Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach
By Terry Corbell
Business Consultant

Instead of Wasting Time Putting out Fires, Upgrade Your Staff



Many entrepreneurs feel trapped — suffering from headaches and wasting time reacting to fires — trying to quell problems.

They’d rather be happy and investing their time and energy to manage marketplace challenges to achieve higher profits.

They can’t, however, until they solve their internal problems in human resources, which constitute at least 50 percent of their headaches.

men meetingInternal factors contribute to entrepreneur insomnia, especially dilemmas over how to control costs, performance and quality.

How can you solve such challenges for profits? Upgrade your staff.

Here are 17 HR management strategies:

1. Have a job description for every position, no matter how little skill is needed. Regularly appraise workers.

Keep your most promising workers. If the others can’t improve then replace them, but take precautions before you let anyone go.

2. Train and monitor your supervisors to perform. Be wary of the 20 tell-tale signs they might be under-performing.

Of course, every employee is entitled to know the answers to their three questions: 

— What’s expected of me?

— How am I doing?

— What’s in it for me?

3. Constantly network to find the best employees. Ask your best workers for employee referrals, use trade publications, and advertise in economical local newspapers. Although tempting, free online ads won’t generate the most productive workers. Take the right steps to attract the best workers. Check references thoroughly using open-ended questions for comprehensive answers.

4. Screen for common sense, creativity and education. Einstein’s theory about imagination being more important than knowledge often works in HR.

5. Target employees who possess the three A’s: Attitude, appearance, and ability. Attitude is everything in showing empathy to other employees and customers. Both you and your customers will be pleased. While job knowledge or hard skills are important, so are soft skills in communication and teamwork. Coachable workers who aren’t afraid to work on their strengths and weaknesses, and set goals will make you money.

6. Family and friends will work fine as workers in tight economic times. Don’t forget temporary help firms for short-term projects or for hiring on a temp-to-perm basis.

Internal factors within your company contribute to entrepreneur insomnia, especially dilemmas over how to control costs, performance and quality.

7. Create a favorable first impression with a gracious welcome of new workers and encourage a buddy system. At the outset, demonstrate that you’re a leader so that you inspire employee respect.

8. Improve morale by developing an inspiring communications program. Whether or not your company is undergoing dramatic change, communication is key. Use formal and informal ways to dialogue with workers about priorities, celebrate success stories and encourage feedback. Survey your workers about their priorities. Accommodate employees when feasible. In essence, power your company with employee empowerment.

9. Don’t cut corners in training and development. Encourage continuous self-improvement. Invest in training, mentoring and education, but make sure you get top results from your training investment. The best workers will appreciate it. Don’t let your stars become free agents.

10. Treat workers equally and regularly enforce your company’s procedures. Make certain everyone knows sexual harassment is taboo. Make certain every manager knows how to avoid EEOC discrimination suits.

11. Focus on succession planning. Retain and attract leaders for your firm, and develop a succession-planning strategy to help your most talented employees ascend to senior levels. There is a link between financial performance and succession planning.

12. In talent development, make sure your new managers are trained to succeed in managing others. Help your managers to evaluate your company’s HR strengths and weaknesses. Eliminate any gaps in your workforce and establish a harmonious environment for company growth.

13. Save yourself time and develop your staff for the welfare of your organization. Delegation is a fundamental driver of organizational growth. So use best practices in employee delegation.

14. Promote diversity. It’s good business to consider and implement policies to recruit workers who are from other cultures. Add disabled applicants, and part-timers – such as stay-at-home parents and retirement-age workers. Remember slow motion gets you there faster.

15. In compensation and benefits, no boss wants to over-pay employees, but if you do your best to provide for employees, they’ll deliver stronger performances and take better care of your company’s assets. Use the right strategies if a valued employee wants a raise but your money is tight.

16. Encourage exercise and recreation.

17. Use exit interviews as opportunities for growth and to learn from any mistakes. The good workers might return or refer outstanding candidates to you, if you’re seen as a caring employer.

If these tips are properly implemented, you’ll see strong results.

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s a footnote on getting more productivity:

If you or any employees seem to be chronically tired, sleep apnea could be the culprit. Encourage your workers to participate in a sleep study.

The National Center on Sleep Disorders Research reported 12 to 18 million people have life-threatening sleep apnea. That’s a condition in which people stop breathing several times each hour and they don’t even know it.

“It’s not the hours you put in your work that count, it’s work you put in the hours.”

-Sam Ewing

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.