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6 costly mistakes you can make when employing people in your business!

1. Employing staff who are not value match or the right fit for the business

  • Values influence business decisions. Values are principles or standards of behaviour; one's judgement of what is important in life.

  • Values can be a benchmark for behaviours we accept and behaviours we don’t.

  • Employing staff quickly because you are in a rush to fill the position is not useful and often may end up in a situation you wish you didn’t have. At the same, advancing someone to a more senior position because you need to make room to bring other’s on is not useful either. As an example, I worked for a government agency and all the time people would be advanced to a more senior position – it seemed like the moving deck chairs on the Titanic.

  • I remember there was one woman who was given a very senior position – she had no people skills, was unapproachable and did not acknowledge staff even when they said hello to her. Well, the only thing that came out of that was a damaged culture and a lot of staff leaving or asking to leave that area. What became evident was that she was not match for that department of the business.

  • Ensure when you are interviewing you discuss the business values and ask questions about how they would inform their decision making.

2. Not orienting your new employees to the core values of the business

  • Core values establish the culture of your organization.

  • Core values are integral to the type and fit of the people you hire, and how employees are empowered and have the knowledge to make decisions.

  • Employees come to understand and replicate the values through their actions and whether the leaders are acting in line with values. If this is not evidenced, the core values become ignored and an ‘I’ll do it my way, and they don’t matter’ culture may become valued.

  • If your employees don’t understand the core values of the business, rather than reaping the benefits of resilience and sustainable growth you may have rigidity and business decline; instead of creativity and innovation you may end up with employees who stagnate and weigh the business down; and there is no doubt there will be a noticeable decline in quality of service and/or product.

  • Developing the core values of any business, is one of the key foundations of success.

3. Not communicating the expectations of being an employee in the business

  • Where rules and agreements are implicit rather than explicit.

  • When employees are not clear about expectations within the business, not only are they likely to model inappropriate behaviours that you do not want replicated, but they set the standards for other to copy.

4. Employing Managers who don’t lead their people

  • The manager does more than manage business operations, they manage people. A good manager provides feedback, connects employees to the larger business vision and mission, manages conflict, and runs the day-to-day delegation of duties.

  • Good managers know that job satisfaction is heavily linked to the relationship a person has with their manager and they foster this.

  • Managers who are in alignment with the business values know how to lead. They focus on bringing others on who are potential managers. I tend to see this as the ‘hit by the bus factor,’ – you really need to know who in the ranks is capable of being a leader, just in case the Manager has to take unexpected leave.

5. Not ensuring there are enough opportunities for growth and advancement

  • As an example, in my experience, hospitality can often be the first jobs straight from high school and university, given students are often sharing their time between earning money and studying. When I worked in Hospitality there were high turnover in staff, and I certainly didn't know that I could advance to Manager in the business.

  • It is a given that for the best part not many choose to remain in the industry throughout their careers, unless they become specialised eg. Chef etc. Many businesses provide minimal training, little skill development, and no clear pathway to full-time status or upward advancement for these employees. If an employee does not feel as if their employer is invested in them, they won’t invest in their employer either.

  • Creating clear performance measures and benchmarks for employees to reach and having standards of excellence for employees to aspire to assists employees to take on board the view that there are opportunities for long term growth within the business.

“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”

Anne Mulcahy

6. Having a Toxic work Environment

  • A toxic work environment is where people really begrudge being, and where there are no standards, poor attitude may be evident or there may be bullying or harassment of one employee to another.

  • Even more important in the toxic work environment is where the leaders do nothing to manage the toxicity, where the concerns and issues are hidden or swept under the rug. This can be a costly mistake for a business. Regular performance reviews and feedback by employees needs to be part of standards of excellence a business has. I call it a standard of excellence because we want to be known as a business that puts our people first.


Witter, J. 2013. The benefits of a value-driven business. CEO of the Boreland Group Inc.

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