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Do you ever have your mind wander and end up in a place that surprises you just a bit? That’s what happened to me just the other day.

Let me start from the beginning. One of the complaints I hear from both clients and friends is the struggle they have finding suitable staff. I’ve heard this from so many that I didn’t really question it. It just seemed to be the way things were, and a problem that apparently had no simple answer.

Well, you know how the mind follows a train of thought without even knowing how or why? Then the big question came to me … Would I hire me? Do I have the qualities that I look for in an employee? And just as importantly, if I were an employee, would I want to work for me? Let’s take a look at some of the complaints, and some of the solutions.

Complaints, complaints, complaints …

Let’s see if I can list them all …

  • They’re just not reliable!
  • They’re just not motivated to do anything extra!
  • They can’t or won’t learn new skills!
  • They only want to work day shift during the week, they disappear on the weekend!
  • (what can you add? I’d love to hear it)

Eureka! I think I’ve got it!

When mulling over the problems I’ve listed it’s easy to place the blame squarely on the other’s shoulders.  The problem with that is that your problems will never go away!

Things you can do:

  • When you draft up the job description, think about not just the tasks that will need to be done but the skills, aptitudes that you employee should possess. Sometimes, it helps to rethink the jobs you have and possibly reshape them to reduce overlap (some is good, it’s always nice to have back-up). You can teach anything, but mindset and attitude is innate and pretty much ingrained.
  • Is there some flexibility that you could add to the position? Getting input from employees can reveal creativity and let you learn a bit more about the individual. Some think that to offer freedom of choice, some latitude, you need to be hands-off. No, no, no, no!!! This is still your business, your responsibility, and until your employee has been with you long enough to know the culture of your workplace and can make decisions that you would stand behind. Put yourself in the position of having someone behave in this way to you. What would be your natural instinct, reaction?

I know it sounds like I’m putting a lot of the onus onto the business owner to do the changing, adjusting … but, you’re in the enviable position of having the trump cards, the control! If you’re an employee and looking to put yourself in a better position, all I can recommend is to be honourable, have great integrity, and even in adversity don’t fall into the blame-throwing, pity-party indulgence. Don’t justify bad behaviour with what “they” did. Put on your big boy/girl panties and show up, work for your money and learn.

If you’re an employer and seething at me right now, good. Yes, I said it, good. I’m glad you’re mad because that’s an indication that something will change. You’ll seethe, you’ll be pissed off, and you’ll call me all sorts of names because I’ve DARED to call you out on being a controlling boss. One that doesn’t elicit cooperation. One that people don’t quite feel like following. But the great thing is that you really don’t need to change a lot to change your whole circumstance!

  • Be trusting but not naive. Let them know you have processes in place and that they will be accountable, and then do it.
  • Let people learn in their own style but not on their own. Have training processes in place for EVERY aspect of your business and direct your staff so they know what’s expected and how you expect it. But if they like to learn hands on, great. If they grab the manuals and go off into a corner, fine. Don’t try to control what’s not controllable, just give the tools and let them know what results are acceptable.
  • Be consistent, clear and fair. Don’t punish someone for making a human mistake.

Whew! I think I’ve made my point. I know that many business owners think that doing any of what I’ve suggested here will be the end of their business, but I can assure you – it won’t. Oh, you may go through a bit of a cycle getting the right people in place. The ones that respond to this type of culture, but … once you’ve got it working you’ll have a happy, happy place.

You’re welcome …!

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