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How to Overcome your People Challenges

| Topic:

Business Advice

At one of my company events I had industry consultant Jim Paluch of JP HORIZONS state the following to all my staff before we signed up for his 52 Week Challenge program.

“The People will change or the People will change!”

What he meant by this is the only thing constant is change and therefore people must change their habits, attitudes, prejudices, ways of learning &  ways of doing things or risk being left behind. As we began our journey of implementing our Continuous Improvement initiative in our business, we noticed two things began to happen:

  1. We had resistance from some of our staff
  2. We had acceptance and celebration from some of our staff

The Immediate Result:

  1. Some people moved on to other companies (including some very skilled people!)
  2. Some staff embraced the chance to improve themselves and our company

The Ultimate Result:

  1. Our Company is now better for our efforts and the staff play on a team and not as individuals. The old expression that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts now rings true at our company.

You are only as good as your personal habits!

  • If you are late in your personal life you will be late for work
  • If you are messy in your home you will be messy at work
  • If you are rude and abrupt at home you will be that way at work.
  • If you are sloppy in appearances in your personal life you will be sloppy in appearance at work
  • If you are a smoker and take lots of smoke breaks at home you will take them at work
  • If you are not reading to improve your knowledge at home you will not read to improve your knowledge at work
  • If you are interested ONLY in you paycheck and getting by at home you will be the same at work
  • If you are drinking alcohol at home you will be tired at work, absent and sick.

For our company the best personal staff improvements we achieved after we continuously challenged our people to improve, week after week.

  • Five people quit smoking permanently!
  • Two people moved on from living pay cheque to pay cheque to getting married and buying a home!

People are the KEY ingredient to your work.

As the old adage goes… “When you bake a cake with eggs that have gone bad the cake will not taste good! You may even get sick.” Similarly, if you have people with bad habits you will surely achieve poor results.

Implementing our Continuous Improvement initiative at our business allowed us to educate our staff about a better way of doing business and made it possible for us achieve two very important objectives:

  1. It improved the quality of life for our staff
  2. It made our company more efficient.

People are resistant to change! 

The reality is that in business the companies that do not change or adapt end up extinct. Unfortunately many of us are skeptical by nature – sometimes rightly so – but that attitude prevents us from learning new things or even accepting the possibility of change. One of the best lines I ever learned with regard to people was the following: 

“I give everyone the benefit of the doubt until I doubt the benefit!”


So what lessons can we learn from this?

  1. Recruit and hire well as people serve as the building blocks of your company. I recruit 365 days of the year even when I do not need people. 
  2. Find a method to help your people to improve because believe me everyone can improve and probably needs too.
  3. Learn to be patient with people and recognize that people can change for the better just like the people who quit smoking in my company.
  4. You may need to remove individuals who will not adapt to your NEW AND IMPROVED Company.
  5. Set high standards and serve as a good example for you and your staff to follow. As an owner if you are always late then guess what – your staff will be too!
  6. You and your people need to be elite:
  • on time
  • polite
  • friendly
  • caring
  • attentive
  • hardworking
  • well groomed
  • well dressed or uniformed etc.

Business Restructuring: People

This is probably one of the hardest parts of being a business owner because we are dealing with people’s lively hoods, their personal sense of accomplishment and sometimes incomes that support families. In support of employees in Canada we have Notice of Layoff and Severance legislation as a way to make people changes fair and less difficult financially.

Your business can not improve unless the People Change or the People Change……and by the way that includes you the Business Owner! You too need to look in the mirror and like what you see because your employees are following your leadership example.

In the long run you are doing everyone a favor when an employee who is not performing well or is unhappy is asked to leave your company. A good relationship is based on mutual respect and benefit, and in this case the person leaving will benefit because they will be free to pursue new dreams and opportunities that are more suitable for them.

Waiting for things to get better by themselves only means deferring difficult decisions until later, and we all know you that you will PAY NOW OR PAY MORE LATER. I would suggest consulting a labor lawyer so you have a strategy in play to make any necessary people changes.

In my business I have given myself one year to improve staff either by adding new staff, improving existing staff or deleting staff as necessary. People should be put into two categories Asset or Liability. There is no in between. 

*Note: having to fire staff frequently is usually a sign of poor management / leadership and or poor hiring and training practices. Improvements will not be possible or sustainable unless you fix some of these root causes!

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