HR Confessions of a Business Owner

preparing for growth Jun 18, 2019

Imagine if there was a Business Owner’s equivalent to ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ where you could meet in a private room and be able to stand up and say openly ‘My name is …… and I have people problems’.  You could then be guided through a 12-step process with a group of similar feeling, downtrodden Business Owners in order to get ‘sober’.

The reality is that you are likely to operate in isolation with a number of conflicting pressures and, as a result, may convince yourself at some point that everyone else gets it right.

And you simply don’t.

Or, alternatively, you draw the conclusion that ‘it is what it is’, plough on regardless and, gradually over time behind the scenes, simply lose the enjoyment of what you set out to do.

You may then find yourself becoming a ‘self-confessed cynic’ about employing staff.

This can be the Real World of HR for the Owners of small businesses when they are officially ‘flying solo’. You get in your plane each morning with just enough daily fuel, a flickering set of uncertain flight instruments and a couple of wonky wheels.

But, you are managing to fly around and ultimately land ok at the end of each day.

What you probably dream of, is having a custom-made jet with your logo on the side, a team of fully qualified co-pilots and cabin crew taking control of the operations for you to then just take you off for your luxury ‘Business Class’ flight all the way to retirement.

Over the years, the business books and seminars you have attended will have been shouting at you the Mohammed Ali mantra of the HR world:  ‘Human Resources are your Greatest asset’.

It has perhaps, become a bit of an irritating cliché for some, and at the same time remains (irritatingly) accurate. But just hearing it or saying it repeatedly, doesn’t necessarily make you feel it and gain the benefit as the Business Owner.

And there’s probably times you find yourself saying to yourself the complete opposite:

‘Human Resources are my biggest problem’.

Do you ever even use the phrase ‘Human Resources’ in your business?  Or does just the name of the ‘function’ itself feel more like some kind of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ experiment you think you are being asked to try out and not quite sure why?

You may also be one of those Business Owners who struggle even wanting to muster a ‘hello, nice to meet you’ smile when you bump into HR providers at network meetings because you haven’t seen their ID badge in time.

You then find yourself quickly flipping through your ‘Polite Excuse Book’ in your mind to try and make a swift and diplomatic exit to the buffet table to avoid any of those potential ‘people’ questions you find uncomfortable to ‘swerve’.

The curled-up sandwiches and that last remaining ‘not quite sure what it is thingy in a bit of pastry’ suddenly feels incredibly appetising as an alternative ……

But, that isn’t to say you are able to ignore the ‘people issues’. To grow your business, you know you will need to employ staff. 

Because growing any business successfully - relies on ‘people’.

So, you have a choice.

Keep flying your plane each day in the same way, with the fog filled flightpath, or to head for some clear sky, a landing pad and look into getting some repairs.

That means allowing someone ‘in’ to see what could be ‘wrong’.  And that’s the rub. No-one, especially Business Owners, wants to be told that they are getting it ‘wrong’. You may be thinking that it could just feel like some awkward ‘Confession Session’ where you await to be given your penance and be left feeling worse than you do already.

So, alternatively, you may choose not to share the full extent of your concerns, perhaps choosing to put a slight ‘shine’ on a few windows instead.

Its probably similar reasoning behind why so many of us only really feel the urge to tidy the inside of our cars when we’re about to take it in for an MOT or service.

Its as if we think when the mechanic sees the sweet wrappers, the burger box and the car park tickets stuffed into the door well they are going to announce  ‘shame on you’ in disgust as they take our keys.

Unfortunately, there are those ‘Legal Hammers’ that are too often held above a Business Owner’s head that can add to the hesitation of bringing in HR support.   Those conversations that manage to scare you into submission, making you absolutely convinced you will be sued by an employee before the week is out if you don’t take on the additional cost in the next 24 hours to ‘sort things’.

So lets just land that plane for a second, whatever shape you think its in, and share some straightforward facts:

  • Telling someone they are ‘getting it wrong’ isn’t helpful. You’re just experiencing the normal and natural ‘life’ of a business owner.
  • No one gets everything right first time.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of those experiences you may have had so far – but possibly only able to see them in a negative way at the moment. Having already had a few bumpy take offs, getting a bit put off your flight path and maybe a wheel falling off occasionally when you have tried to land – is actually what is going to make you successful long term. No training course could provide you with that insight.
  • All business owners will need to try different approaches before they get their own version of ‘right’ for their own business.
  • Building trust is important. Its absolutely right you choose to work with people who will respect your position as the Owner and understand the pressures you are under.
  • Growth remains absolutely possible for you - if it’s the people issues you feel are the barrier.
  • Although you may operate on your own on a daily basis, be assured, the experiences you have as an ‘employer’ are shared by others, whatever the business, whatever the size.

There are no confessions to make.

Just one fundamental question to ask: do I still have the ambition to grow my business?

If the answer to that is yes, gaining the ‘people support’ you may need from a trusted source will give you your first ‘co-pilot’ to help you get there.

Give yourself the ‘Inside Edge on your HR’ – and you can be booking that Business Flight sooner than you think is currently possible.

Contact [email protected] for a Complementary Kickstart Session

P.S:   Curly sandwiches and ‘thingys in pastry’ not included.


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