Wednesday 15 August 2018

Feargal Quinn: Not too late to tackle worker's problem with punctuality

Send your small business questions to Stock picture
Send your small business questions to Stock picture

Feargal Quinn

Q: I have a member of staff who is constantly late and does not take the warnings I have given him seriously. He is a really good employee in other aspects.

A: Over my years in business, I have encountered similar situations. Trying some of the following might yield a result.

Some people are notoriously bad early in the day and will jokingly refer to themselves as "not being a morning person". See how they would feel about changing their hours to allow them to start an hour later and finish appropriately later.

You could of course tackle the thing head on and after having a stern discussion with the employee, issue written warnings if they fail to comply after that.

They may think that if they have got away with this over a period of time, that you are soft on the issue and that there is no consequence for them. There would be nothing wrong with this course of action other than you may lose the positivity you get from the employee in other ways.

A final approach might be to conduct an appraisal and while highlighting all of the positive aspect of their contribution to the business, place a strong focus on the damage this persistent lateness is causing.

Once you have discussed the issue, set the employee the task of resolving the problem, and agree to sit down with them every four weeks to review. This more constant and visible monitoring might just bring about the change that you need.

Q: I have just returned to Ireland from living abroad where I was involved in the marketing industry. I am planning to set up a consultancy working with small to medium-sized businesses. Are there any tips that you have?

A: I hear of a lot more people moving back to Ireland in recent months which is refreshing, compared to the mass exodus of 10 years ago. There is always a bit of a dilemma when it comes to consultancy especially when focus is on SMEs. Those who are in most need of your services will not be able to afford to pay for it so it will be important that you have a number of different revenue streams.

For the very small companies who may not be able to afford your input, but badly need it, you might have a chat with your Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland to see if there is a role for you on their mentor panels or in developing/running some workshops based on your area of expertise for clients of either agency.

It would be possible to have an ongoing series of activity here, especially if you are available nationally and willing to travel.

Your next target area will be private clients. There will be medium-sized companies who will absolutely see the merit in getting inputs from you into their business. These inputs might take the form of a day or two a month or possibly some sort of a retainer where you might be inputting on a weekly basis. If you had a number of these clients combined with work for some of the government agencies on training and upskilling, you could very quickly find yourself busy.

Do make sure that you are registered on e-tenders where contracts are displayed.

Awareness will be a big part of how quickly you are successful. Regardless of what skills you might have, if clients don't know you exist, you won't get much work. As well as the basics of having a great website and social media, that might involve talking at some conferences to get your name out there. Offering to contribute an article for an industry magazine or an online publication would also be beneficial. Establishing yourself over time as a media contributor would also help you build credibility.

I have no doubt that you will be successful and wish you all the best at this exciting time. Let me know how things progress.

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