(Editor's note: We're always so grateful to have Michelle Loretta of Sage Wedding Pros share her extensive experience and knowledge with our readers, and today's guest post is no exception! Read more about Michelle at the end of the post!)
So often we hire employees when we are at our breaking point. We have so much work that we can’t produce single-handedly and need some relief. It takes discipline, courage, and restraint to start delegating responsibilities to a new individual. After all – this company is YOUR BABY. You’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into it.
Given all of the charged emotion that goes into building a team, it’s not unusual to have some incredibly high expectations of that person. Do any of the following statements ring a bell?
“I just want to be able to hand things over and for them to be able to pick it up. I need someone who just ‘gets it’.”
“I just don’t know why they rush to go home every day when there is still work to do.”
“I wish they showed the same level of commitment than I do.”
“I just want to find that superstar. You know that girl Jane that works for Amazing Events. She does everything for Sally. I need to find someone like Jane.”
“I put all my time into training people and then they leave and go start their own thing.” (This one is particularly painful in our industry.)
Our expectations are too high.
I’m so sorry to say this: We need to lower our expectations.
First, we (as an industry) generally aren’t paying well enough to have these expectations. If we were able to pay as much as leading corporations, we’d be able to bring in the best and the brightest and keep them for years upon end. (Which, these days, amounts to 3 years.) We’d be ale to hire that person that is amazing at math and can do our accounting during the week while seamlessly orchestrate a floral installation on the weekends. They’d come in and change our business overnight.
But – let’s be real. We can’t afford that neurosurgeon with a PHD in rocket physics, an MBA, and a JD who also knows how to put together 30 centerpiece floral designs.
Work with the limitations. It can still work!
We’ll have much greatest success if we know these limitations going into the employer-employee relationship and work with them:
1. No one is going to work for you forever. Build strong systems to help cushion the blow of employee turnover. Hire more people who work fewer hours each so that the business isn’t crippled when your one full-time staff person leaves.
2. The ‘job’ is not motivation enough. People are motivated by different things: money, rewards, perks, fun. Find out why your employees wake up in the morning. (It’ll be different for each person.) And, find ways to bring that to the workplace.
3. Everyone has a set of strengths and weaknesses. SORRY, no one is good at everything. The shy person who is an incredibly creative designer (but horrible at answering the phone) should be left to create. The entrepreneurial person (who wants to start their own business) should be given decision-making responsibilities and leadership tasks. The chatty Cathy (who is always distracting your designers) should be sent to networking events and put into client consultations. WORK with people’s strengths; move away from the weaknesses. You’ll see your company flourish.
4.No one knows your company’s systems (except you). Taking time to train and educate your team will pay off in spades. The challenge is that it’s so time-consuming. Schedule daily trainings to get new people in place. Once on board, you’ll want to continue with weekly training (which can be in the form of team/staff meetings). Having systems documented will give you (and them) accountability and quality control.
If you go in knowing that everyone has limitations, you’ll be far more successful in leading your team. What do you think? What are your tips for working with the limitations of your staff?
Michelle Loretta is a consultant for wedding and event professionals and writes the Sage Wedding Pros’ business blog. She blends her past as an accountant for Deloitte, a sales and marketing manager for DDLA, a merchandiser for Coach, and a stationery entrepreneur to help entrepreneurs better their businesses. This winter, join her at The People Plan workshop to learn how to successfully hire and lead a team of superstars.