Having the right people implies having the skills on your team that are needed to meet your customer’s needs and also to grow your business. These skills include both the tangible knowledge skills and the attitudes needed to take your business to the next level.
As someone who supports multiple businesses on an as-needed basis, I want to emphasize that not all skills necessary for your business need to come from employees. A great business team will include advisors from many areas that are not on your payroll as employees. Many industries, the law, tax and insurance to name a few, have built an expectation that they will serve multiple businesses on a consultative basis. Others, including my own, are new concepts to business owners.
Obviously if you want to meet your customer’s needs you must have people who can produce your products and services with precision and competence. Having the right number of employees can be determined using metrics. Businesses use metrics all the time to measure how many hours are required to produce products and extrapolating that to the number of employees needed to meet demand. The same logic can be extended to other areas of your business, including administrative functions.
You also need the right combination of skills. Having a specialist on the shop floor that isn’t fully utilized is a waste. Having someone sitting idle waiting for the phone to ring while others are struggling to get invoices out the door is also a waste. You should evaluate your employee’s performance and also explore whether they are willing to gain additional skills. If they are willing, cross train your staff and make your team more versatile. If they are not open to improving themselves and being fully deployed, find people who want the work and want to grow with your company. Too often I have seen situations where longer term employees refuse to grow and management is reluctant to do anything about it. A bad hiring decision, and we all make them, that has been allowed to remain unaddressed is still a bad decision whether you realize it in two weeks or ten years.
You may find that you have outgrown some of your people. They may have worked well in a smaller environment but cannot meet the growing demands of your business. Be compassionate and help them find other roles or a new work environment where they can be productive and not slow your organization down.
A few years ago, my employer purchased a competitor and we brought on all of their office staff. Because the clerks were accustomed to working in a smaller environment, they had an expectation that their previous work volume and pace was all they were capable of achieving. Our existing staff handled more work and soon complained that the acquired employees would not carry their weight. In the end, we lost everyone of the acquired team and replaced them with new people who were up to the challenge.
Employee attitude can be infectious, both good and bad. A good attitude should be encouraged and rewarded. A bad attitude must be addressed quickly to avoid infecting the rest of the team. Don’t wish it away. Confront it and if necessary, trim out the infection to preserve the greater body. That sounds harsh but the alternative is a team that wastes time, is disillusioned and does not produce.
You deserve a bright and eager team who understand your goals, buy into your plans and will enthusiastically help you build the company.
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