Trouble employees do much more damage to a business than great employees do good. Employees are the driving force of your business. If they are motivated and given the right direction, they can move mountains. They can also destroy those mountains, faster then they were ever built up.
Risk Management is an important topic, one I will continue to write about here. We are going to discuss the five top employees that are risking your business, and how to account for each one.
Employee #1 – The Rock Star
Risk mitigation is one of the most fundamentally important jobs you have as a business owner. If you aren’t managing risk on a day-to-day basis, then it will manage you. If you have one or two key employees that handle a large portion of your business’ processes, then you are at risk.
Business owners never like to think about it, but people do leave. They leave for other opportunities, family commitments, or simply retire. Let’s imagine for a minute that you have a rock star mechanic. She can fix anything, and she fixes it in half the time it takes anyone else. This is a great employee and should be compensated well for her hard work. She is, however, a risk!
If this rock star left your business tomorrow, you will need at least 2 people to replace her. It may take you a month or more to find suitable people. What would your business look like without that income?
You need to find out what makes her such a rock star. There is a way she does things, and a reason she does them. Investigate and collaborate with her to create a system that works for your business. You may even find inefficiencies in her workflow that could increase her productivity even more!
Employee #2 – The Secretary
You don’t need a secretary! I’m sorry for offending all the secretaries out there, but your time has come.
I see a lot of businesses with secretaries, male and female alike. Sometimes they disguise themselves with more modern fancy titles. They sit at the welcoming area of your business, and greet all your clients as they walk-in.
If your business is less then 25 people, then this formula is for you:
secretaries = ego
Let’s look at some work an average secretary does, and what is a better solution.
1) Greeting Your Clients
Can you tell me why someone on your team is not greeting your clients? You’re 12 person team should be intimately familiar with your clients, and not having one of them rush out to greet them is insulting.
Nobody on your team is so busy they can’t walk up and greet someone at the door. If they tell you they are, watch how many times they get up during the day for nothing more then to stretch their legs. A walk to the entrance and back is a good way to stretch out those hammies.
2) Answering the Phone
Are you on a hosting PBX system? If not, take a look at companies like Ring Central or Grasshopper. These companies provide affordable ways to connect all your phones with extensions that can be dialed through an automated system.
People would much rather talk to a human, but who they really want to talk to is a human who can solve their problem. Unless your secretary is your #1 support rep or best-in-class salesperson, they shouldn’t be answering the phone. If they are one of your #1s, why do you have them at the front desk?
3) Managing Your Email
If you need another human to handle your email before you see it, you’re doing it wrong. I will write an entire post on handling email overload but know that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
If your business is not on GSuite now, go get it. Getting rid of SPAM and BACON are half the battle. Gmail helps you right out of the box with this. Filters for putting emails in predefined folders are the next step out of email hell.
You can also use a service like SaneBox, which will take things to a level your secretary never could. Email is a very personal thing. Keep it personal.
4) Ordering and Replacing Office Items
Have you heard of Amazon? I hear they are doing quite well.
Employee #3 – The Retiree
Retiring employees can always be a concern for long-established businesses. Replacing them can be hard as this retiree has decades of experience that the newcomer won’t have access to. Nuances that they’re just unaware of. You’re looking to bring on younger staff to handle client or customer relations, but now you need to manage and account for their work.
Your best action before they retire is to create some processes based on their years of experience. What did that person do? How did they do it? Document it, write it down, then develop a system around it.
Once you have created your ideal workflow and system, you need to think about how to implement it. In many cases, custom built software for your business is the right approach. Generalized platforms are not going to help your business grow in these cases, as you’ve got a process with your business’ workflow but it’s lacking automation. Imagine that you could bring on that younger staff to handle relations, rather than have them fill in productivity reports. You can automatically track their work, and the system will update you in real time.
Employee #4 – The Bookkeeper
Bookkeeping is right up there with mail clerks in the big category of “Why are computers not doing this job?” No human will ever beat a computer at numbers. Despite this obvious statement, bookkeeping has remained a task we keep throwing humans at.
There is no level of business that should have manual bookkeepers. Quickbooks, Wave, Freshbooks can automate large tasks by downloading your bank statements and categorizing the items based on Machine Learning. Your bookkeeper doesn’t actually know why you spent that $40 at that gas station in Vegas, but the software bot sure knows.
When your company scales up to hundreds of millions, or even several billion, you’ll have custom built account software that automates those tasks.
Employee #5 – The Middle Manager
“I hated the last company I worked for, but really loved the middle management they had.”
Managers are a necessity for every business, but at what point do the managers need managers? The middle manager usually steps in because the owners need to step back and work on the larger problems of the company, instead of the day-to-day.
The people hired for these positions are usually very good in business school and have excellent management skills. What they sometimes lack is a fundamental skill that got the original managers (the owners) to where they are now. Managers need to be Leaders.
Businesses are usually formed when people realize they are great at something, and open a business selling that product or service. When the first staff is brought into the company, the dynamic is much different. People know that the owners know their industry, the customers, and the product/service really well. When they are asked to do something by those owners, people respect that the owners know what they are talking about. They believe in them, and therefore believe in what they do.
People will do what they are told by managers, but without thought, creativity or belief. The middle manager you hired because he had an MBA and understands processes, has no credibility with your staff. People really need leaders, not managers. Stop hiring middle managers, start hiring middle leaders!
Your staff is your most powerful asset. They will work hard for you, give leverage on your time, and allow you to explore more opportunities.
Think of your employees like stones in a pyramid, with you at the top. If anyone of those stones is not in the right place, the entire structure is at risk. The larger the pyramid grows, the harder it is to keep all the stones aligned.
Keep your employees happy, focused and fulfilled.
Also published on Medium.