As you grow your business you will eventually need to rely on other people to execute the work while you focus on sales and running the business. This also means that sooner or later you will have a difficult employee to deal with.
Even a fantastic hard-working employee can go bad over time. What can start out as a few small problems will soon become a major headache if you bury your head in the sand and ignore them.
Use this guide to prepare yourself before you take anyone on. It will help you spot problems as they unfold and deal with them quickly.
And that will be of huge benefit to your business. Happy employees who enjoy their job tend to work harder, perform better and will show more loyalty to you and the business.
Potential problems with employees
There are numerous things that can cause problems with employees, but they can generally be squeezed into a small number of categories.
One of the most obvious is financial. Often an employee can feel they’re not being fairly rewarded for the work they are doing. That doesn’t just mean salary – it can also mean holiday entitlement or perks such as contribution to a pension or private healthcare.
The problem is likely to be more about perception than reality; with staff perceiving they earn less than they are worth. Remember, their perception is reality for that employee.
Review the working conditions and workloads of your staff
Working conditions is a category that can be as damaging as financial problems. An employee with a workload that’s too big or too small will under-perform. The problem is the same if the work isn’t challenging, doesn’t have enough variety, or the employee feels you’re not investing in them with adequate training. Take this into consideration when planning work schedules.
It’s also essential to ensure you have a good work environment. Send a message that working for your business is fun and no-one takes themselves too seriously, but the business insists on and rewards excellent performance.
Watch out too for employees with problems at home. Most people tend to keep personal issues from their boss, so the first time you hear about something it may actually have become a serious problem.
Look out for warning signs
Symptoms of problems tend to repeat themselves, so you will spot warning signs by looking out for trends. Is a normally reliable employee turning up a few minutes’ late every day? Or are two key employees noticeably not talking to each other?
Keep secure private notes of worrying trends you spot and be prepared to act on them.
How to fix problems with employees
Like a doctor, be careful not to just treat the symptoms. Try to find out what the cause is and treat that.
If your employee is turning up late giving them a dressing down won’t fix the problem. If they’re struggling to get early enough childcare, instead give them an opportunity to start and finish later. With one swift move you will sort their problem and increase their loyalty to your business.
In general, handing out extra money fixes problems in the short-term only. Salary increases should be used to reward performance and say thank you.
One of the key preventative measures you can do is give your team regular performance reviews. These don’t have to be painful, but they should involve a frank and honest discussion individually with your employees about your expectations and how they are meeting them. These sessions over time will help you tackle most potential problems head on, especially those related to workload and the enjoyment of work.
Finally, it’s worth having an open door policy, easily achieved in a small business. If your team know that whatever is wrong they can approach you to try and find a solution together, you’ll find the majority of employee problems in your business are quickly solved.