As your company grows, so too will your staff. And as your staff grows, so too will the personality issues within your company. As an entrepreneur, you need to make sure that your staff is delivering your product or service at a high level of quality and is ensuring that customers want to come back for more. Let's face it; managing your people is a huge part of what you do as a business owner.
It's easy to tell an employee to show up on time or to add a column to a spreadsheet – it's harder to tell them that their lack of confidence or their aggressive nature is making them hard to work with.
Lately several clients have asked for our opinion on how to deal with personality issues with their employees. They are struggling with how to guide employees who seemingly have no insight into how they are perceived by their colleagues or clients. While the employees demonstrate skill in many areas of their job and a strong commitment to the company, something in their manner or behaviour is making it difficult for them to perform their job effectively.
A little digging revealed that in these cases no one had been willing to clearly articulate to the employee the nature of the issue. After all, it's easy to tell an employee to show up on time or to add a column to a spreadsheet – it's harder to tell them that their lack of confidence or their aggressive nature is making them hard to work with.
One of the challenges of small and medium-sized businesses is having staff without having HR expertise or training. As chief cooks and bottle washers, entrepreneurs are likely prepared to tackle marketing, sales, and financial management, but they are often unprepared for the challenge of managing delicate interpersonal HR issues.
So, what's an entrepreneur to do? There are a number of ways to help your employees improve, assuming you believe they can be brought along enough to become solid members of the team. But here's the thing – the issue has to be presented clearly to the employee. Here are some tips to broach a difficult conversation:
- Speak to the employee in a private place
- Be direct, but compassionate and encouraging that this issue can be overcome
- Offer examples of the undesirable behaviours that have not been garnered from a third-party, wherever possible
- Offer clear examples of how you would like the employee to behave
- Offer support of coaching and/or mentoring
- Create an opportunity for a follow-up conversation
To be less than direct with an employee when they are underperforming robs them of the opportunity to improve and could potentially cost you if you need to replace them.