CIPD People Performance Consultants

Time to admit you don’t have all the answers?

We often encounter talented people who have built successful businesses doing what they do best. But no matter how well you know your own business, managing a workforce requires a distinct skillset. These leadership skills might not form part of your vocational field of expertise.

Employees should be able to look to their leaders for direction, clarity and support. However you will not acquire these interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence traits while undertaking vocational qualifications. For example you wouldn’t expect a world class mechanic to know how to handle a staff grievance. However, revealing incompetence as a leader can be a daunting and ego-bruising prospect for any employer.

It is a widespread mistake to believe that you need to have all of the answers all of the time. (See our previous blog 5 things true leaders will never do). Smart CEOs recognise their own limitations and will ask for help without fear of showing weakness. To quote Richard Branson; “People often ask me how I manage to stay across so many areas. My answer is simple: I surround myself with people who have knowledge and talents in areas where I might not be so well versed”.

But what if you have a staffing issue and there is nobody in your team to step in and help? You might embody the ostrich, stick your head in the sand and hope that the problem will go away. When managing people this approach will not only fail to resolve the matter, but will likely exacerbate it. This approach may lead to a breakdown in workplace relationships that is beyond repair.

You could try to resolve the problem without help. This is an admirable but potentially risky option if your professional skillset does not lend itself to such a cause. Even if you are able to manage employee capability and conduct issues yourself, becoming embroiled in a staffing issue will divert your focus away from your core business. This option might also cost you more than just your time since the recent landmark Supreme Court ruling to remove access fees to Tribunals. (See our previous blog; As tribunal claims start to soar, is your business at risk of a disgruntled employee?)

The remaining option is to call in an outsider. Yes, a third party or ‘consultant’ will cost you, but it is also likely to be the most cost-effective, efficient and low risk solution to your staffing problem. Consultants focus on operations and process. We operate without prior knowledge of company culture or traditions, we are not influenced by internal politics meaning we can remain objective and concentrate solely on resolving the issue quickly for you. Furthermore, by working alongside a professional consultant, business leaders can develop their own knowledge, learn how to avoid the pitfalls of people management and operate best practice in the future.

So if herding cats seems like an easier task than managing your workforce, why not demonstrate that it is possible to be an industry expert and a great leader and give us a call, we can help.