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When talking to a business manager/owner who asks for help, there are a few common areas where they tend to seek advice.

One of the biggest problem areas involves personnel matters.  These can be the most difficult mostly because people are complex, group dynamics can change a person’s behavior, and because you don’t want to hurt anyone.

As the employer/manager you want to treat people fairly and respectfully.  That requires work on your part.  You have to do research to make sure your employees are fairly compensated based on the skills required to perform their function and the value of their work to the organization.  This research also has to be documented.  For example, can the top salesperson be more highly compensated than the company controller? Absolutely, if that salesperson is producing great results that are driving the revenue gains for the company/division.

Not everything runs smoothly in an organization.  Annual evaluations for all employees is a must.  I would hold them every quarter for my officer group.  There must also be a grievance mechanism for your employees.  And you must be the one to settle disputes coming from employees directly reporting to you.

Hiring and firing is another area that gives managers/owners headaches.  Hiring is difficult.  Choosing the right person for the job is important, because if you are wrong, it can be costly and time consuming.

Resumes should be collected and filtered by the Human Resource department, if you have one.  If not, resumes should be filtered through the person who will be directly in charge of the new hire.  You can also utilize an outside consulting service for this purpose; they can be very helpful but also expensive.  I also made sure that new candidates were interviewed not only by the person that they would report to directly, but also at least one other person, hopefully a person knowledgeable about the position being filled. This can give you a second opinion as to the qualifications and right fit of the candidate.

Sometimes things don’t go well with someone’s performance and you need to make a change.  This is a difficult task.  If the person has done something harmful to the organization, such as stealing, you simply fire them as soon as you become aware of the situation.  But much more commonly, the need to make a change comes from a person’s subpar performance.  In these situations, the underperformance must be documented over time and discussed in your regular employee evaluations.  When the situation has been documented and the employee is aware of your concerns about performance, then you can go ahead and ask them to leave.  There should be no surprises for you or the employee about the potential for losing their job.

Hopefully this helps any managers or employers to deal with personnel changes or issues in the future. In a separate blog I will discuss goal setting and incentive reward systems for your employees.  These will help you greatly in managing toward desired results.