In this second part, the best way to address taking the surprise out of staffing issues is to have known career paths with defined in writing performance-based salary levels (aka: salary ladders). I say this because it’s the only fair way to do it. Pay is tied to demonstrated objective performance and it is a real blessing to owners and employees alike.

The great thing is it takes you both out of this salary negotiating tug of war. They know how to get their own raise in pay. This system is so good that clients of mine actually use it during the recruiting and hiring process. They do this because they know it sets them apart from their competitors and the “right stuff” people are attracted to companies who think ahead and provide a concrete career path vs. just a job.

Another change in my approach to unwelcome staffing surprises was to become more proactive in my communication. I made a great habit to meet as many staff members as I could each week and spend a few minutes one-to-one, so I could ask them the following Top 3 questions on an ongoing basis:

  1. What’s going right?
  2. What’s going wrong?
  3. What do I need to know right now?

The sheer fact that I bothered to ask them these questions already made them feel like they were important.

And if you take on this great habit and you invest the time to paraphrase what they are saying, or better yet jot down some notes while they’re talking and follow-up, they will begin to love you. I know this to be always true in both at my own company and others I’ve worked for. The reason I say this is because one of the biggest things employees seek from their employers is to have a voice at the company and to know that someone is listening. This doesn’t mean they always get the answer they want. What they are entitled to is one of the following three basic answers:

  1. Yes, we can do that….
  2. Yes, we can do that, but not right now and here’s why….
  3. No, we can’t do that and here’s the reason why….

The three questions “take the temperature,” in which one-to-one time is never intended to be a sit down meeting. It’s done as you walk around or encounter your staff in the field. These meetings should only be five minutes in length. It’s as much about listening and frequency as anything else.

Just so I’m clear, these changes I made didn’t mean I wouldn’t have people leave. What it just meant is I knew it was coming early enough to take action. As a matter of fact, I got so good at this impromptu meeting that I could tell by how they responded with their non-verbal cues, whether they were onboard with us or if they were actively seeking another job or would be doing so in the near future.

Many times I’ll admit there were those members of my staff who I knew were discontent and in some ways I was glad they were going to be leaving. I just used the feedback as a way to give myself extra time to prepare for their imminent departure.

My suggestion to you is learn to use these tools and habits so you can adjust your actions to be proactive and you, too, will take the surprise out of staffing issues! And if you get really proactive, you’ll learn how to overcome these bumps in the road and be ahead of the curve and well on the way to building the right type of team members that makes you excited to come to work every day.



What’s the number one question I get asked?…
“How do I get my phone ringing NOW?
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