ones quickly to allow you to get to the good ones again. Then always be recruiting, even if you don’t need someone. You don’t have to employ someone just because you ran an advert. The best ones are often not looking for something new when you’re recruiting. If you’re always recruiting, you’re much more likely to find the good ones when they’re looking.
Well, these were just some of what feels like hundreds of conversations of late. Remember this: your Business your Rules! If someone doesn’t like it, they’re welcome to join the rather long unemployment queue or do their own thing. Good luck Pumba!
Talent is out there in abundance. The better you get, the more attractive a proposition you become to the talent. Trust your gut and just be you. You and your business will thank you for it .
Harry Welby-Cooke, ActionCOACH Country Partner and Executive Coach