Ross Cameron

It’s not just finding good staff that is a headache, it’s dealing with the day-to-day issues.

People skills 101

People can be great – and they can also be the SME’s biggest headache. Here’s what a couple of operators told me:

“For me the most enjoyable part is the people, and the most difficult part is the people. The most difficulty I have is dealing with communication – people’s frustrations and emotions and all of that. It’s not rational, and it takes up a lot of time and it’s emotionally draining. It takes time and it can be quite debilitating for the business if you don’t deal with it quickly.” (Distribution/wholesale, 101-300 employees, 30+ years).

“I read something recently – in the Weekend Australian I think – about how staff are the greatest cause of lack of sleep to Australian business operators. I looked at it and thought ‘they’re right’. And I’ve got really good guys; none of my staff are a problem. They’re all long-term staff. But if you care about the business and the staff, you’re dealing with people and so you’re dealing with emotions and all of that. So the biggest grief is staff. Customers don’t worry me too much … In a big business you have a HR department. You don’t have that in a small business.” (Mechanic, seven full-time employees, eight years in operation)

Finding and retaining the right staff is one of the greatest headaches facing SME operators, especially in an economy like we have right now.

But it’s not just finding them that is the headache, it’s dealing with the day-to-day issues that can be a real problem.

Understanding how to manage staff is a skill that many SME operators are not naturally blessed with … but they haven’t sought the necessary training either. Have you?


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