It is a well known business truism that one bad employee can undo the work of two good employees without even trying! They can be your worst nightmare or they can be almost as valuable to your business as you are and sometimes more so. Controlling them and directing their energies is a demanding and challenging task and one that has baffled and concerned me on more occasions than wish to remember.
The problems with employees are varied, overstaffing, understaffing, disputes, low morale, misdirected enthusiasm, delegation, job suitability, hiring, firing etc.
Right about now you’re thinking “I don’t need employees they’re too much trouble!”. Wrong, if you are going to expand and grow you will eventually need help, employees provide that help. As I have found over the years, some of my employees have saved “my bacon” on more than one occasion and literally can’t do without them.
Many successful companies regard their employees as their most valuable commodity and even some countries will claim their most precious resource is their people, Japan for example. This is a philosophy that you should adopt, because if your customers are treated well by your staff the profits will look after themselves, because remember, it doesn’t matter how cheap you are, if you treat customers badly, you will never see them again. And disgruntled customers have big mouths – remember that.
Again with anything, it requires planning and employees are no different. A staffing plan should consider the following:
- The present and future requirements of the business.
- The business functions required to meet your objectives.
- The number of employees required to perform these functions.
- The type of people needed (skills, qualifications, personality type).
- Where are you going to find these employees (competitors, friends, family, advertise)
- Do the jobs allocated have a practical and worthwhile purpose.
- Can the jobs allocated, be done in a more efficient way.
- Holiday staffing requirements, which employees can go on holiday at the same time without throwing the business into total chaos.
When considering these issues remember you should always find the person to fit the job not the job to fit the person. The trickiest part of employment issues is hiring. One of the main contributors to staff turnover is poor staff selection by employers.
The lesson here is to be careful, be very careful when it comes to selecting the right people and at the same time make yourself aware of the anti-discrimination legislation otherwise you may find yourself on the losing end of a dispute.
I’ve heard that 80% of employers lose these disputes and must pay damages or offer the person the job – great isn’t it? – your idea, your business, your risk, your personal choice., your money and “they” dictate who you can and can’t employ!
Here are a few tips to help you through the “staff selection minefield”:
- Before placing an advertisement, ensure that it is clear and straight to the point as regards experience and job description.
- Leave personal preferences out, don’t mention age, sex, marital status, race or anything like that – it’s not allowed.
- Define the job role on paper stating very clearly the functions to be performed including any menial tasks as these are the ones that seem to cause the most problems. Also, state things like hours and any unusual conditions and experience and/or qualifications required. so there can be no dispute on what was agreed to at the interview. Give a copy to each interviewee.
- Pre-plan the interviews by listing relevant questions to ask each interviewee so you get an “apples v’s apples” comparison.
- Always reference check, ask questions about personality, attitude to work etc.
- One thing I always thought worked well was asking a few technical or test questions. If they were offended by your asking these questions then they should be avoided at all costs as they are probably people who are too tightly wrapped or can’t handle a little pressure and you don’t need employees like that. If they answer the questions and get them wrong they were obviously either nervous or they didn’t know the answer.
- If you think they were nervous give them a little longer and reassure them that being nervous won’t harm their chances at getting the job and this generally produces positive results.
Once you have completed the interviews and made your decision, advise the successful applicant by phone and then send a letter of confirmation with details like salary, starting date, position etc. Also, send each unsuccessful applicant a letter thanking them for applying and for their effort. Courtesy goes a long way to building goodwill within a business.
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