Employees—Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them


This is one of the most heated and debated topics in the fields of business and management.  It almost single-handedly determines the prosperity of a business, but also creates the most trouble.

It’s such a touchy subject that we hesitate to even write the article.  Invariably someone will be offended.  There is almost no way to write about the relationship of employees in managing a business without upsetting someone.  This is because it’s a subject that’s fraught with emotions and failures.  Who hasn’t experienced it?  Everyone who’s ever had anything to do with business at all has seen the “mean boss” or the “no-good employees.”  In fact, this one problem of small businesses across the country, taken to the macrocosm of American history IS the classic battle between management and labor; “the bosses” and “the woikers” (workers); the unions and the coal companies.

The subject of employer-employee relations is one of the most volatile subjects in the history of this planet.  Taken to epic proportions, it evokes images of everything from the 1917 Revolution when the USSR was born, to slaves being whipped into building the pyramids of Egypt.  People get quite touchy about the subject.  Whole political parties are built around it.  Entire philosophies of life can be constructed around this one subject: how do you deal with the idea of getting people to get some work done?  Failures to handle this area correctly has led to raw, red revolution and rioters in the streets.

And yet, if some manager somewhere doesn’t do something about it, everyone starves.  No one makes any money.  No one eats.  Extreme examples of this are third-world countries where no industrial infrastructure has ever been built and so the people simply aren’t utilized.  They sit around as subsistence farmers, eking out a living the best they can with no electricity, no running water and no chance at a job.  In other words, without SOMEONE running SOME kind of business, there simply is no industry.  No one works; no one eats.  This is called starvation and poverty.

It’s sort of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type of situation.  If there are no jobs, then no one eats and the whole culture suffers.  However, if employees are handled wrongly, it all blows up in your face and can make the company nearly impossible to run.

Bringing this down to the level of reality and practicality in YOUR business, it’s like this: if one doesn’t have employees, then one can’t run a business.  Period.  If there aren’t good, dependable and trustworthy people, then you won’t produce anything.

On the flip side, the moment you have any employees you now have to deal with OSHA regulations, benefits, extra taxes, etc., ad nauseum.   You’ll have to answer questions, handle upsets and sort out confusions.  You’ll have to keep discipline in, ride herd on inter-office warfare and keep certain factions separated.  Part diplomat, part counselor, part teacher and part supervisor—the manager of any business is in for quite a ride.  Let’s assume that he also has his own duties that no one else can do…like treating patients.  When does he have time to, oh…see the family?

Probably he doesn’t even want to get into it.  The amount of work required just to keep the place going makes dealing with employees an insurmountable task.  The solution becomes keep your head down and walk quickly past them.  Just hope that no one notices you and brings up some problem.  Don’t look over in that direction.  Maybe you can make it through the day, get everything done and not even have to open up that can of worms.

This is called running your business at “effect.”  This means that the owner is so far backlogged and behind that he is unable to proactively deal with issues, and so really isn’t managing the company.  He is handling whatever pops up, but mostly is simply hoping that nothing DOES pop up.  This necessitates, by the very nature of it, avoiding confronting what issues might be lurking there.  It requires that the owner sort of skirt right over everything, hoping desperately that nothing gets brought up he’ll have to sort out.

And this is the exact sort of thing that keeps a business small.  Every single area that the business owner isn’t looking at, every single part of the business that the owner sort of swiftly walks by, while averting his gaze …these are all the weak spots and problem issues in the business.  These are the areas that hold the business back.  It’s in these areas you find embezzlement, you find duties undone, you find hidden attacks on the owners, company protocols violated and a million million other things.

If the business owner really were confronting what was holding his business back, wouldn’t it be handled?  If he really knew what was wrong, wouldn’t it be solved?  He would solve it!

All the undone, unhandled and un-dealt-with issues are the ones that prevent more clients from being seen, they hold production down and they create the sudden confusions that “unexpectedly” pop up, requiring the owner to handle them—all the stressful points of a business.   So who is running whom?  Is the owner running the office or the office running the owner?  That’s why it’s called being the “effect” of your own business.

What’s the solution for this sort of thing?

Well, it requires proactively running the business.  It requires dealing with employee issues and confusions before they develop into large business-affecting issues.  It requires that the owner have enough free time and energy so that he can get HIS work done and have enough left over to actually inspect his business.  It requires that he be able to get around to the office and talk to the employees off of production time.  It requires that he be able to look at the issues and really dig in.  It requires that he not just gloss over an issue, actually bring it into the sunlight and assess what the problem really is.  Only then can he find a real solution for it.

That last is extremely important.  The only way that one will ever find a real solution to a problem is if he brings it out into the open and looks at what it really is with no bias or blindness.  It requires talking to the person and finding out what’s REALLY going on.  Then, and only then, can the problems in an office actually be solved.

But how does one go about doing this?  It’s all very good to talk about it, but everyone talks about it.  If it’s all just a bunch of hot-air psychobabble, how does it relate to the real world?  If you’re just told to “proactively run your business” that’s great, but it doesn’t mean anything.  It doesn’t open the door to any kind of handling or meaningful course of action.

We have to go a bit deeper.

Why does an owner fail to “proactively run their business”?  Why does a person avoid those problems in their business?  Why do they skirt around issues rather than confronting them?  If we tell a person not to do those things, that’s all well and good, but there’s an underlying reason.  We can tell them to stop doing that all day long and they just treat it like it’s a New Year’s resolution: “Ok, I realize I need to confront the things in my business I’m not confronting and deal with them rather than avoiding them.”  Ha!  It’s almost a joke.

So why does a person avoid confronting certain issues in their business?

The reason is that they don’t know how to handle them.

Mark that well: the reason a person avoids looking at and confronting the problem spots and employee issues is just that they don’t know how to handle them.  They don’t really know what to do!

How does one handle the critical employee?   What about the perennially confused front-desk person?  How about the associate doctor who just marches to the beat of a different drummer?  Two different employees fighting?  Someone who is having personal issues and bringing them to work?  These lead to protocols not followed, clients not properly serviced, tasks forgotten or botched and many other problems.

The owner, not knowing how to deal with these issues, just doesn’t LOOK.  It’s easier.  It’s more comfortable.  He just walks by the person.  Knowing there might be something wrong, but not having a clue what to do if he found out what it is, he simply doesn’t ask.  He hopes they don’t bring it up.

The solution to employee troubles is to teach the executives how to handle employees.  One has to be expert in training, organizing, interpersonal relations and the laws of communication.  One simply can’t expect to run a business without being trained in management.

It’s like this: would a dentist avoid dealing with issues related to a patient’s oral hygiene?  Would the veterinarian avoid looking for the cause of a pet’s very obvious pain?   NO!  Why?  Because they’re trained in it!  They want to find out what’s going on.  They actually dig in and look for the root causes of trouble, because they know what to do with it when they find it.

If you actually know how to handle employee-related problems, not only are you eager to dig in and find out what issues you have in your office, you can actually SOLVE them.  You can get results.  You can change the fate of your company and your future.

Get trained in management.  Get a consultant.  Learn how to deal with employees.  Implement a training system so that people know their jobs.  Create a company organizational structure.  Set up inter-office communication channels.  Get your long-term planning straight.  Work out the direction of your business.  Find out how to judge good employees from bad.  DO something about it.

Hanses Management can help you.  With over 20 years of experience all across the United States and Canada, we assure you that your problems aren’t mysterious.  They aren’t unusual.  They are what everyone runs into.  It is actually easy to handle.  It just takes a belief that things can run more smoothly, an understanding that there are right ways and wrong ways to manage and a willingness to stick with it long enough to learn how.  You stuck with it all the way through undergrad school, all the way through your professional schooling…you invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and now you have a business.

Learn how to run it.

Call us today for a free consultation and let us see how we can help you.  We treat each person as an individual situation and are interested in yours.  There is no obligation.  Write us and let us know what you’re running into.  We’ll give you an honest assessment of the situation.


Mark Hanses

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