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If you’ve ever been caught off guard by employee demands? You need to get your act together

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Just yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with a client. He runs a small business and told me he was troubled when one of his staff members came asking for a significant pay raise. He is already paid well above industry’s standards, and really at the higher end of what he can be paid.

What is the business owner’s problem?

He hasn’t systemized the position in his organisation. There are no instructions or procedures that would allow anyone else to take over that job. Consequently, the current incumbent feels indispensable.

At the moment, it’s still amicable. Yet, the business owner feels he’s being held over a barrel. He feels he’s got few options but to pay more because he can’t afford to lose the person. Sound familiar?

Well, the big news is this, it’s nobody’s fault but yours. No one, including yourself should be irreplaceable in your business. When you run your business in a way that people just go about doing their work and keep all their knowledge in their head, you are always going to be a victim.

The answer to this lies in establishing good systems and processes. Consider the following:

1. Create a back-up plan for every position. Create systems to identify people who can take over other jobs when another employee leaves – at least temporarily until a replacement is hired.

2. Keep your training manuals ready. Your up-to-date training manuals become the core of your training programs. Step-by-step instructions should help anybody understand and follow the job requirements and avoid the need for you – or anybody else – to sit alongside an employee and walk him or her through the job.

3. Set standards. By laying down processes, you can also set down standards. That way you don’t need to constantly engage in those annoying questions about how well something was done or not. It’s all out there in black and white.

4. It’s easier to make continuous improvements. When you have established processes and systems, it’s also a lot easier to review them periodically and make continuous improvements.

5. Get moving. Finally, get moving on the things to do. Write a long list of all the tasks that gets done on a regular basis in your organisation. This is your starting point to create a manual for all your procedures.

Steve Smit is a Business Coach with Reality Consulting. He works with business owners who want to increase their take home profits and work shorter hours. Write to him here.

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