Financial, Legal, Insurance & Management ServicesThe Only Target Is The Way

Have you ever thought of it? Once you have started to set up a business, you will never be finished building up: Each business-phase is a new "start-up" phase. Having grown to the extent that you cannot cope with all the work on your own. You need staff. The current article shows the serious consequences when you begin to hire your first employees.


This is a hypothetic story: >> Given I couln´t manage to do the business on my own any more. I need staff to support me. Easy thing, I say to myself. I have figured out what I want to get done by one or two people.  Quickly I have found two good-willing, well skilled and sympathetic persons. During the next couple of weeks I am occupied to explain the simplest things to them. This is a most time-consuming and enervating pasttime, and besides: the business stops.

Now it dawns on me: I forgot to tailor the shape of the position of each with the bundle of tasks and a time-frame.

Having done this I wonder, how come that there is still no work flow. Every initiative still goes over the bosses desk, this is again me. The two assistants don´t seem to take up any responsibility.

Here I am. I have more work to do than before. I have taken up more orders then before. With my two new assistants I knew, I could handle this. Instead I spend my precious time teaching my staff what to do. Finally I cat see the reason why the two of them got so frustrated. They start to argue with each other. Some kind of a competition between them has begun. This is now totally getting out of order.

I did not realize  that my assistants were not challenged enough. And they became irritated because they had no clearly defined job description for their positions. They only had a vage idea of their duties. This caused bad vibes and in the end they turned against each other.

How rediculous the situation, my customers are desperately waiting for their ordered goods and I have to pay two more salaries to people who seem to be no good. Because they are fighting, they might spoil the good image of my firm this way. <<

Final conclusion in this case: The business stays small and I do not take up any staff at all.  Many small firms decide that way.

I don´t think that this is a real alternative. What happens with your business when you have to stop working for a few days or weeks for health reasons? Or you deserve a holiday? Each time a business-brake means a bad relapse to your business.

The owners of enterprises often have little consideration for new implementations. Each one takes its time. A certain time in advance, before it runs smoothly. These are the 3 steps: preparation, introduction, execution. These three steps will guide you through your business all along.

At this point I remember my new experiences, roughly 30 years back, when I had taken on my first employee. At that time I had opened up an art gallery in Dublin which had become great press coverage within a year. My business was picking up. In the mornings I had different work to do. So I engaged a young lady to work in the gallery. She was English and worked as a part-time assistant. For me it was obvious, that she would also help me to set up the big external exhibitions.

The first exhibition with my assistant was a surprise to me. It still is a miracle to me that we managed to prepare the opening successfully. Plenty of work had to be done before the opening and my assistant was a real help for me. But then, clock-strike, she stopped and put down her work to take her brake. When I asked for the the reason why she had stopped working she muttered something, "...the trade union...". I must say, I was stunned. There was still lots of work waiting. The opening of the exhibition was due only 3 hours later. And my assistant simply had a rest.

Then I realized. Yes, she is English. The idea of the strict regulations for work-brakes in employment-conditions, fought by the trade-union seems to have great impact on her attitude to work. It expressed an aspect of her English culture. Back then as her German boss this was incomprehensible to me. But if I wanted to keep her I had to get along with it. All in all she has been a great assistant to me. And I learned a lesson.

Taking up staff is totally different to buying new stocks of goods or reorganizing the business: Employees are living beings, they are human and they respond.  Employees want to be challenged. They need adequate training and support. A respectful and harmonious working environment will encourage their performance.

A business should also take into account the cultural differences. During my time with BMW I have observed that mutual misunderstandings between the English and the Germans on all levels had been one of the main causes for the failure with ROVER. But culture differences also occur in German companies among different nationalities, even different age groups or life-styles. Mobbing will be one signal.

Still I believe that taking on staff is a good advantage, a plus between competitive partners. This is a real advantage as long as the firm looks after their employeeswell.

Having covered all positions with the right staff prepares the ground for the next big hurdle: The great expansion. A considerable time beforehand make sure you have drawn up a defined description of all the positions within the firm, completed with their tasks.

Further you should establish the tasks into the work flow. By means of communication within a frame for independant decissions and according to the education and skills. A schedule, books and tables as means of controlling.

Creating a work flow is an obvious task. But I hardly found a steady controlling-instance in any of the small companies I know. If firms don´t introduce this order while the business is still small they will have serious problems lateron. It would definitely turn an expanding business into chaos.

As soon as something seems to have gone wrong in the firm you perceive certain signals. From the view of the eyes of the employees this might be an unspoken invitation for fraud. In most of the cases the person concerned believes that he is right. 

For example an employee thinks the boss unfairly preferres one of his colleagues or intentionally neglects him, he will make it to level to itself and takes things from the company or does clandestine business with corporate customers.

An eviction can cause additional problems. A dismissed carries business secrets, the names of customers and more. The firm needs to secure the business. Legal actions could be an additional burden.

Prevented from the outset you can avoid these inconveniences by carefully taking the 3 introductory steps I mentioned above, in advance of each new business phase. This saves you time and trouble.



12.11Roswitha AsjodiBerater in K.u.M.-Firmenindependant


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