As a business and executive coach, I often see recurring themes among current and potential clients. The number one issue that many businesses are grappling with at the moment is a realisation that they have the wrong team to take the business forward. Too many employees, under-performing employees, employees with bad attitudes. There are a host of reasons why they might not be a good fit for the business, and now the business owner has a problem!
In South Africa, labour laws that stipulate stringent procedures and protocols further exacerbate the situation. Dismissal for poor performance requires extensive investigation, counselling, monitoring, training and documentation to prove that the company’s interventions have yielded no improvement. Because it’s so difficult to dismiss employees, business owners need to be aware of the pitfalls of hiring the wrong team and learn what NOT to do.
So, what have I learned from my engagement with business owners in this situation?
How did they get the wrong team on board?
- Desperation – hiring is done in a rush, or the resources are urgently required, so businesses take whoever they can find to save time and money.
- Overselling – the potential employees oversell their experience, skills and capabilities and they are hired without reference checks or assessments.
- Unskilled interviewers – not all managers have the right interviewing skills to ask the right questions and they simply go on gut feel and first impressions.
- Family and friends – the business owner hires employees as a favour or because he feels sorry for them.
Why does the wrong team hang around?
Dealing with under-performing employees is unpleasant. It therefore stands to reason that it is one of the most avoided tasks of managers and business leaders. These are often the reasons (or excuses) why managers fail to address the issues:
- Fear that it will take time to find and train another person to replace the under-performing employee.
- The under-performing employee is a nice person.
- Avoiding conflict for fear of repercussions by the employee and the rest of the team.
- Optimism that the employee’s performance and attitude will improve eventually.
Why the wrong team needs to be dealt with
Most companies notice they have the wrong team when things go wrong
- Finances suffer due to wastage, lack of sales, increased expenses
- The company culture is problematic
- There is tension in the workplace, and employees are stressed.
- Customers notice the problems and leave
- Top performing employees get tired of covering for under-performing team members.
- Consider what you pay your employees. It is standard practice to expect three times the value from your employees. Therefore, for every R10,000 you pay an employee, you should expect a R30,000 return on investment if they perform optimally. Multiply that by 12 months for the year, and by an average of 2-3 years per employee. This means that for every R10,000 you pay your under-performing employee, you are wasting R1-million! Now, are you ready to pay more attention to the recruitment process?
So now what?
Business leaders who concede they have the wrong team in place have a stressful and time-consuming process ahead of them to rectify their situation. I am helping them by putting in key performance indicators (KPIs), job descriptions, performance standards and targets, training and mentorship programmes, etc. However, this is all time, energy and resources being spent on trying to fix something, instead of spending the time, energy and resources on building and growing the business off a solid foundation.
Make sure you know exactly what type of person you want for your team in terms of skills and personality. Discuss performance indicators upfront and set targets and outcomes that everyone agrees to. Make performance appraisals and discussions a regular feature in the workplace, not only when performance is not up to scratch. Identify areas for growth, provide training and assign mentors to employees who need help.
Prevention is better than cure…
Call us to assist with profiling, assessments, 360 degree feedback and advice on systems and processes to ensure you hire the right team… it might be the best investment you make in your business.