November 24, 2014

Managing Staff in a Tough Economy: Who Do You Fire, Who Gets That Raise?

We’re in business, so we don’t get to sit the tough seasons out and come back when it’s all better. Despite the economy, the small business owner still has serious management issues to address.  We can tackle them head on,  grow our businesses and ourselves–or we can ignore them, but that could eventually put us out of business. Success is the goal, and the better the team, the better the business.

Here are three suggestions to help you take care of your team, so that they can take care of your clients.

Managing Staff

1. Focus on the little steps and everyday strategies.

Your team is no good if you can’t keep them focused. And you can’t keep them focused if you can’t keep yourself on track. Have you ever tried to build a business with your eyes glued to the television? It doesn’t work. In the same vein, jumping from one task to the next without focus and an ongoing sense of completion is just as unproductive. You’re busy, but  so is a cat when he’s chasing his tail.

In “It’s All About the First Downs,” Diane Helbig gives some great tips to help you grow your business in “baby steps.” Instead of focusing on that big, amazing, and sometimes overwhelming plan, she has you shift your focus to the little steps.  If we address the day-to-day details consistently, then we will eventually arrive at our big goals.

Diane says, “I’ve been confronted with people who are having trouble focusing.” She believes the “root cause is…an inability to see a big idea in small pieces.” I like what she says, because I believe your company’s future rests in your ability to manage the details of the dream, the day-to-day elements. In fact, the more focus you have on the daily strategies of your company, the more focus you can expect from your team.

Making the shift from the big idea to a daily grind that will get you where you want to be isn’t always easy. But Diane’s advice will get you started.

As you focus your team—and reap the benefits from it—you’ll probably want to find a way to reward them.

2. Try a new kind of raise: performance-based pay rewards.

You can’t grow your business without your team. So how do you take care of them if you are in a situation where you have just enough cash flowing to keep the doors open? Anita Campbell discusses performance-based raises in  “Should You Pay for Employee Performance?

You can’t give raises with money that you don’t have. So, if they make it, then you pay it. Anita explains, “A good pay-for-performance plan will focus on the aspects of employee performance that increase sales and profits. As a result, there will be more money available to pay  employees for their performance.”

In the article, Anita tells you the type of employees that are most likely to appreciate this plan, as well as suggestions on how to implement pay-for-performance, including the advisors that can help you set it up.

Anita says, “When handled properly, a pay-for-performance program can motivate employees,” and that can move your business forward.  Just keep in mind that your team needs to know the rules of engagement and it’s up to management to make that clear upfront and document it.

When it comes to performance, some people just don’t live up to it, and tough decisions have to be made. That brings us to point number three.

3. Fire what doesn’t work; hire what does.

In high school, college and the rest of life we try out for sports, audition for plays, interview for jobs, etc.  We have to qualify for what we want, and the older we get, the higher the standards. We aren’t babies anymore—so we’re also long past being rewarded for being cute and cuddly.  Everyone can’t or won’t perform at the level that your company needs and requires, and you have to do something about it.

In “3 Things to Consider When Hiring and Firing,” John Mariotti gives some well-balanced  advice on firing team members without disrespecting them or breaking their will.  He says, “Firing people is no fun at all—at least it shouldn’t be—but it is necessary.”  John also advises us to “Always remember that it takes two errors to create a failed employee:

  • an employee who doesn’t perform in the job, and
  • the supervisor who put them in a position to fail.”

I try to remember that making the tough decisions can set us up to succeed where others fail.

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Jamillah Warner


Jamillah Warner Jamillah Warner (Ms.J), a poet with a passion for business, is a Georgia-based writer and speaker and the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions. She also provides marketing and communication quick tips in her getCLEAR! MicroNewsletter.

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