Having frustrations with staff seems to be a theme for the small business owners I’ve been working with this month. Employees under performing, not taking responsibility for their outcomes, having little initiative and being too content to let the owner do the lion share of the income generation.
Does this sound familiar?
It certainly reminds me of my early days in business. I remember like it were yesterday the mind blowing frustrations of having to take back project after project and do it myself… because no one else seemed to care enough to get it done right and on time. The resentment ate away at me like a festering wound as once again I was at work before everyone else and working late on jobs I shouldn’t even have had to look at. And the harder I had to work the grumpier I got with everyone else. My fuse was short and my tongue sharp. Mine was not a happy workplace… for anyone.
It took me a few years and a nasty personal grievance claim to realise where the real problem was. And it wasn’t with my staff.
It was me. I was a crap manager. I’d been so busy expecting everyone to be like me that I’d overlooked a fundamental life truth. Most people are nothing like me. I am actually quite unusual. I am an entrepreneur. I see the problem, I leap in with the solution, I get it fixed, I charge onto the next problem, seeing opportunities where others see barriers. I get impatient with other people when they don’t behave the same way.
And this, my friends, is where the real problem with employees lies.
If you have started your own business there is a very good chance that you are not a great people manager.
Ask yourself this: why are you not an employee?
Because you are a self starter, you want to be in charge of your own destiny, you want to achieve great things and realise your own dreams, in your own way. You place high expectations on yourself and are willing to push yourself to make it all happen…Right? You own your own business because you have taken a leap of faith and let go of the pay cheque.
You also have a lot at stake. You have to make money to survive, to pay bills and grow your team. Your customers are everything to you and you will bend over backwards to make sure they are happy. You will do whatever it takes to succeed.
So why don’t your employees feel the same? Why does no one else work as hard as you? Why don’t they care as much? Where is their ambition? Their initiative? Their drive?
Here’s a newsflash. If your employees had all the same qualities as you they would not be your employees, they would be your competition!
You simply cannot expect your employees to have the same levels of drive about your business that you do.
But you can create an environment where they find their own sense of empowerment and passion. Where their own unique skills are recognised and their efforts rewarded. Where you see their strong points and use them to the company’s advantage, making them feel useful and treasured. They can come to work with a fire in their belly and work harder than you do to achieve amazing results.
As long as you get out of the way!
If you are struggling with your staff right now, take a look at your management skills. How is the culture of your company? Are you expecting everyone to behave the way you behave? Are you behaving like a resentful parent… picking up after your kids then berating them for being messy?
If you are having team problems, it’s time to change your approach. My world changed the day I realised that I was the problem. I knew that my strengths lay in other areas, so I hired someone who was an amazing manager. She took over the hiring and the management of people and left me to do what I was excellent at… being the leader, the visionary and the inspiration.
Maybe you should do the same. If you are not ready to hire a General Manager as I did, bring in an HR expert on contract. Get them to help you re-engineer your culture and your management style so that you get to empower more and work a whole lot less.
If you’d like the names of some excellent HR experts email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
From the desk of Liber8me. Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.