5 major people issues that cause headaches for every small business owner


There are no signs of people issues when you interview prospective employees. Interviewees are on their very best behaviour. They engage well. They usually dress well. They want to impress. You may learn more if you ask really good questions when you do reference checks. Even when you are speaking to people with whom the applicant has a good relationship, so you are only going to hear good things. New employees are rarely as good as they paint themselves to be the interview. So I guess a good guide should be that if they do not impress at an interview, do not hire them.

To minimise people issues you need to build a healthy culture and create a powerful onboarding process for new employees. The optimum time to train and set guidelines for a new employee is in the first 4 – 6 weeks. If you do not have a strong healthy culture and a thorough onboarding process, then people will find their own level in the way they handle themselves while they work for you. Business owners need to know that you get the culture that you build or that you allow. Healthy culture does not happen by magic or wishful thinking.

5 major people issues that cause headaches for every small business owner

1. The Affirmation Seeker – this person usually has a good work ethic but it comes with strings attached. They need lots of affirmation. They like to show you what they have done, both large and small tasks, often several times each day. If they do not get affirmation they can struggle with their motivation to work. This can work in your favour, if you are happy to be relating and giving affirmation to someone all day long. Most busy small business owners want their staff members to work more independently with less neediness. This person is a bit insecure and needs constant approval. They are a high maintenance employee.
2. The People Person – this person is fantastic at working with people. They are well suited to customer service. They can engage people well whether in person or on the phone. They can often handle several people at once, without getting too stressed. They love people; the more the merrier. However, almost always this kind of person is not as good with details as they are with people. They are not naturally systematic and they forget things. They will miss details and not follow through. If their role requires them to do administration or other detailed work, they will often not get it done, or do it in haste. They will always be more motivated to respond to people than to tasks, especially detailed tasks. They are great at customer service and often poor at administration. Partly this is a personality issue, and will not change. The answers lie in releasing them to do the customer service work, and helping them be accountable to systems that force them to do the essential details of their role.
3. The Quiet Person – This person does not talk much. They do their job, usually adequately, but nothing more. They are withdrawn and difficult to engage in a real conversation other than about work function. They prefer to work alone. It is difficult to motivate them or get any sense that they are really ‘with you’ in the business. They will sit in team meetings and never say anything, unless you ask them a direct question. They ask minimal questions, preferring to do research and work things out themselves. They do not seem to understand what it means to be part of a team. This type of person can work well for you if there are tasks to be done that require someone to work alone and be consistent. You need to help them build relationship within the team or they will remain a bit of a loner.
4. The Bossy Person – This person likes to get tasks completed but often wants to involve others on the team to assist them. They are quite directive and even ‘bossy’ and seem to be unaware of the negative affect they can have on other team members. In their mind they just want to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Their bluntness and directness can be disconcerting to other team members. They will tend to exceed their authority. They can be useful to your business if they are willing to receive feedback and become much more self-aware.
5. When two people do not get on – there are many reasons why people do not get on. People can just misread the other, take an instant dislike to another, or make quick judgements about the other. Others may have an argument that is not resolved properly so the tension lingers. Some disrespect inexperience or people who make mistakes. Others try to help and get rebuffed and then take offence. The causes of conflict are many. This can be a headache for small business owners. They are busy working in their business, and trying to grow their business, and now they have people problems with those they have hired. Instead of helping lighten the load they are creating a whole new set of issues.

There are plenty of other people issues that are not covered in this article; such as:

People turning up late, calling in sick, continually distracted by their home life, limiting their capacity to work
People who constantly need instructions – who will not take initiative – question whether they are dumb or whether they are simply afraid of making mistakes.
People who do not like correction – they get upset or take it personally, no matter how gentle you are in training them. They certainly do not invite correction.
What are the people issues that you find the most difficult to handle?

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Potential is a bit like dominoes


Have you seen dominoes fall in a line? When they standing before they start to fall they are full of potential energy. When the first one is toppled kinetic energy is released and the power is quite incredible. A domino will knock over another one that is up to 50% bigger. So with ever increasing dominoes you can literally release a chain reaction with the power to knock down a huge structure.

Potential Can Be Exciting … as long as it is released
Potential energy is latent, static, sitting there… waiting to be released. Kinetic energy on the other hand is moving, all about action, dynamic and making things happen.

Potential sounds full of optimism, and it is… at first. However, the longer you sit with potential the worse it is. E.g. A brand new business launched into the right market on the back of a good idea and a sound plan, has exciting potential. A 10 year old business which has not grown much for the past 4 years may still have some potential but it is definitely no longer exciting. There are problems that need addressing.

It is like a 15 year old who is just becoming confident and excited about his sports skills. Most agree, he has exciting potential. A 30 year old who is at the same level has potential but it is now a less exciting prospect. There is obviously a story and probably baggage to be unpacked.

McDonalds Brothers’ Restaurant needed Ray Kroc to help unlock their potential
After many years in the food business, Richard and Maurice McDonald realised their hamburgers were their main seller. In 1948 they set up their new style McDonalds restaurant in San Bernardino, California. They worked on an assembly line approach which simplified and systemised everything. They made tentative steps to franchise their operation but only managed to start one other restaurant. In 1954 Ray Kroc saw the potential, and asked for the rights to set up McDonalds Restaurants in the mid-west. They agreed to give Kroc the rights for 0.5% of turnover generated. By 1959 he had opened 102 restaurants as he inspired entrepreneurs to take on the burgeoning fast food industry. And the rest, as they say, Is history.

Some people, like Ray Kroc, seem to crack things open and have a knack for making things happen. Others often work harder and longer, but seem to misplace their energy and their focus, and so they struggle.

So, what can you do if you are working hard but not seeing potential released?

5 Keys to start releasing the potential in your business
1)You have to see it – what do you see as the potential for the growth in your business? What is your picture of how that could look like? If you see it you can paint the picture clearly. Write yourself out. Talk it out with others. Get someone to help draw it out of you. Then you will be able to articulate it and make plans as to how to make it happen. Until you see it and can articulate it, the vision remains locked up in you. No-one can help you.

2) Disrupt whatever is not working – If you are not seeing progress, change is required. There is no alternative. This takes courage and usually some assistance. To keep doing the same things expecting different results is guaranteed to drive you crazy.

It is so easy for a business person to become settled into their business lifestyle and daily practices. Routines are good as long as they are working. I know business owners who plug away month after month with just enough results to stay afloat but without really cracking it. The daily routine established when their business began is no longer serving them. It requires regular tweaking and sometimes radical change.

3) Create a working plan – A plan cannot be too exact or detailed. So don’t waste too much time trying to make it perfect. So many things will change along the way. However, once you can see the potential, you do need an outline of the steps you need to take to move you towards your vision. A working plan is one you keep updating as you take steps and keep learning.

For example, the Apollo 11 mission to land Neil Armstrong on the moon was ‘off course’ over 90% of the time. They simply kept adjusting their course as they went along. However, they had a clear vision, and a working plan which was continually updated by real data as required.

4) Take action every day – Action, even small steps, will start to release the potential within your business. Too many become consumed responding to the day to day demands of their business. If you can do one thing every day then you will make constant progress. To move quicker, get assistance from a mentor to help you see which actions are most strategic each day. A good mentor can help you see the 5% of actions you can take that will help you cut through. This is a twist on the Pareto Principle noted by Gary Keller, author of The ONE Thing. For breakthrough there is not only the 20/80 rule, but 5/95 rule. The 5% of actions that will give you the 95% of results.

5) Gather others to share your exciting journey. If you can achieve your vision alone it is not big enough. As you inspire others to catch your vision and join you in taking action things can multiply. Vision is always caught more than taught. Your team will catch your passion and your ideas and eventually see what you see. They can then help you plan and work towards finding the ways to turn the vison into reality. When others truly share your vision it will take on a life of its own and begin to exist outside of your mind. This is when potential can be fully released. To get to this point requires passion, persistence and a strong sense of purpose.

Potential is always linked to personal growth
Finally, in order to be a business owner who is enjoying the benefits of potential released, you must always be learning and trying new things. In this fast-paced digital age so many things are changing. You cannot afford to stand still. Businesses that release their potential are led by business owners who are always learning. They are ready to step up and learn what action they can take to move forward. If you settle and become satisfied it is probably time to sell your business. You will start missing things and begin to slide backwards. Always keep taking action.

A question:
Can you see the potential in your business and what are you doing about unlocking it?

*This article was first published on the Sydney Hills Business Chamber website under the title Does Your Business Have Potential?

Personal growth is a MUST, not a MAYBE.


Personal growth does not just happen. Change happens all around us every day. Much of it is negative. If you are going to make sure you are continually growing as an adult, you need to be deliberate about it. Many adults stopped growing years ago. They are now responding. If they were honest on their resume they should say 3 years’ experience 5 times over rather than 15 years’ experience. That’s because after 3 years they relaxed and stopped learning. Now they wonder why others are getting promotions and new businesses are taking their market share. In the last 12 years they have learned very little.

To be successful in a sustainable way, smart people know they have to work hard to choose at least some of the change in their world. To be a leader in today’s business world you cannot be a responder. Responders are shaped by the forces around them. They can feel like a victim or out of control as change overtakes them. Leaders look ahead and see what might be happening in their industry and in other areas of interest in their life. They make sure they are learning what it takes not just to keep up but to lead.

Following a well-crafted and regularly updated personal growth plan enables you to be a leader not just a responder.

Consistent personal growth requires a ‘whole of life’ personal growth plan

Smart people are committed to pursue growth in their industry. They love to be ahead of the curve with new technology and the latest trends. They are committed to the growth journey to be an industry leader or to advance their business success. This will involve reading, courses, degrees, conferences, etc.

Others realise they also need to grow in areas of character and personal discipline. This is the challenge to deal with possible self-sabotage tendencies that undermine performance and relationships. E.g. Learning to deal with anger and frustration when things become pressured; developing resilience to cope with setbacks; or strategies to resourcefully wind down after an adrenaline-charged week with less alcohol, more exercise and earlier nights; or establishing healthy sleep, eating and exercise routines.

The things that undermine business or career success are much more likely to come from neglected issues in your personal life, than from a business-related source. Hence the need for a personal growth plan that embraces the whole of your life.

A commitment to lifelong learning is good for your health

If you pursue personal growth in the things you can control it will make a huge difference to your confidence and your ability to lead through change that can be bewildering and out of your control. It is fascinating how the human brain works. If we are making progress in one area of our lives, e.g. personal fitness, there is a flow on effect into other parts of our lives. We feel better when we are creating positive change that is working for us. We feel more in control.

A mentor will help you implement a personal growth plan

A mentor helps you in 3 ways:

To identify blind spots,
To create appropriate plans, and
With accountability to execute a plan.
We only know what we know. A blind spot is something we cannot see about ourselves. Checking in regularly with a mentor who comes to know you well, is a great way to create and maximise an appropriate personal growth plan for you. A mentor helps you know yourself better. They will help you identify your blind spots and set up personal growth plans to assist you develop the strengths you need to be successful across your life.

A mentor also helps you stay accountable. It is easy when you are busy to avoid those things that are non-essential to the bottom line, especially if they take you out of your comfort zone. Learning new things is always a stretch. It requires healthy self-respect. No-one else will notice if you do or you don’t execute your plan. Just like a personal trainer makes you work harder in the gym than you would on your own, so a mentor keeps you accountable to your personal growth plans.

What things have you done differently this year that are evidence of your commitment to personal growth?
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