Managing Employees Made Easy

Managing Employees Made Easy

As a business owner, you already know that problems seldom present themselves one at a time. Your top employee, who never takes a sick day, will only contract the flu when the office manager is on maternity leave, and you have a client meeting out of town. When unrelated problems coincide, there isn’t much you can do but hold your breath until its over.

Employee problems tend to be predictable and often avoidable, though. When you understand human nature, you can often keep these types of problems from compounding and spinning out of control.

Here’s what you need to know about your employees:

    1. When an employee quits or is fired, everyone gets nervous. It doesn’t matter if the situation is isolated, in a different department, or completely expected and understandable. The same way a funeral makes even young, healthy people contemplate their own mortality, someone exiting the organization gets other employees thinking about how and when they might leave.
    2. Employees will fill in for missing staff, but not forever. You can ask your employees to do extra work until you can fill a vacant position, and most will happily help out. Even the most loyal employee, however, cannot work in crisis mode forever. After a while, employees lose faith in the stability of your business, or your willingness to get them the extra help they need, and they begin looking for other jobs.
    3. Your business is not the center of their universe. Your employees have career goals that may or may not include working for you forever. While you are trying to solve your staffing problems to shore up your business, employees are considering what kind of experience and opportunities you can offer them. When they reach a point where they feel their aspirations can no longer be achieved working for you, they will move on.
    4. Employees know what is going on in your business. They see the new guy is no longer around, and they hear complaints from that one disgruntled customer. What they cannot see is the whole picture from your perspective. They will just fill in the details they are missing in whatever way seems logical to them.

    These are common behaviors among employees across most industries. It doesn’t matter if you work in healthcare or run an engineering firm, your employees are human and likely to react in these ways.

    Stop it Before it Starts

    Using the common traits of human employees (remember, they are all human) can help you anticipate problems before they have a chance to compound. When you know what to expect, you can usually stop it before it starts.

    Here are some techniques you can use to keep a small employee problem from becoming a big one:

    1. You may not be able to anticipate someone quitting, but you certainly know when you are planning to fire someone. It would be inappropriate to give anyone advance notice of a firing, but you should be ready to step up immediately after the departure. Do something to bring the remaining employees together, like a company luncheon. Praise your employees and make them feel important to the organization.
    2. The hiring process cannot really be rushed, even though you want to relieve the pressure that everyone is working under. Consider bringing in some temporary help to lighten the work overload until you can get more staff hired and trained. Provide extra perks for employees who are carrying the extra load in the meantime, and be sure to praise everyone’s efforts.
    3. Meet with your employees periodically to discuss their career goals. You may be surprised to learn what direction they hope to go in. Try to find some places where their goals and your business needs overlap, so you can help each other moving forward.
    4. Keep your employees informed about your business beyond a simple need-to-know strategy. Do not assume that employees will not find out your biggest client just fired you. Instead, inform them and let them in on your plan to grow the business moving forward. When you hear something big, and potentially damaging, whispered through the rumor mill, address the topic with the whole staff and fill in as much detail as you can appropriately share. Facts, even when they are unflattering, are safer than the fiction that develops in their absence.

    You can’t change human nature, but you can learn to work with it. Clear and honest communication is usually the best solution to employee relations problems. In a small business, it is crucial to keeping your staff happy and productive. Happy employees do their best work.

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