Each month, entrepreneur mentor Sandy Geyer answers a question from #nzentrepreneur readers…


I’m not sure if it’s just me that feels this way but why is it that most employees are so lazy and don’t use their common sense? What’s the point in hiring people when I just end up having to do their jobs for them? How do other employers do it? What am I missing here?


What you are missing is that leadership is everything in this area and you are at the root of your problem.

There is no doubt that it’s difficult to find committed people, and the work ethic in general seems to be getting worse, but we have to be responsible for who we take on.

Here are some tips to employing the right people:

Always hire the traits which are the hardest to teach ie. accountability, honesty and focus. The candidates need to prove these from previous work experience and their professional development journey so far. Check references carefully and make sure all periods of work are covered with references available. If they are late for the interview, misspell words in their CV, dress inappropriately or don’t communicate well – stay away from them. How they present themselves on their “best behavior” (in an interview) is a very strong indication of what you might land up with and if you have a negative instinct, listen to it, even if they have the most impressive skills base. A very experienced entrepreneur once told me that if we take the time to employ properly, management is easy, but it also works the other way round – and he was dead right.

Use employment tools such as personality profiles and proficiency testing. This gives you important insights into their strengths and motivations and a good idea of what they can actually do. Also, these insights assist you to manage them effectively and motivate them appropriately.

Base their wages on performance and not hours. If you pay them to show up its likely that’s all they will do. Remunerating for performance creates a win-win situation from the start and they are automatically incentivized to want to do well.

Don’t get too attached to your employees. Being the business owner can be lonely and it’s tempting to befriend our employees; but at some point, someone has to be the boss and offer guidance, and maintaining a professional distance equips us far better to deal with employee related issues appropriately as they come up.

Don’t take non-performance personally. In most cases non performance is due to lack of understanding, difference of focus or unconscious incompetence. Try to get a good understanding of why the person is not performing and deal with it constructively through better communication and skill training, or start termination proceedings if all else fails. Losing productivity and employees is distressing but it’s all part of being a business owner and it’s seldom a personal issue.


Sandy Geyer is an entrepreneur and mentor and teaches the principles of entrepreneurial intelligence at ENQ Practice.