How to Solve the Single Most Common HR Issue – Interview with HR Expert Marc Bishop

February 16, 2016
Solve the Single Most Common HR Issues

“What is the single most common HR problem for small business, and how would you recommend solving it?”

This was the main question we had in mind for Marc Bishop – Managing Director of leading HR consultancy PlusHR, and co-author of newly-published “HR for Small Business for Dummies” – when we contacted him to organise a quick-fire Q&A.

Of course, we also wanted to ask a lot more – and Marc obliged by answering all of our questions.

So, if you’d like to know what an HR expert and published author has to say about HR for small business, then today is your lucky day. Enjoy!

In your opinion, what are the three biggest HR challenges small businesses face?

  1. Recruitment in a tight market
  2. Managing employee expectations across a multi-generational workforce
  3. Line management capability to manage people

What is your advice on making these three challenges easier?

  1. Recruitment – be happy to compromise. If you find someone that has 85% of what you need, go for them or risk losing them!
  2. Employee expectations – take time to understand how to get cross-generational teams to work together and learn from each other.
  3. Line Management Capability – always invest in the basics. Don’t always assume that just because someone has managed in the past means they’re good at it… help them with managing difficult conversations and setting stretching targets, and make sure that the HR processes and policies support them and don’t get in their way!

On the subject of HR processes… how can a person know if their HR processes are ineffective?

When people are disgruntled and leave!  In simple terms, if your processes from recruitment to reward don’t work you will soon know. I.e. if you recruited the wrong people, placed them in the wrong jobs, or didn’t pay them competitively, you will soon find out you are doing things wrong because people will get angry and leave… also, where you rely on line managers to support processes, if they are onerous you will soon be told!

OK, so what is a good way for somebody to improve their HR processes if they aren’t working?

Look at processes through the lens of the line manager.  A great process will underpin the culture of the organisation.  For example, if you expect line managers to be accountable for the decisions they make, then don’t place several levels of ‘sign-off’ within a recruitment process.

Does improving HR processes make a noticeable reduction in HR issues? If so, how?

Good, transparent and accountable processes will underpin your line management capability and therefore reduce the admin and support work undertaken by HR.

As the Managing Director of an HR consultancy, you’ll have seen your fair share of small business struggles. What is the single most common problem people come to you for help with?

Managing the exit of a poor performing employee.

Thanks. And what would be your immediate advice to somebody struggling with this issue right now?

Don’t believe the hype that some people can’t be fired!  But, don’t assume that it will be easy and won’t cost you any money…  in the end, everyone pays for their mistakes in terms of not managing employees appropriately, and you might just end up exiting them under a compromise payment.

Tell us about your new book?

My new book, co-authored with an ex colleague, is aimed at owners and directors of SME’s.  The book, HR for Small Business for Dummies follows the concept of the employee life cycle.  It guides SME’s with regard to when and how they might hire people, the legal hurdles they will face to remain compliant, all the way through to developing robust reward and performance management approaches to underpin the growth of their business.

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