Your staff (aka your team) are often a business’ greatest resource. And yet time and time again, I see that resource not being fully utilised, or worse thrown away. We often expend good time, money and energy in finding a great team, only to have them quit on us. If you have high staff turnover, then you absolutely need to be asking why. In fact, do you action exit interviews and actually find out? Do you even care?
You should care, because it’s a statistical fact that it costs 2.5 times a person’s salary to replace them. That’s the cost of recruitment, downtime in training, loss of productivity, sometimes loss of customers or clients due to the change and more. If your care factor was a little low before, maybe 2.5 x a person’s salary might motivate you a little more!
Here are 15 things you should never be doing when it comes to having staff
1. Not having Employment Agreements
When it comes to doing business, whether that is with clients or staff, it’s always wise and sensible to be crystal clear about the rules of the game. For clients, that is Terms & Conditions, so that they know what is expected of them, and what they can expect from you. The same goes for your team. They should know it’s not ok to tell your competitors all your trade secrets, or to share all your clients’ intimate details on social media. They need to know (in writing) their employment conditions, if they are casual or part-time or full time, what their salary will be and many other things. If they know, they have a far better way of fulfilling their obligations.
2. Not inducting well
Most people resign within the first three months of their engagement. For this reason, and helping them to settle in better, you should have an induction process. This will include showing them where things are, how to do their job, but also very regular catch-ups in the early weeks of their engagement. I suggest for the first month it’s no less than weekly. This catch-up, is not a flypast them with a brief “trust it’s all going well?” and keep going as if the answer will of course be a resounded yes. Actually, sit down and chat with them.
3. Setting the wrong example
If you have staff, then like it or not, you are a leader. Lead by example. If you turn up late, or yell at customers, or dress scruffily, then how can you turn around and demand your staff to turn up on time, are polite to customers and present well? Every single thing you expect of your team, you should be doing and doing more and better.
4. Paying them late
When it comes to staff and their money, this is one area you must get right. Often the biggest complaint from staff is if their pay comes late. I know years ago when I did a ‘boss review’ (where the staff get to review the boss, rather than the other way around) the one thing which came up was the inconsistency of pays. I always did pay on a Monday, so initially was stumped. Then I realised that because of daylight savings and me getting caught up in other aspects of the business, sometimes I was missing the bank deadline on Monday. Sure I always did on a Monday, but it didn’t always happen on a Monday. Knowing that, I then made pay processing a first in the morning task, ensured it was done by noon and everyone was as happy and content. A happy team member is more productive and provides a better service to our valuable clients.
5. Avoiding training
Some business owners have the mentality that they will not spend money training their staff because their staff person might take that knowledge elsewhere. The thing is that people don’t just work at a place for money. Interestingly that whilst money is important, it’s not the main motivator as to if someone will stay or go. People stay for training and advancement, because they like the work and because they feel valued and appreciated. Don’t give them training and sure, they will likely go.
6. Keep them in the dark
I’m not saying your team need to know everything, but they should know certain things. For example, if they are working on a project, they need to know all aspects of that project. Think of a task or project like a puzzle. If you hide or keep pieces of the puzzle, how can you expect them to finish the puzzle? These people are working for you – it’s in your best interest to help them in every way possible to get the job as quickly and efficiently as possible! Leave the game playing for the weekend with the kids.
7. Give insufficient time to complete a task
I had a boss decades ago who used to give you a chunky task to do at about 10 minutes before going home and expect it completed. I know this person had all day to prepare the task, but they were a grade A procrastinator. What this meant was that it was either rushed or (what usually happened) is that I had to stay back and do overtime. That cost his business more in expenses that could easily have been avoided. The other aspect of sufficient time is being realistic about your team’s workload, time things will take etc. You cannot expect someone to do 10 hours of work in 8 hours. We often can work faster for a short period, but long term, we will burn out … or quit.
8. Punish good behaviour
You’ll probably think that this rarely happens. However, it does happen more often than we think. In my prior business, I had 25 staff and two juniors who did junior tasks. One of my junior girls was awesome. Her filing skills were impeccable. Now the temptation was to just give her all the filing. She would not have complained and would have continued to do it for me and do it well. However, few of us love filing, so rather than punishing her for doing well, I rewarded her. After a period of time, she no longer did filing, because she had done it so well (she clearly needed no more practice) and I moved her up to more interesting and important tasks. She stayed with me the entire time she finished school and university … only leaving when she graduated. She was awesome, and I’m sure still is.
9. Throw in the deep end without support
I’ve talked previously about burning out people. If you don’t give them enough help, support, guidance, or even resources in order to complete a task or project, then a few things will happen. They can become frustrated and even angry. They might try their feel, feel they are failing and lose self-esteem. They might burn out. All these things lead to lower productivity and quite likely ultimately their leaving. Go back to the introduction paragraph of this blog – remember that very real cost of a person needing to be replaced.
10. Be their best friend and too soft
Being a boss can mean you are friendly with your team, but you should not become their best friend. Unfortunately, some staff will take advantage of this. They will turn up late thinking it’s ok, because you know how hard it is to get the kids ready for school, or that their hair curler was on the fritz again this morning. Being too soft will usually mean they don’t take you seriously and when it comes to the crunch, won’t do what is needed of them, or take liberties which they should not.
11. Let it be ok that your clients are rude to your staff
It’s never ok for your clients or customers to abuse your staff. I don’t care if the customers are regular patrons or good clients. That is not on. You have a duty of care to protect and keep your staff safe and that includes any and all abuse, inappropriate behaviour or rudeness by clients. Years ago a client was yelling at one of my staff over the phone. I could hear it. I took the phone from her and quietly but firmly said that he is never to speak to my team like that. He actually then conditioned his verbal assault on me. I calmly and politely said that I would not be spoken to in that manner and I will be hanging up. I did. I then told my staff that is how to handle that situation. He did ring back and apologised to me and my team member. I reiterated that we would not accept that manner and I would terminate services if it happened again.
12. Force too much change on them too quickly
One thing that is common with the average person is that they don’t like change. Business owners tend to have a higher tolerance for risk and for change. It’s in our nature often, but they must remember that the average person really dislikes change. For this reason, if you do need to change something, you need to have a plan in place. The gist of that plan is to communicate well and action it slowly.
13. Not explain why something is wrong
If your team have done something wrong, there is nothing wrong with letting them know and letting them know why. If you don’t tell them there was a mistake, then how are they supposed to know and do better next time? If you just say “it was wrong again!” but don’t explain why, then how are they supposed to improve? Few people are mind readers, so don’t expect them to simply know.
14. Don’t yell at, abuse or insult
Your staff are your staff and besides abusing them is illegal, it’s wrong. Scared, unhappy and disgruntled employees are not productive. They will do only as much as is necessary and not an ounce more. They will no longer show initiative, particularly if they got ‘shot down’ the last time they put up an idea. Show your team appreciation, be thankful and make your workplace somewhere that people want to be. Yelling at them, insulting them and general abuse is not where people want to work. Pretty soon they will be trolling Seek.com to get another job.
15. Reprimand in front of clients
Reprimanding your team in front of clients is the absolute WORST thing you can do. Your customers and clients should never see any problems or concerns. They will feel bad for the employee, they will not be impressed by you AND it deducts from their user experience. For the employee, it’s degrading and insulting. They lose credibility with the client and will have no respect for you. If you find yourself regularly yelling at your team, then …
You might say, this isn’t me and I really hope it isn’t. Actually, if you’ve got to the bottom of this article, you probably care enough to have kept reading and don’t do most of these things. The person who thinks they are well within their rights or that their staff are just dumb and have to be yelled at probably just shouldn’t employ people. Just like a domestic violence situation, people rarely change and if they are really bad, that is simply who they are. If you are the victim, then you are just better off getting out. However, if you are the employer and see a trait or two in the above, and want to do better, then you certainly can. Identify the triggers of when something ‘sets you off’ and develop strategies for that situation. We can all grow and improve if we want to.
There are many more things, such as allowing bullying, or being sexually inappropriate … the list could go on and on. If you do have staff and are not managing them well, for whatever reason, and want to change, then please reach out to me via firstname.lastname@example.org or 0411 622 666 to discuss how I might be able to assist you.