One of the greatest challenges we have in business today, is dealing with the people who work for us. And, we’re not the only one’s, says Tom Shay of Profits+Plus a business management consulting firm.

Issues with staff, no matter what industry you’re in, have gone on for a very long time, Shay told audience members at the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association meeting last week.

Shay offers the following tips for improving employee management.

What is your vision for your business? The bible says that without a vision, people will perish. This is true for your business too, says Shay. “If you don’t have an idea where you are going, how will you know how to get there?,” he asks. Get support of your management team for your vision.

Let your best employee do the hiring. “If you say to yourself, ‘if only I could clone that one person I’d be in good shape,’ that’s the person you need to have hiring,” says Shay. Often times in business we’re short handed, desperate for good help and as managers or owners we’ll hire a live body to fill a position over waiting to hire the right person.

And, Shay recommends find an employee’s talent and use it. If they do not have one, don’t hire them.

Don’t be afraid to bring in an outside party to interview an employee if you are hiring for a technical position to make sure the candidate knows what they need to know.

Have a written process for what is to be done. Create necessary policies and/or procedures and write them down. Keep to the basics. Written procedures and policies clearly communicate your expectations to the employee.

Require employees to think, act and be responsible. It’s more important to educate someone how to read a map, instead of directions on how to get there, in case there is a road block, explains Shay.

“Too often I see businesses afraid to teach employees things,” says Shay. They are afraid that after educating the employee, he or she would leave and go work for someone else.” There’s only one thing worse than that, says Shay. “Having stupid employees and you get to keep them.”

Focus on the customer of the business. Even though an employee may never see the customer, do they understand who it is they are working for?, asks Shay.

Refuse to take responsibility for everything. Do your employees bring the problems to you? Do you solve the problems with your solutions? “When you allow them to bring a problem to you they will,” explains Shay. “Refuse to take responsibility. What will they do if you aren’t there to make the decision for them?, he asks. “You don’t need to find problems, you need solutions.”

Don’t be afraid to get rid of someone. Do your key personnel need to be changed? See what you can do to improve the quality of employees you have, recommends Shay. “There are wonderful people out there out of work. It amazes me that people aren’t taking advantage of the available hiring pool and make changes in their businesses,” says Shay.

Get advisors from outside the business. Sit down with people outside your business, such as the owner of the local grocery store or feed co-op. Meet for breakfast once a month. Listen to what they say, absorb their thoughts and experiment on your own place, recommends Shay.