Not necessarily, said Amanda Dokter, PHR, Human Resources Manager at Ketel Thorstenson, LLP (KTLLP). Amanda leads Ketel Thorstenson’s HR department. She also works with KTLLP clients who need help with employment advertising, prescreening applicants, employment policies and employee handbooks.
Entrepreneurs, she said, don’t always have the background, training or skillsets to be good managers. “You can be the best people person in the world, but dealing with employees is complicated,” she said. There are generational issues, pay issues, personality conflicts and legal requirements.
She has 5 employee relations tips for small businesses:
1. Have clear policies. An employee handbook, which spells out everything from attendance to paid time off and a code of conduct, is a great tool. Also, make sure you follow your own policies, without exception. This way staff knows what to expect and you don’t leave yourself vulnerable to accusations of discrimination or favoritism.
2. Seek advice from others. One excellent source is the Black Hills Society of Human Resource Management. Members meet regularly and are a great starting point for information and support. Another is the national Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). The SHRM website has an “Ask the Expert” feature that can help you with staff issues. And there are some very good employment attorneys in the Black Hills.
3. Be realistic about your expectations. Not everyone you hire is going to be the perfect employee — willing to stay late, take on new tasks or get along with co-workers. But make it clear what you do expect, and if someone isn’t meeting those expectations, let them know — before it reaches a “critical level”.
4. Don’t be afraid to let someone go. Some people are just not a good fit. If it’s not working out despite your best efforts, don’t beat yourself up. Keeping them on staff just raises everybody’s stress level, including the employee’s.
5. Don’t let your staff push you around. If you have an overwhelming need to be liked, you probably won’t make a good boss. You can be friendly — but not necessarily friends — with your staff. The goal is to earn their respect, not their friendship.
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