In an ideal world, we’d never have to worry about firefighting people issues within our businesses. We’d have perfectly crafted policies, highly skilled managers, and an engaged workforce with individuals who are passionate about helping our operations to reach their full potential.
Of course though, things don’t always quite work out this way…. Pretty much every business owner has experienced some tricky HR issues during their career, and most would agree that they can sometimes come out of nowhere.
Now’s not the time to point the finger though. If you’ve found yourself with a complex and confusing people issue that you have to deal with, then right now, you need to be focused on finding the solution. So here, in this post, we’re going to explain more about the steps you can take to get yourself out of your HR pickle.
Use the law as your first port of call
Employment legislation exists for a reason. It’s there to protect workers and ensure that standards are upheld. It can be confusing to navigate at times, but it’s important to recognise that ultimately, it can help you. If you’re handling an HR problem and you’re not sure what to do, the first thing that you should consider is your legal responsibilities. Suppose, just for example, that your staff come to you and tell you that they feel that they need a pay rise. As long as you’re paying your workers the minimum wage, you aren’t obliged to reconsider your benefits package. Though obviously, this doesn’t mean that you should just brush the comments under the table. Star employers however, move swiftly past compliance, and consider the bigger picture and the future of their business.
Bring in the experts
Sometimes, knowing the law isn’t enough to cut it. If you’re dealing with a particularly sensitive or complex issue, you might need a little extra help. It’s vital that concerns over your people are dealt with in a timely manner, and that you get it right first time, so working with an experienced professional could give you that extra peace of mind that you really need. HR consultants deal with people issues every single day, interpreting the law and applying it in a pragmatic way. Sometimes things are black and white. But not always, so best speak to someone who’s
Don’t repeat the same mistakes again
So you’ve handled your HR issue, and you’ve come out the other side breathing a sigh of relief. Well done. You’re probably eager to carry on with business as usual, but now’s actually a great time to take a step back and assess your current position and opportunities. What lessons have you learned? How can you prevent the same thing from happening again? In many cases, if you’ve decided to work with an HR consultant, then you’ll be left with a detailed action plan so you can raise your game and become a better employer.
Of course though, you should never forget that ultimately, it comes down to you. Are you serious about nurturing your staff in the best way possible? Being a good leader isn’t necessarily about avoiding people problems altogether. Issues are sometimes inevitable, and come hand in hand with running a business. What really matters is your ability to handle the situation in a way which best serves your workforce and your organisation.
So how will you manage things differently in the future?
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Photo Credit: Kenny Louie – Ahhh
At some point, your growing business will require you to do some restructuring and introduce one or more levels of management. This will open up a great opportunity for you to develop a small proportion of your people into team leaders or managers – perhaps even into managers of managers. Recruiting new managers from within is a powerful way to show your commitment to career development, it’s motivating for your staff, and it’s an opportunity to think about the kind of culture you want to encourage by appointing managers who exhibit the right behaviours and mindsets. Recruiting internally also reduces the risk of appointing someone who isn’t the right cultural ‘fit’ for your organisation. But it’s still a risk – assuming you’re looking at people whose management capability is as yet untested.
So what qualities to look for? Somebody who reminds you of yourself? Undeniably tempting, but fraught with obvious risks.. Someone who is super-smart and knows your product, or market, like the back of their hand? Perhaps, but good managers need other skills too, right?
Right. But what skills – what exactly should you be looking for when spotting leadership potential and thinking about moving people into their first management positions? What is ‘leadership potential’ anyway? To save you wading through a load of leadership tomes, here are our top 5 qualities to look for:
This is a good place to start. In order for your business to succeed, your people need to perform. This means everyone understands what they are there to do and they’re focused on doing as good a job as they can, with your best performers keen to achieve ever higher levels of performance. While recognising that not everyone in your organisation will take this to extremes, an overly relaxed approach to performance standards and deadlines hardly sets the right example. So when thinking about who to promote into a management role, look for people who are really driven to deliver results and move the business forwards. By this I mean they can point to a strong track record of delivery, rather than simply talk a good game. Strong results orientation obviously should be tempered by..
The Ability To Get The Best Out Of Others
The very best managers are skilled in getting the best from their colleagues: they support their peers, inspire their teams, develop their people and regularly give feedback to people on how they are doing. They are ready to praise and give credit for others’ great performance. These are the people who show a genuine interest in others, work hard to create a sense of team, and motivate people through their enthusiasm and positive outlook. They are also the people who can..
High potential employees instinctively think about keeping others informed, like to build their networks, and recognise the importance of communication channels. They are skilled in adapting their personal style to the needs of their audience, listen well, and at the same time are prepared to communicate difficult messages constructively and sensitively.
While you can spot skills in communication and getting the best out of others in those with little or no previous management experience, this is obviously a multi-faceted human quality and few of us tick every box! It’s not the easiest quality to master if it doesn’t come naturally but honest feedback and coaching will go a long way in helping people with leadership potential understand their strengths and take action on any weaknesses in these broad areas of interpersonal and leadership skills. Another intrinsic personal quality for you to consider is..
The Ability To Put The Interests Of The Business Before The Interests Of Themselves
Managers must have integrity. Do your employees base their decisions and actions on what will most benefit themselves personally, or what will benefit the wider team and the business as a whole? Integrity, values and commitment to the success of the business matter: you need people you can rely on, and your employees need to see the ‘right’ qualities being role modelled and rewarded. It can be highly demotivating for staff to see a colleague motivated mainly by self interest promoted to a position of responsibility. Look for people prepared to support colleagues, collaborate and compromise for the greater good of the business. Finally, try to identify people who are…
Committed To Their Own Learning And Development
According to Morgan McCall, one of the most influential thinkers on leadership development (check out his book High Flyers) learning underpins personal growth. It is, many leadership theorists believe, essential to career success, and particularly important is the ability to learn from experience. So try to identify people who have shown they can do this, and apply their learning to future new situations, building their professional capability as a result. Look for people who have the confidence and ability to step into unfamiliar situations, who can quickly identify what information they need in order to perform well – and how to find it. These are also the people who have the confidence to take calculated risks, yet are humble enough to ask for advice and listen to feedback. They are the people who reflect on both successes and failures and learn from them.
Fundamental to this area of learning capability is the ability to recognise what skills they will no longer need to perform well as a manager. Too often employees are promoted to team leader positions on the basis of their past stellar performance as a team member – without understanding that many of the skills that led to their previous success and promotion are, if not obsolete, then certainly far less important to their future success as a new line manager. It will be the key management skills of business awareness, strategic thinking, resource planning, objective setting, giving feedback and coaching and so on which will determine their success in their new roles as managers. Ram Charan’s The Leadership Pipeline is brilliant and goes into all this in far more detail.
Promoting people into their first line management role is a critical decision – not only for your newly promoted managers, but for the teams underneath them and your business as a whole. Get it right and you will start to build a capable and inspiring management team committed to growing both your business and its people.
P.s – If you’re secretly wanting to give your own leadership style a bit of a kickstart and want to take some action on it, then download our new eBook: Leadership 101: The Ultimate Guide to Being an Inspirational Leader.
Photo Credit: Francesco Gallarotti