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People Problems & How to Business Coach Them

A “company” is not
just bricks and mortar.  It’s not just a
name.  It’s not just a product or
service.  The biggest determinate in a
business’ personality (and ultimately, its success or failure) is people.

Why, then, do
business owners allow “people-problems” to go unaddressed?

Before we answer
that, let’s explore some typical people-problems that surround us in our
  Here’s a shortlist: 

  • A salesperson that doesn’t bring in new

  • A person who is frequently late, sick,
    or leaves early.

  • The staff member that likes to bring
    personal drama to work every day.

  • Someone with a poor work ethic.

  • A person who lies, cheats or deceives.

  • The employee that makes a lot of
    mistakes; incompetence.

  • A selfish person that serves him or
    herself first; the team second (or worse).

  • Someone that resists positive change.

  • A person with a bad attitude.

  • The happy employee that is always
    extremely “busy,” but doesn’t accomplish much that’s worthwhile.

  • The once fabulous team member that has
    slipped into mediocrity.

Feel free to take a
minute here to add to this list…it’s endless!
Now ask yourself candidly, “Do we have any of these people-problems at
your company?” It’s likely you do! Now ask yourself, “What am I doing about
it?” If you’re like most business owners, the true answer to that question is
either “not much” or “absolutely nothing;” you’ve just accepted it.

There it is! The
biggest mistake business owners make! If you’re guilty, please stay with me!

Now, we’ll answer
the question, “Why do business owners allow people-problems to go unaddressed?”
How’s this for starters: 

  • No time.

  • No energy.

  • Too busy.

  • The person may quit, besides, nobody’s

  • I don’t like conflict.

  • He/she will only make excuses and be
    offended and it won’t work anyway.

  • I don’t want to make waves.

  • There are a lot of great traits the
    person has; I don’t want to be too critical.

  • I’m loyal to my people for better or for

  • If I ask that person to improve, he/she
    will want me to improve on my weaknesses, too.


The complete list of
answers to why people don’t address people-problems is just as long as the list
of problems people have…it’s endless! 
Now ask yourself, “Why aren’t you
addressing the specific people problems you have at your company?”


If you answered the
questions above candidly, you may be starting to squirm in your seat right now.
You may be tempted to make the conscious decision to stop reading this, stop
thinking about this and bury your head back in the proverbial sand. Here’s a
shortlist of why you shouldn’t do that:

  • It’s costing your company money.

  • It’s killing the morale of the very best
    people on your team.

  • Your customers are either directly or
    indirectly suffering.

  • Your business is not as valuable as it
    could be.

  • You’re losing growth opportunities.

  • You’re personally suffering from stress
    and frustration caused by poor performers.

  • You’re robbing the poor-performer of a
    personal and/or professional growth opportunity.

  • You’re making your own life more
    complicated than it needs to be.


I encourage you to
go ahead and take my next statement personally: 
If you –the business owner- aren’t
addressing the people-problems in your company, then you are a
  Please read that
last sentence again; it’s very important. 
“If you aren’t addressing the people-problems in your company, then YOU
are a people-problem!” 

If my candor has
ticked you off, I’m sorry.  The intention
of my honest feedback isn’t to hurt your feelings; it’s meant to be
constructive.  I want to help you help
yourself, which in turn will allow you to help your own company. 

If you’re still reading,
then you probably see the incredible benefits of addressing
people-problems.  Maybe you’re hoping for
a suggestion to get you into action.  If
so, here it is: 

Schedule a time to
meet with your problem-person.  When the
time comes, start your meeting by telling the person that you’re going to have
an honest, adult conversation with him or her. 
Let that person know that your intention isn’t to hurt his feelings;
it’s meant to be constructive.  You want
to help that person help himself, which in turn will allow him to be more
valuable to your business.  (Sound
familiar?  Go up two paragraphs and read

Then, give it to him
straight!  As unemotionally as you can;
let him know the real deal. Take your time. Be specific. Don’t allow things to
get out of hand; remember the goal isn’t to prove someone guilty, it’s to help
that person see what you see and then to agree on specific actions to start down
the road to improvement.

Don’t allow this
meeting to end until you’re both on the same page relative to:

  • The specific problem(s).

  • The ramifications of those problems on
    that person’s career, your company, your customers, etc.

  • The expectations moving ahead.

  • The precise action steps required of
    that person (and perhaps even of you) to alleviate the problems.

  • A written commitment from each of you to
    follow-through on your specific action steps.

  • An agreed upon date to meet together
    again to check progress.


Sounds like an
employee review, doesn’t it?  That’s
exactly what it is…sort of! 

I’m not talking
about the typical, useless dog and pony shows that many people call
reviews.  I’m talking about a true,
meaningful, constructive conversation that will help everyone -and your
company- become more successful.  Unlike
a generic employee review, this isn’t an “event.”  This is the beginning of a process that will require constant follow-up.

Without follow-up
and follow-through, nothing really changes. 
An annual performance review, even a great one, is transactional in nature; not transformational.  Everyone knows that lasting change only
happens when there’s transformation.

You have to invest
time, effort and energy into this.  I
know that sounds draining, but when you do it right, you’ll see the
results.  When you see the positive
results, you’ll find a renewed energy and happiness.  I promise!

Your people are
either making or breaking your company. 
The rewards from developing your team are just too great to ignore.  The dangers associated with people-problems
can be deadly to your business.  So stop
burying your head in the sand and stop worrying so much.  Instead, just start talking candidly about it
with the people that need the help.

One last offer of
advice:  Do your best to develop your
individual team members, but at some point, you may simply need to cut your
losses.  In other words, if you can’t change your people; change your
  Think about that.

It’s not easy and
it’s going to take time, but you can do it.

This is an excerpt
from Jon Denney’s book Unstuck. You can purchase the entire book at Amazon.com

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