Often, I talk with business owners who tell me all about their employees. Mainly, I hear comments about how frustrating it is to have them, hire them, and keep them. This is especially common for managing millennial employees. When it comes to running a small business, there are lots of challenges with communication and understand the importance of customer service. Business owners say things like, ”They aren’t loyal!”, “They don’t know how to think.” and “They don’t value our customers.” I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I wasn’t the same way. Hey, I used to go through assistants like Murphy Brown and then blame them. But after about 10 years in business, I realized it was me.
Since then, I have grown significantly when it comes to dealing with my team. I also now use an HR consultant to help me with my job descriptions and hiring process, and things run a lot smoother. Back in the day, I thought of my employees as “the staff”, then as I matured they became “my staff”, and now I am clear that they are “my team.” Employees often don’t perform well because of us. We are the leaders of the business, and our staff watches us to learn what is acceptable at work. Now that’s not to say that you don’t hire bad eggs sometimes. But the first person you should look at when your team lets you down is yourself. Here are a few areas to consider:
Could Training Be The Issue?
How well did you train them? Did you train them at all? Or did you toss them the keys and say good luck. Were you hoping they would figure out what you needed them to do and by when?
Are your processes documented? No one can read your mind. You must invest in your employees by training them to do their job. It’s called onboarding. Depending on the position, you should invest two-to-six weeks with each new employee in their job. Consider yourself their job mentor.
What is Your Management Style? What Kind of Leader Are You?
Visionary leader–Are you a big picture thinker that keeps everyone focused on the mission of the business?
Coercive leader –Are you the type of leader that just barks orders and demands immediate compliance?
Pace-setting leader—Do you run alongside your team working just as hard or harder than them?
Autocratic leader—Does your management style work with you controlling all the decisions and gathering very little input from other team members?
Democratic leader—Do you invite feedback from everyone before you make major decisions?
Coaching leader—Are you the type of business leader focused on developing employees? This leader is focused on how to set up the team for success.
Different situations call for different types of leadership, but people leave people, not jobs. So if your business struggles with high turn over, consider how your leadership style might be turning off your employees.
Leadership vs. Management:
Being a leader and a manager are different roles. Being a business leader doesn’t necessarily make you an effective manager. Good managers are facilitators of the team’s success by managing communication, providing resources and project details. As the business owner, you want to create a culture of psychological safety where all ideas are welcome and where anyone can be a leader on the team. If you don’t invite feedback from your team, you’ll be making all the decisions alone, which is a lot of pressure. You also might miss out on a great idea from one of the interns.
Work on Your Leadership Skills
When I started in business nearly 20 years ago, I was not the leader I am today. I had to work on it. I enrolled in leadership courses such as Leadership Inc. Philadelphia, and the Urban League Leadership Institute. I also attended executive education courses at Dartmouth College, University of Virginia, and Harvard University. If you can’t afford to make that kind of investment in your professional development right now, you can also read a few books. Here are some of my favorites.
- Influence by Robert Cialdini
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Start With Why by Simon Sinek
- The Power of a Positive Team: Proven Principles and Practices that Make Great Teams Great by Jon Gordon
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
It’s important that you understand that your leadership skills are something that you can to work on. As you approach hiring and training you next employee, think about how your leadership will impact their long-term success.