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Would Your Small Business Agree? Human Resources Would Be So Much Easier Without Humans

by Jill Foster on May 12, 2009

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Guest contributor Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, speaker, and executive with expertise in human capital. Launching a new Women Grow Business series on human resources for small business, Patricia is founder of Strategies for Human Resources. She helps small to mid-size organizations achieve their goals through more effective human capital strategy and management. And she can be reached through her website SHRinsight.com, where archives for her ongoing management series can be found.

With this post’s headline, I can hear all of you who are managing people or have ever had to do so startled that any ‘HR person’ would say this.

But many of the mistakes and difficulties that bedevil businesses are related to people issues. And this new Women Grow Business series will try to help you avoid the more common errors and define your own needs or issues so you can solve problems.

I cannot tell you I have ‘seen them all’ but…
I have seen far too many errors, like the CEOs who:

  • needed to be liked by everyone
  • tried to fire family and friends in a ‘must treat everyone the same’ business manner
  • was so idealistic about working mothers’ needs, it almost cost her the company
  • wanted detailed rules but did not want to live by them themselves

Good people all. But their impact created significant difficulties for the companies they founded.

When you start a business, whether as a solopreneur or with the intent to build a company, you are most likely to focus on your vision, finances, business form and registration, finding your market, and such. As you grow and think of adding staff (the topic for my next article here), you may check legal and tax issues.

But the common mistakes people make at this point are more likely to be in how you see yourself and what you have brought from past experience.

Your business philosophy, values, and size
Many times entrepreneurs bring the practices of their past employer and try to just use them to run their business without really thinking about whether such practices fit in with their philosophy, values, and size. I have worked with a number of small businesses that set up a huge performance appraisal process that was ineffective, and way too time consuming – but was familiar to the founder.

Other entrepreneurs are motivated by their bad experiences and vow never to be ‘inhumane’ like that. And suddenly everyone has a great title and lots of respect but conflicts are avoided and performance expectations are unclear and work is not getting done.

These issues and many interpersonal ones are what keep me in business. But you can use a bit of common sense and a little information to ensure you do not have to hire someone like me for these purposes – and can reserve hiring us to help you meet strategic business goals instead.

How do you do that?

  • First, it helps to understand your own view of management and your style and to have informal advisers who can help you think through what you want to do and its consequences.
  • Second, while you need to understand and comply with basic federal and state laws, you need to pay even more attention to your goals and effectiveness.
    The SBA provides a lot of online training and local seminars to assist you. SCORE can provide advisors and assistance. Local SBDCs (Small Business Development Centers) often have courses and groups as well as specialized support. Community colleges and universities offer management courses – online and in classrooms.

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Born at an early age, Patricia Frame has served in the USAF, admits to holding a Wharton MBA, and has managed HR functions at General Electric plus a number of smaller companies (and she actually enjoys chaotic situations).

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