Sifting Out the Bad-Apple: Keeping Your Small Business Happy and Harmonious

Last week’s statistics helped illustrate how much impact just a small percentage of employees can have on the whole business. As promised, this week we focus on preventing a bad-apple from breaching your workplace.  We will also mention strategies on how to resolve the matter if you realize they’re already there.

  • Talk to fellow employees regularly (culture meetings). For sure, some people’s personalities might just clash. But at the same time, if you make a point to speak with fellow employees and associates about your company culture (some companies even have regular “culture meetings” just to chat with each employee one on one), and the same concerns about certain individuals keep popping up, chances are there is a problem. Staying on top of this, making your office accessible and truly taking the time to listen to your office is extremely important.
  • Encourage customer feedback. If you are in a service industry, customer feedback can be incredibly valuable. Find out from customers what goes on even when you aren’t there. While some social media platforms are just for complainers, other people read and take these complaints to heart. If there are repetitive complaints against a single employee’s behavior, this might be a big clue that you need to handle the situation.
  • Hire carefully. It’s expensive to take time to interview people, hire them, and train them to perform a task. Do so with discretion, or go through a professional company to find candidates. But more importantly, choose your employees and potential employees carefully. Maybe they look great on paper, but they simply do not mesh with the current company culture you have. Take the time to sift; just because you need a body doesn’t mean you should settle for less, as doing so may cause far more problems in the future than not.
  • Document everything. Any time there is an incident, either reported to you by another employee (or three), or a negative review describing bad behavior, or even if you witness something yourself, document it. Include the date and time and summary of the incident. Keep track of these in a file, bring them to the attention of the employee, and additionally document when you spoke to them about said issue. This way, if the issue arises again, you have a reference of when you last spoke to them about this issue. Many small business owners have a “three strikes” rule, but however you wish to handle it, documenting is your best friend for clarity and conciseness if you do need to let someone go.
  • Stay professional. Don’t bad-mouth the employee in front of other employees. This does a lot of damage to your small business culture, and will either make other employees uncomfortable, or make them feel that it is okay to do the same.
  • Be the boss when you need to be. That is, if someone needs to be fired, put on your business owner pants and just do it. Don’t make excuses, don’t make someone else do it, and do it with as much professionalism as possible. Make it straight to the point (with your solid documenting to back you up!), and get ‘er done. Staying professional will hopefully help the bad-apple employee do the same as they make their exit.

Creating a solid company culture is one of the most difficult things a small business owner may face. The smaller a business, the higher impact each individual has on the functionality of a company. Take the time to find good employees, retain the ones you have, and avoid the bad-apple candidates as much as possible; they’ll only slow down your growth, happiness, and productivity!

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