Business is great, except for the people
As a young financial reporter, I was sent to interview a very savvy corporate executive. At the end of the meeting, I asked him if he had any advice for a young business writer: He said: “Business is great, except for the people.”
It’s so true. More than 25 years and thousands of interviews later, it turns out that most of the complaints I hear from business owners and managers have to do with people. Demanding clients, deadbeat customers, inflexible partners and annoying employees are always high on the list.
Based on my interviews and experience managing three companies of my own, I believe that negative relationships definitely affect not only your happiness, but hinder your success.
Dealing with toxic people day in and day out is exhausting. So, vow that 2012 be the year you finally distance yourself from the losers in your life. When they are gone, you’ll definitely have more time and space for wonderful new business relationships.
So, if this is the year you’ve vowed to do something about those toxic people, here are some practical strategies:
1. First, identify the problem people. You know who they are, so sit down and create a list. Writing their names down on paper makes it real. It’s the first step toward taking action.
2. Think about the worst-case scenario related to each person. What may happen if you fire the person? Stop ordering supplies from the company? End a bad partnership? It’s probably not as bad as you think.
3. If you are about to terminate an employee, consult with a labor lawyer who knows your state laws. There are very specific steps you must take to ensure a lawful termination.
4. Start looking for new vendors and suppliers before you need to make the change. You don’t want to disrupt your supply chain.
5. Start asking around for great potential employees. There are wonderfully talented people looking for work – millions of them.
If the problem person is an employee, it will be tough, but you need to take steps to terminate them. Remember, there are no bad people – just bad fits. I really believe that no one chooses to be miserable at work. Sometimes people take a job just because they need one, and then they get stuck. Sometimes it’s just poor chemistry between you and the employee.
If the problem employee has strong skills you need, try reassigning the person to a new position or a new team. That may solve the problem. But you can’t afford to pay people who aggravate you.
If you have just a few employees, every one of them has to be firing on all cylinders.
If the problem person is a partner or investor, that’s trickier. A friend’s husband has been struggling with a partner who refuses to take any risks. That’s tough when you are running a software startup and need to take risks. The partner comes from the consulting world, where he was paid very well to make recommendations. He just can’t make any decisions that impact his personal income. Until these partners break up, the company will never flourish.
Sometimes it’s best to admit things are not working, divide the assets and move on.
No matter what kind of people problems are dragging down your morale, please take action. You will be happy you did.