It’s like herding cats. When you’re a small business owner, too much of your time can be spent ironing out what may seem like trivial employee googleygunk. Everyone needs to work together. Everyone needs to stay on task. People have different personalities- some of which don’t mesh. Adults don’t always act like adults. I don’t think many people realize the weight the human element puts on managers and owners.

We know it can be frustrating. Why can’t everyone just get along… and work? Unfortunately, when you keep a team of people together for 8-9 hours a day, you’re going to run into some issues. It isn’t inevitable, but neither is it surprising. Your ability, and your HR department’s ability, to resolve or prevent these problems is constantly tested, and you may not have the time, energy, or experience to head off all the little unforeseen.

So, let’s look at some things you can do to make your life easier- the details that help us help our clients to avoid issues as much as possible.

You are the problem and the solution.

First, let’s focus on managers & supervisors; how you represent yourself can help to determine the level of respect you receive work.

Follow your own dress code

You’re not Zuckerberg, and there are reasons for implementing a dress code beyond being a fan of Mad Men. A dress code communicates a standard to your employees and co-workers of the level of professionalism they’re expected to adhere to.

If you show up in flip-flops with an “I can wear whatever I want.” attitude, not only are you violating your own standards, you’re telling your employees something about themselves and how you see them.

Show up on time

If you roll in late every day, shades on, Starbucks in hand, how can you expect your employees to arrive promptly? At that point, holding your employee accountable for their tardiness destroys any credibility you might have had.

Keep it to yourself

Everyone knows someone who says they “tell it like it is”. Typically, no one wants to work for that person. Not only are they usually not “telling it” about something that’s relevant to work, but it’s also usually pretty inappropriate for a work environment.

I’m not going to tell you how to view others. However, if you have opinions based on people of various genders, age groups or people of disparate races and religions, keep it to yourself. This advice comes from years in the HR wasteland. There are many wrongful termination lawsuits that are won based on off-handed remarks overheard by employees.

Every group on this list is a protected class. So much of the training we put employees through boils down to “you shouldn’t have said that, here’s why, sign this paper that says you understand”. Don’t be the problem.

Enjoy Responsibly

Just mentioning company events is difficult, because you could write entire blog posts on this alone. However, as I said, there are a few small considerations some new employees may not make.

  • Family Matters

If you’re going to have alcohol at your party (and that’s a big “IF”), invite your employees to bring their families so there are plenty of other things to focus on. Offer a variety of interesting, non-alcoholic beverages, to remove the emphasis from alcohol. Any common drink can be made kid-friendly, so make sure that’s on the list, too! A family-friendly event is a company friendly event.

  • Don’t be boring

More often than not, no one looks forward to these outings because they’re more of an obligation than a break. Which is a shame, because company outings can be super fly. Whether you’re hosting a gambling night with some employees dealing poker, or working a roulette table or having a raffle, or you’re actually treating your employees to a night out, the key is to be doing something. If all there is to do at the “party” is drink, that’s all people are going to do. True, they may have some pleasant conversations, but they work together for most of their waking hours. There isn’t a whole lot more to share.

  • Show up

This is simple. If my supervisor says “we’re gonna walk around the zoo for charity” and she doesn’t even go, the whole thing feels stupid. If you can’t be bothered, neither can they.


Make sure your building has handicap access. People who don’t even work for you- who have never even been to your building- will find you and sue you if it doesn’t meet ADA standards. Simply stated: Make it accessible.

Anti-Social Media

For companies that seek to create a community with their customer base, social media is an excellent tool. Having a dialogue, where the owner them self replies to negative reviews, and the Twitter account really dips into that sweet millennial humor, increases both the visibility and general positive attitude towards your company.

However, bad press is everywhere these days.

  • Social Media Policy

The generation that warned their kids about being too open on the internet is now the greatest violator of that rule. This stuff used to just stay inside people’s heads. Now, a twit makes a tweet, and people know their name, where they live, what else they’ve said, and who they work for. The careless actions of employees can seriously put pressure on you to take action.

Your employee handbook should have a Social Media Policy that explains the conduct you expect your employee to demonstrate on these sites. That may seem like overstepping. It’s not. Ohio is an at-will work state– you can terminate an employee for any reason that’s not discriminatory. With this policy in place, you can then insulate your company from a severe backlash.

You might not think anyone in your very small, tight-knit company would dare jeopardize your family, but you’re growing, and the future is now. Draft a social media policy.

  • Keep it to yourself (Part 2)

So many companies don’t keep it professional or understand that corporate social media is supposed to be sanitized yet endearing, not a battleground for ideological garbage wars. Keep it to yourself.

A million things can go wrong, but that means a million things can be done to help it go right. Some of it is really simple, some advice just needs to be said. If you’re having trouble or feel overwhelmed by having to solve every problem before it happens, give us a shout. We’d love to talk to you.