The Pitfalls of Employing People!

Posted on August 11, 2017


One of the things I hear most from my clients, is the complications they endure in process of employing people and seemingly, always getting let down or persecuted by stressful structured dismissal claims.

The answer to these problems almost always comes at the beginning, with the employer making basic mistakes in the interview process which allow them to ignore gut feeling which, almost without fail, is proven correct.

A common error, which we have all suffered to different extremes, is to make the assumption that we are good judges of character and are nobodies fool. It is a defence mechanism that puts us in a state of where we are in denial of flaws in someone’s nature, letting our ‘good judge of character’ overcome our ‘gut feeling’.

The other one which is classic ‘David Brent’ is to trying to make friends with the person you are employing. This is done in the false hope that if you become great friends, the employee will break their back to make the business work when in fact, the opposite is often true.

I had a friend  a while back who was working in IT sales. He became such great pals with his boss they bought season tickets together at Stamford Bridge which I thought, was a bit unnatural. Of course, in sales, you are only as good as your last month and when he began underperforming, the assumption was his boss would back him.

He didn’t and couldn’t back him, so the relationship came to a sticky end with accusations and counter-accusations of back stabbing and lack of loyalty. So, any of you Chelsea fans who sat in the Mathew Harding Stand and wondered why there was 2 empty seats whilst Chelsea were marching on to glory under Jose Mourinho, there is your answer.

One of the most successful companies I deal with, offers a lesson to us all. The MD, who I have dealt with since 1997, is incredibly distant and everyone who works for him claims ever to have known anything about him outside the working environment.

However, he gets lots of work and pays very well and on time, so everyone respects him and are completely happy with the arrangement. With regards to me, he is always very courteous but business like. Any relationship outside that circle is negligible and that suits me too, as I know where I stand. The fact our business relationship has spanned 20 years is testimony to a successful but distant business relationship.

Too many employers want their employees to think that their boss is a great guy but it is a one way road to disaster. Liberties get taken and it generally, with only the odd exception, ends in tears. Don’t even get me started on employing family members; I have tried that and ended with a metaphorical custard pie slammed straight into my face.

On the flip side, if you are a boss and an employer is trying to intrude and become part of your private life, they are often doing it to put themselves in a position of strength. It is important to avoid grovellers at all cost, they are a waste of oxygen and they will ultimately be a black hole for sympathy, taking perpetual sick and compassionate leave, before eventually screwing  you over. I have seen it first hand on at least a dozen occasions.

That is not to say that friendships can be made in the working environment but it has to be for the right reasons not just to try to get favours in the work place. I quite like a lot of customers but they are generally like minded in that they are not desperate for new friends as they have their own peers and hobbies.

People who call their employees ‘my boys’, ‘my girls’ or the even more nauseating, ‘my babies’, might well be trying to be a good boss but such is their narcissism, they do not have a clue what they are getting into and almost always run into HR problems, even litigation.

After 20 years, I still get it wrong sometimes but I have learnt that when I speak to a new client or read a CV, gut feeling is always the right route to take with regards to employing people. You may get it wrong now and then but the gut feeling success rate far outweighs the amount of time you ignore your instincts, only to end up deep in the shit.

So, pay well, be respectfully distant and offer the opportunity for a co-operative style bonus system to employees and you will be somewhere on the right track. I say that as the companies I know who are doing well, operate in such a manner; it works as there are no grey areas.

You could of course, also avoid employing unlucky people by simply throwing half the CV’s you receive in the bin before you have even read them.

I have written this blog because I have heard about lots of staffing issues lately and because, earlier this week, I received a CV where the individual stated ‘I approach every challenge with unrivalled passion and the pursuit of excellence’.

My gut feeling made me come to the following conclusion.

What a cunt.



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