As a small business owner, it’s so important to find the right people for your team. I have spoken with small business owners who are thrilled to see their employees go above and beyond to improve the business. They say they never knew that an employee was so dedicated, or that someone exceeded even their highest expectations. But sometimes, and more often than you’d expect, businesses hire the wrong person and end up suffering certain consequences, which include:
- Lost time and lost productivity – We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money,” and hiring the wrong person will cost a business both in training time, and in restarting the hiring process again once they’re gone.
- An unhappy team and workplace – A difficult employee can put pressure on the rest of the team, who must pick up his or her slack, and deal with extra work and stress that they might find unfair.
So, how do we go about dealing with a bad hire? I always try to keep some important questions in mind:
- Is the employee in the right role? In some cases, the person just isn’t a good fit for their role, but they may still be a good fit within the business. Consider speaking with the employee and changing their role, as that may lead to a happier and more productive employee and team.
- Are problems arising from simple mistakes, or cutting corners? Mistakes are part of the learning curve, especially for new employees. It’s possible that the employee has made correctable errors, rather than demonstrate a character flaw.
- Does the employee fit with the company culture? In the end, if the employee is not a good fit within the workplace, it’s best to let them go. Cut your losses early with a bad hire, so that you can save your time and money on finding a better fit, and a more productive employee.
Now that you’ve dealt with a troublesome hire, how do you go about finding the right person? Here are some tips you may want to consider when reviewing possible candidates:
- Do your research. It’s a given that you do your research on each candidate beforehand, but take a closer look at their resume, LinkedIn profile, and references. Note any gaps in employment or any ambiguous points on their resume, and check their online presence on websites like Facebook and Twitter.
- Go beyond the obvious. Ask the candidate questions that go beyond their resume and cover letter. Their answers may reveal more about their personality, and the rapport you build with them may show if they’re a good fit within your company culture.
As a small business owner, hiring is one of the many tasks you have to dedicate time to, and though it may be tiring, finding the right team members will be best for your business in the long run. If you’d like to learn more from other small business owners on hiring, and many other strategies, contact me today!
As a business advisor I see the issue of poor performers come up all the time. If you’re a small to medium-sized business owner you want to be out there growing and developing your business, not mired in staffing problems. Without big human resources departments and manuals of policies and procedures to follow, I know you often don’t have a roadmap on how to deal with poor performers. The reality is that regardless of the size of your business or your particular industry, at some point you will have to deal with this issue.
What are the causes of poor performance?
Poor performance can be the result of many things including:
- Not understanding expectations
- Lack of ability
- Lack of motivation
- Not a team player
- Chronically late
- Bad attitude
- Personality issues
- Non-work related problems
- Health issues
Why is employee performance so important to your business?
Employee performance affects organizational performance. A poor performer can create a toxic environment in your workplace, dragging down your entire team.
How can I avoid poor performers in my business?
Here are a few measures that I feel may help you to avoid the problem of poor performers.
- The hiring process: Choosing the right employees is crucial to a successful business but it’s not easy. If upon re-evaluation, you’ve discovered that you’ve hired several poor performers, perhaps you should consider outsourcing the hiring process to an external agency. The money you pay to the agency may actually save you money in the long run.
- Job expectations: Be clear about exactly what the job entails and what your expectations are.
- The onboarding process: Onboarding helps new hires acclimatize and orient to your business so that they can quickly become productive, contributing members of your organization. Have an onboarding plan in place for new hires and make sure that the tools they need to do their jobs are in place on their start date. E.g. workstation, computer, security pass, etc.
- Regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings: One-on-one meetings between employee and manager can potentially head off problems. Speaking about issues as they arise or have the potential to arise is always better than leaving them to fester and grow.
What can I do if I have a poor performer?
In my experience I’ve found it valuable to try and ascertain the root cause of poor performance before any action is taken. If the reasons are personal or health related and have nothing to do with the job, perhaps a leave of absence is in order. If an employee is lacking in ability, perhaps upgrading their skill set or transferring them to a different department is the answer. If the problem is attitude or motivation perhaps setting performance goals will inspire the necessary change. Try instituting quarterly performance reviews to address any performance issues and monitor improvement. If all else fails, you may have no choice but to let the employee go.
As a first step, I suggest that you review poor performance issues you’ve had in the past or are dealing with now. Evaluate what action to take in order to rectify the present situation and what changes you can make going forward in order to avoid the issues of poor performers.
Are you suffering from vacation deprivation? If so, you’re not alone. So much has been written about the importance of a work/life balance, but not enough Canadians are living it. According to Dr. David Posen, author of Is Work Killing You?, “Humans were never designed to have stress all the time. Our stress reactions were designed to be turned on and then off. That’s the healthy cycle. But today we operate in a semi-permanent state of stress. Proper vacationing is an antidote to chronic stress. It is absolutely imperative that Canadians are vacationing each year – and not just one time per year.”
I understand from many of the business owners I work with that you worry about leaving your businesses because you feel nobody else can do your work, and although that may be partly true, I can guarantee that if you burn out – you risk not having any business to run.
Make this the year that you take a vacation – consider it preventative medicine – and instead of just thinking about taking a vacation, prepare for actually taking one by following these 4 tips:
- Plan your vacation during a slow period. It will definitely reduce your stress levels about going away.
- Deal with all time sensitive issues before you go. In theory, anything that arises in your absence should be able to be dealt with by your staff or wait until you return.
- Contact your clients well in advance and let them know you’ll be going on vacation. If they have anything that requires your special attention you’ll be able to take care of it before you leave. Delegate a point person for them to contact in your absence.
- Empower your employees to step in and step up while you’re on vacation. Delegate specific tasks or duties. Leave detailed instructions about how to deal with situations that may arise. If you’d feel more comfortable with regular status reports, have a staff member email you at a predetermined interval with a report of the company’s activities during your absence. Let your staff know that they can reach out to you under certain circumstances and be clear as to what these circumstances could be.
All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. We all need time to relax, recharge and reconnect with family and friends. What are you waiting for? Start planning your vacation!
Regardless of whether a business is seeking to satisfy a major increase in demand, or strengthen its competitive position, growth is a vital step in the development of any business. From hiring employees and increasing office space to increasing production, expanding services or extending product lines there is a lot to consider. Growing your business requires you to take a bit of a leap. Look for these signs before you look to grow your business:
1. You are being approached by potential clients
When you find that you are receiving request and inquires from customers and clients, this is usually a sign that you are in a position where growth is possible. Your brand has now gained just the right amount of exposure to for growth to take place.
2. Your team is strong and ready to grow
It is vital to know if your company has the right staff in place for growth to be possible. Valuable leaders are important however, having a strong team of employees who are experts at what they do and are committed to your business, is crucial in the growth phase.
3. You have the necessary funds for growth
Knowing your sales cycle and what income you can expect on a regular basis will ensure that you do not experience a shortage in cash flow during growth. It is important to know this as you will not be able to successfully grow if your sales do not match with your income. Measure this before you grow.
4. You are personally ready to grow
Are you ready for the commitment that comes with growing a business? If you are not prepared, business growth can have affect your personal well being as well as your family and daily life.Your business may be ready for growth but it can only be successful if you are ready for it. Experts say business owners should assume a 12 month adjustment period to achieve normal balance in the business after a growth spurt.
5. You have realistic expectations
Know what your business can handle. It may be difficult to not get carried away if you’ve mastered a particular market or excelled in a specific area. You may think you have everything you need to do exactly this all over again but be realistic in what you hope to achieve and what you can handle. Consider the economic benefits, your existing infrastructure and current resources to evaluate if you will be trying to take on too much at once.
6. You have met and continue to meet set goals
Stop making excuses for failed goals and instead find alternate ways to meet them. Doing this will encourage confidence throughout all levels of your business and help overall growth in the long run.
If your business is growing, you’re doing something right. It’s also important to understand that growth is a disruptive force. A period of substantial growth will influence every single aspect of your company, which is why you need to adopt a strategic mindset.
When we hear the term “staff turnover,” we immediately think it’s a bad sign that a business is not doing well, or they don’t follow the best hiring processes. As a business advisor to small businesses for over 30 years, I can assure you that staff turnover can also be a good thing for your business.
Pros To Staff Turnover:
- Fresh Ideas: When you hire new employees, they can bring fresh perspectives, new experiences and energy that could lead to innovative ideas. When they are not attached to the old ideas nor to the “way we do things” attitude, they can bring you insights you didn’t have before.
- The 20% Rule: You know the saying: “20% of your staff do 80% of the work”. When you reward the 20% for their efforts, this can energize your workforce and strengthen your role as the leader and the balance of staff will either improve their performance or move on.
- Avoid Complacency: When staff feel what they did yesterday is “good enough,” they have become complacent and this can be the enemy of every organization, fostering an environment of “status quo” and an aversion to risk-taking only leads to poor employee morale and increased employee sick time and poor job satisfaction.
Cons For Staff Turnover
- Dismissal: It is never a pleasant thing having to dismiss an employee, but once you have determined employees are no longer fulfilling the role you hired them for, and you have given them ample opportunity to improve, it is time to save your business and let them go.
- Rehiring: Hiring new staff ultimately costs money and time. To ensure you hire the right people from the start with the right skills who fit into the company’s culture, make sure you have a clear hiring process, with written job descriptions and defined roles and responsibilities. You should have an onboarding process and internal measurement and evaluation matrix to ensure they are performing the role you hired them for.
- Train and Communicate: Invest time in training and communicating your expectations of them in their new role. Sometimes smaller businesses have a tendency to hire a person to perform a specific role, but then start loading them with responsibilities and tasks that are outside of that role. For example, asking the new sales person to design your brochures or write content is not realistic.
Your new hire will not know everything about the job in the first week, so do not set them up to fail – rather, give them clear examples of what you expect from them in a measurable and manageable document. Bearing that, if an employee has been with you for many years and is still not able to meet your expectations, then the right thing to do for both you and the company is to let them go.
Regardless of your hiring process, every business needs to have staff turnover as roles change and your business evolves. Don’t see it as a bad thing, or a good thing, but rather a “chance to grow.”
Do you think employee turnover can help or hinder your business?
Many business owners feel that mentoring their employees is part of their job, particularly when hiring millennial junior staff, but I caution you against doing this as it can have detrimental effects on your business. When you are in a position of power, and responsible for hiring, evaluating, disciplining, and firing, if you blur the lines of this employee-boss relationship into a mentoring relationship, you give up this power and therefore must live with the consequences if something was to go wrong.
When you need an employee to perform for you, how can you possibly mentor them? A mentor, as I outlined in my last blog, “is a trusted “go-to” person with decades of expertise and a deep interest in helping you succeed. They take a personal, active, and thorough interest in your growth and work in partnership with you to provide the support you need.”
Although many owners provide guidance and business expertise, it is to help their staff learn their job and to familiarize them with the industry. It is, in fact, to help them grow in their role and with your company.
I discuss employee mentoring all the time with business owners because it can have serious consequences to your business. I have outlined a few myths about mentoring employees that I hope will provide you with some insights to help you better understand the issue.
Myth #1: As a business owner, mentoring your employees helps them perform better, improves morale, and can help your business succeed. The opposite is true because an employee you mentor begins to see you more as a mentor (there to help them) rather than a boss who is there to teach them, ensure they perform well, and also discipline them if something goes awry.
Myth #2: Being a supportive boss is a type of mentoring. Being a supportive boss is a fantastic managerial style, however, do not mistake this style with mentorship. There always needs to be a clear line between an employee and an owner. If the relationship becomes too casual, you could run the risk of favouritism, or providing biased critiques, and this could lead to performance issues and profit loss.
Myth #3: My staff needs a mentor to show them the ropes. A mentor does not show employees how to do their job; rather, they encourage them to reach their career goals. If you need your staff to learn the ropes, then what they need is a good manager, or senior staff to job shadow.
Myth #4: I know what my employee needs to succeed. As an expert in your field, you may have some insights as to what your employee needs to succeed, but your role is to help them succeed in the job for which you have hired them. If, for example, their career goal is to work overseas, are you willing to help them meet this goal as a business owner when it runs counter to their employment with you?
Myth #5: The best bosses are mentors that help an employee grow. Being a good boss with a supportive management style will help your employee grow. As a business owner, you can help your employee grow by reaching their goals of the job, and challenging their boundaries to success; a mentor helps employees grow their careers, reach external goals (e.g. moving overseas), and support them regardless of performance in their current role.
As a business owner, if you want to mentor someone, then I would suggest looking at external opportunities. If you want mentoring to take place within your organization, then I’d suggest you could hire an external business mentor or ask your senior staff if they are interested in mentoring some of your junior employees. If you hire an external business mentor, they could also mentor your senior staff.
There is no doubt that mentoring offers huge rewards to everyone involved, but as a business owner you need to be clear when and where you should be mentoring because you could be setting yourself up for blurred lines that impact communication, discipline and ultimately loss of respect.
As a business owner, have you mentored your employees? How did this help or hinder your business? I look forward to a lively discussion!
As a business advisor, a common question I’m often asked is if team-building activities are actually important. The answer is a resounding yes. You may not realize it, but you may be doing yourself a disservice as a business owner by not taking the time to focus on building the strength of the relationships between your team members.
It is no secret that a cohesive team of employees leads to greater success for any business. Why exactly? I’ve outlined below a few key benefits of team building that are worth considering:
- Increased Trust
- When you have a team that is constantly working together, a mutual trust between all employees will make every process much smoother. Employees are able to depend on one another and become more productive as a result of trust.
- Greater Communication
- A team that can’t communicate will never get anywhere fast. While everyone has different styles of communicating, understanding these differences will make your team more efficient and better functioning overall.
- Greater Collaboration
- An “every man for themselves” mentality is detrimental to a successful team. Creating strong bonds between your employees will help them realize the interdependency of the team and appreciate the collaborative opportunities available to them.
- Easier Conflict Resolution
- Team building is a great way for your employees to get to know one another on a more personal level. With large groups, you’re bound to have varying personalities, and team-building activities are the best way to become accustomed to each other’s dispositions.
There are a variety of team building activities to choose from that focus on these specific outcomes. While you try to make team-building fun, you want to ensure that the takeaways of the activities directly influence your employees working environment, so your team members recognize the benefits of participating.
As a business owner, it is vital to pay attention to your employees and understand what team dynamics they may be lacking, and react accordingly, after all your employees are the core of any successful business.
What is your favourite team building activity, and how did it influence your team dynamic? Share your experiences with me in the comments!