Hard Truths of Being a Manager

Go online and you'll find thousands of managing tips. There is no short supply. A lot of them are very good and valuable, but most are common sense. Blogs will tell you hundreds of easy solutions to minor conflicts with employees. It’s almost as if being a manager is so simple that it must have been mastered long before the internet blessed us with its crowd-sourced archives of knowledge. So, why do I still have a hard time being a manager? Why do I still find challenges with employees to be terribly difficult? These thoughts bring up other questions: What are my motivations for keeping employees and what are my motivations for letting them go? When is the right time to let an employee go? These are the questions I couldn’t seem to find answers to in the trade of float therapy, where heart, integrity and caring make up the foundation of our business. This is the part of the post where I could go over all the details of my time with a former employee who had just put in her two weeks' notice at the writing of this article months ago. There were many miscommunications, unspoken conflicts, and actual conflicts. It was a challenge which lasted a very long time and took quite a bit of investment of time, energy, thought, patience, and heart. But, I don’t think the details are actually that important. What's important is that it could have gone better. In the end, I learned two very important things. First, we should have let her go sooner. Her attitude was a detriment to our business, and that is priority number one. It was affecting other employees as well as clients. We have to ensure the health of our business so that we can be of greatest service to our clients. As soon as we aren't serving our clients to the best of our ability, we lose what makes us special. Second, I should be a better manager...And, I will be. But just like someone starting to lift weights, they can’t bench their own bodyweight the first time they grab a barbell. It is something that takes years to develop. I don’t ever want to stop improving, so it will take me my whole lifetime. Unfortunately for our employees, however, they get who I am today. That may be better than who I was two years ago, but it’s not as good as who I will be two years from now. This means that sometimes our employees suffer because I simply do not have the skillset to manage them properly. What an ugly idea. Ugly, but I believe it is true. If I don’t have the skills to bring an employee around and re-light their fires or turn their attitude back around, then I simply have to let go...and let them go. The upside is that we have had the goal of becoming better managers since we hired our first employee, and we have since created an environment that has an extremely high employee retention rate. Our employees now feel as though they are part of something powerful and regularly tell us they feel they have become part of a family when they joined our team.   What do you think? Is there always a better way to manage an employee and keep them on board? When do you think is the right time to let someone go? What have you found most helpful when managing employees at your float center? As always, if you feel this is a valuable post, please share.