I did an informal survey of my clients and asked them their top three legal issues. Number one was employees. No surprise. Dealing with customers is difficult, dealing with employees is challenging. While there is no way to have all employees function in the same way and act appropriately there are things that you can do to get off to a fresh start.
First, do a self-assessment. Before, you get started you need to understand yourself. I am not suggesting that you go to a psychologist, but that you take a leadership course to determine how you lead. This is important because different people need different types of leaders.
If you are a micro-manager, someone who is self-sufficient and can work on his/her own is not going to appreciate your “assistance.” If you are a hands-off leader, then someone who needs a lot of guidance is going to drive you crazy. This is important because you need to understand who you are before you hire someone who is not going to fit well into your organization.
Second, decide on pay. This is tricky. Most small businesses are struggling to pay its owner much less an employee. You may gravitate to paying minimum wage and that is completely understandable. However, minimum wage does not attract good and loyal employees. Minimum wage attracts those who need a job right now. It will lead to high turnover. If that is okay with you, then minimum wage will work for you. If it is not okay, then you should consider increasing the wage level.
Consider paying 2-4 dollars higher than minimum wage. If you have a sales team consider giving them bonuses for bringing in business and helping you get the word out. There is a balance to everything. You cannot through money at bad employees, so you need to evaluate whether the persons being hired are a good fit.
Which leads me to my third point, find good employees. Easier said than done, I know. I have had good employees and I have had bad employees, and I did not know the difference until I hired them. Sometimes that is the case. But the more you need to rely upon someone to help you with your business, the smaller the pool you want pull from. A staffing agency is slightly more expensive but it gives you an opportunity to work with someone before you hire them full time. Also, you do not have all of the responsibilities of an employer such as payroll. Also, make nice with people that you have enjoyed working with in other settings. Utilize your connections to find the right person for your business.
Finally, training. This is something that small businesses fail to do. Thinking that it takes too much time away from the business or that it is too costly, small business owners do not spend enough time training employees. Training does not have to be all day. It can be a small 30 minute session that reminds employees of methods of doing business. If a new problem comes up, you have can employees do a short presentation on how to prevent those problems. Make the employees a part of the training sessions.
Do not feel bad because you have difficulty retaining employees. You are not alone. Smaller businesses become great training for higher level positions. Big business can offer more money and more benefits than small business. That is just a fact. But loyalty in a small business can be obtained by making sure that you start off with realistic expectations and providing opportunities for employees to grow.
Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara founded The CEO Effect, LLC to work with small business owners who want to implement strategy to build capacity.