This is the 75th of a series of newsletters published on Business Management and Management Skills, and is the start of Chapter 4 on Labor Management. Not all topics discussed will apply to your business, but each section will be beneficial to establish company goals and objectives. By reading and studying these newsletter articles, you’re taking the first step in achieving your goals

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The management, supervision, training, and caretaking of employees are major factors in any business owner’s or manager’s day. In the final analysis, it’s how well you and your employees perform that determines not only your profitability, but your survivability as well. Your employees are the foundation of your business and, with proper guidance, can be responsible for the success of the business. With consideration given to proper training and supervision at the onset, you can develop your staff in such a way that you can continue to operate proficiently, even at times when you’re away from the office for extended periods of time. If your business cannot operate satisfactorily without you for two weeks, you’ve got plenty of work to do.

The test of a good manager is how he or she manages, motivates and relates with employees. How closely your company reaches its objectives depends largely on the efforts and accomplishments of your employees. You should recognize the desire of your employees to improve their position in life and increase their income. The more ambitious employee often has a goal to establish their own business, using the training with you to prepare them. Perhaps that’s how you got your background training to start your business. Although this is often a fear of management, statistics show that most individuals don’t have the ambition, drive and expertise to start their own business.

If you value the services of an employee who shows interest in going off on his/her own, you may want to use their talents within your organization rather than watching them become a competitor. Give them some of the benefits they would derive as an owner by offering such incentives as a share of the profits, health insurance for their family, and bonuses. Show them how they’re better off with increased income, prestige, recognition, community standing and respect without the financial problems and possibility of joining the large majority of new companies that don’t get off the ground. Fear and discomfort of personal failure can make the present comfort and related success look much better.

If one or more of your customers leave with an employee starting out on his/her own, you’re not doing a proper job with your customers. Many businesses in all fields start with an employee moving out with your customers. Keep your customer relationships on a personal basis with yourself. Don’t vent your anger with employees who leave to start their own business. Leave the door open for them to return on a friendly basis. Call them after a reasonable period of time, and let them know they’re still welcome in your organization. Never criticize former employees in front of anyone, particularly your current employees.

Know your employees as the individual human beings that they are. Find out what their goals are. Gain their respect by being fair and equitable to all. Establish a model of behavior by your own actions - it’s called leadership! Let them know that upgrading and promotions will be made from within whenever possible, and keep this promise. Evaluate your employees on a regular schedule, perhaps twice a year, and express appreciation for good results.

A note on moonlighting (for service organizations primarily) - accept it as part of the business because just about every field employee does it. But, control it! Set the ground rules. No moonlighting for your customers. No using your tools and equipment (unless you’re willing to loan them). No using your materials (unless you’re willing to sell them). No using your trucks. Don’t let the employee get away with unapproved use of your facilities. Ask them if they must moonlight to at least not wear their company uniforms. Ask that they build up their own reputations, not borrow from you and their fellow employees who have worked hard to build up too. Let employees know their limits and what cooperation they can expect from you.

The following guidelines will help you establish a good relationship with and promote quality work from your employees:

Don’t assume your employees know what you want. Explain what you want and provide training. Be sure they understand fully the task at the conclusion of training. Then have their supervisor follow-up to confirm that they are correctly applying the training they received.
Set deadlines. Be realistic and maintain contact along the way to be sure that the schedule is being met.
Get an understanding about what will be done if work isn’t satisfactory. You have a right to get the quality of work that you expect and the employee should realize what the consequences will be if this standard is not met.
Treat the people you hire like adults. Treat them with consideration, thoughtfulness and understanding. Greet your employees each day, compliment them for appearance or accomplishment and, most importantly, listen to them when they speak to you.
Pay on time.
Reward good work either with praise, bonus, or increased responsibility, if desired.

Mike Holt’s Comment: I would like to extend a special thank you to L.W. Brittian, a Mechanical & Electrical Instructor in Lott, Texas, for reviewing and editing the various articles in these newsletters. His comments and suggestions have been invaluable in the preparation of my Business Management and Management Skills’ Workbook. This newsletter was extracted from that workbook. Watch for our next newsletter, and as always, we encourage your comments and feedback. Send us your real-life experiences. Please respond to

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