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Edition 47 – Stop Managing Personalities

So, it’s time to upset the HR apple cart. Big time!

Over the past month I’ve held a number of meetings with clients whose family businesses are being derailed by the personalities that are inside of them. Notice I said personalities, not people?

In a number of these situations, the matters have become emotional and we are now dealing with “he said – she said” discussions, not with focussing on the business’ real priorities right now. Unfortunately, I can see this slowing progress in a number of businesses. It’s like watching an episode of Home and Away on repeat.

Here’s my advice. Stop managing personalities! These people are resources in your business. They are employed to perform a function, follow instructions and produce a result. The last time I checked, HR actually stood for “Human Resources”, not “Human Personalities”. We’ve been told by the experts that we need to embrace these people, help them feel good about working for you, engage them and invest in all this warm and fuzzy stuff. I disagree. For me, that only encourages people to push their personalities to the front of the line – not their skills.

Every family business owner and manager needs to stop managing personalities and start managing resources. It is only when you start to manage resources that you start to manage results. Its results that generate profitability and value for family businesses. Personalities are for soap operas.

Now, I’m on this hobby horse today for a reason. I’ve been there before. I’ve been through what some of these family businesses are going through right now. And, I can tell you that no matter how much you make the life for your staff inside of your business seemingly better, most of them will never be dramatically happier as a result of what you have done for them in your business. You might get a quick sugar hit of happiness, but ultimately that will drop back to the same levels it was pre-intervention.

I would guess that 90% of the reasons that staff are unhappy or not committed or lazy or whatever it is that you are struggling with in managing these personalities right now is nothing to do with the business and everything to do with stuff that happens after 5pm and before 9am – the rest of their life. Which you have no control over.

Which only they have control over.

If they decide to take up the mantle and assume control. Which is entirely up to them as individuals, not up to you as employers and managers!

It is from that perspective I’m saying to you, stop managing personalities and start managing resources.

If it is your family business, you need to think firstly about your family and not your employees. Your family are there with you through thick and thin. They’re right beside you even when they don’t know the reason why.

Your employees are a resource and you need to manage them that way. If you allow their personalities to take over, you are engaging in the maritime equivalent of stepping away from the bridge of the ship to sort out why the two bartenders in the Deck 5 cocktail bar can’t get on. You’re not focussed on the weather, the sea conditions, other vessels or icebergs!

This Week’s Tip

I don’t watch soap operas. I find them negative windows on society. If you do watch them, keep the personalities there. That way, it is only 30 mins a day you are observing, not 8 hours of bathing in it, 5 days per week.