Think staff are your biggest problem? Think again

Tuesday 6 December, 2016 | By: Tamara Simon | Tags: Managing, motivating, small business, inspiring teams

Ask any business owner about managing staff and most will roll their eyes then start on a rant about their team not doing what they are asked.

The response usually includes comments like, “I thought my staff would help me but instead, I spend all day dealing with their problems so they’re actually just costing me time and money”. Sound familiar?

I’m constantly amazed by the number of clients who engage me to deal with someone who is causing them ‘problems’. Yet W Edwards Deming tells us that, “94% of all business failure is a result of the system, not the people”. Why does the rhetoric not match the facts?

Most business owners and managers believe their main problem is their staff, but it’s not. It’s a lack of simple systems because the knowledge remains in people’s heads or the procedures are so complicated, no one follows them anyway; or both.

I’m a huge fan of the TV show Fawlty Towers, and it always makes me laugh at how exasperated Basil Fawlty gets at Manuel’s lack of understanding about what to do. But where’s the training, where’s the documented procedures, where’s the patience? Instead, the business is run on assumptions and whims which change at the drop of a hat.

To work out if you really have staff issues, here’s my 7 questions to firstly consider about you and your business/organisation:

  1. Is induction just a tour of your office?
  2. Are tasks for each role communicated verbally (and often via assumptions) for each staff member rather than being clearly documented?
  3. Are you asking people to do more than their role?
  4. Is this happening on a regular rather than infrequent basis?
  5. Is training non-existent or frowned upon at your business/organisation?
  6. Are your expectations unrealistic?
  7. Are you playing favourites?


If you answered ‘Yes’ to at least one of these questions, what are you going to do about it?  You could say, “that’s how it is here” and keep doing what you’ve already done. Or you can realise it’s time to reset the business and your team by getting clear on your business, people and systems.
But ‘how’ you ask? The first step would be to review the role and responsibilities (the dos and don’ts) of each position in the business/organisation and succinctly documented these arrangements in a position description to reflect what is actually done, rather than what everyone thinks they should be doing.

Goodwill amongst staff and yourself will not last forever, regardless of how nice you are to them. Otherwise, you may find your great people (and the knowledge of your business/organisation) simply walking out the door, and then what will you do?

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About the contributor:

Tamara Simon is the Simple Solutions Specialist known as The BSi. As a Speaker, Author and Troubleshooter, Tamara specialise in helping reluctant Business Owners and Registered Training Organisations build simple profitable businesses they love. Website: http:// 



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