As a business coach I am involved with many different types of small businesses. I work with service companies, private practice, retailers…. One common situation that I run across more than 90% of the time is businesses struggling with employee problems. Common issues are:
- employee missing work alot due to family problems or personal health issues.
- processes mysteriously disappear after a few months.
- lax work ethic while at work.
When questioned, the small business owner has not communicated that the reliability, work ethic, or follow-through is not meeting expectations. And then guess what happens next. Other employees seem to lower themselves to the least productive employee if the company is accepting of the poor performance.
There are many strategies and tactics to fix these issues, but I want to focus here on preventative measures. Above all else – START OUT RIGHT WITH A NEW EMPLOYEE! At least stop the bleeding. Even if you are running around like crazy and plugging all of the holes, you must be prepared to set the expectations and properly train new employees. If you have to work on the weekend or come in at 4 am, make sure you have a plan for a new employee. Also, make sure that the new employee knows what unacceptable performance and habits look like. If not, when they see it around them they will quickly fall into line with the “office norm”.
Just setting expectations one time is not enough. It needs to be reinforced regularly. Meet at least one time per week to go over with any new employee how they are doing. If you see an “office norm” occurring from the new employee, address it immediately. Hopefully, they WILL say what about “so and so”. Perfect intro to explaining to them that they need to trust that you are addressing any indivividual privately and that they need to focus on your communication to them. Basically, you are telling them to worry about themself!
- Hire good talent.
- Communicate very clearly the expectations for job and behaviors.
- Train well on job responsibilities.
- Reinforce through frequent and consistent feedback addressing problems as they arise.
If you don’t address the problems as they arise, you know you won’t come back to it later. You will start to blame yourself for not communicating. Then you have now added more overhead with minimal positive impact. The cost is astronomical!
Remember, as hard as it is to address employee problems as they happen, it is excruciating to do it once the problems have snowballed over time!