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Do You Need To Be Wary Of Your Own Employees?

Jun 12, 2008
During the course of my career as a small business owner I've become a bit of an expert on the hiring and firing of employees. But especially when it comes to firing. I've long ago lost count on the number of people I've fired but I can tell you that I've personally had to pink slip well over a hundred people. Like I said I've long ago lost count.

I've always tried to take care of those that have come to work for me. I've always believed in doing my best for those that give me their best. And as many small business owners know your employees can become a sort of extended family for you. I've made some very good friends over the years and enjoyed knowing a great many people. But I've also learned some valuable lessons along the way.

One thing I've learned and constantly preach is understanding the business you're in. This can be especially important when it comes to hiring people. You need to understand the type of people your business will attract. If your company designs software then you obviously are going to attract a better educated worker than say if you run a fast food restaurant. Some businesses tend to attract younger people and some older. So you need to understand the quality of worker you can expect will show up at your door looking for a job. Of course pay and benefits have a lot to do with it but so does your working environment. I've had quite a few people interview for a job with me that just didn't understand the kind of job they were applying for. Every business has a sort of atmosphere it develops and many industries have a built in image that you alone will never be able to change.

The problem with a business is eventually you do have to hire somebody. Otherwise that business will never be able to grow and really prosper. You can't do it all even though you wish you could. But as I already mentioned the type of business you own will be a big factor in the pool of candidates available to you.

For myself this was especially true it seems and unfortunately for me not in a good way. This to me would help explain why I fired so many of them. I also have contributed to the problem. I happen to want to see people succeed and have been known to give many a second chance if I thought a person seemed worth the effort. I have on occasion been burned but not every time. As I said I like to see people succeed and I've always believed in rewarding their efforts when they helped the business.

It's often been said that one very good way to get great productivity out of someone was to make them take ownership of what they do. When the business does well they should do well also, not just the owner. I've always believed in that policy. The problem is too many people want to take advantage of it and you. And the bigger a business gets the more they think they can get away with.

I've helped out more people than I can remember especially ones that have managed to get themselves into financial trouble. I've helped employees find places to stay, pay their rent, move their furniture and so on. To me they were apart of the family and if I could help I did.

For all I've done I've barely even gotten a thank you. More often I've had those same employees cuss me out behind my back and try to take advantage of me and my business. I've unfortunately had to fire people for a lot of offenses. You of course have the usual show up late or not at all types. They're easy to deal with.

I've had employees go much farther with the trouble they caused me. I once had a office assistant steal a check and try to cash it for $5000. I had one employee that had been issued a gas card use it to buy gas and then he sold the gas to some friends. I once found a pot plant growing out of one of our bathroom sinks. I've had employees steal tools. And for me the biggest offense of all is when they stop doing their jobs. This applies to the salesmen I've had in the past. They go out day after day and bring in less than I'm paying them. I know salesmen can have bad weeks or months but it's the customers that usually let me know when they hadn't seen they're rep and can't get ahold of them.

The point I'm getting at is that as a business grows larger and more people are needed to keep it going, you have to be aware that while you may have your employees best interests in mind they might not have yours but they most certainly have their own best interests in mind also. And because you are only one person you can't watch them all forever.

But take heart, there are others out there that might one day come to work for you. And they will realize that if they also take care of your business as if it was their own it and you will take care of them. I managed to find a couple along the way and I expect you can find some of those people too.
About the Author
Cash Miller is an experienced entrepreneur and speaker who has spent over a decade as a small business owner. His years of experience in small business cover many topics. For more information visit Small Business Resources or go to http://www.SmallBusinessDelivered.com
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