When you’re running a small field service business, problems pop up in unexpected areas. Most business owners are experts at what the business does, but they’re not necessarily experts at managing their talent when they start the business. However, if you want your business to succeed, talent management is a very important hat you need to wear.

You might be making a few mistakes with your staff, but there’s good news: Many of the solutions are easily fixed. Follow these simple rules and save yourself (and your business) from a lot of pain:

Don’t Be The Family Employment Agency

Let’s say you have a small field service business, and your nephew is the ne’er-do-well slacker of the family. Your sister pleads with you to please give him a chance. You’re tempted to be nice.

Nice is good, but keep the following things in mind: You should never hire someone you wouldn’t be willing to fire. If you agree to bring family members on board, you need to do so with stricter guidelines than you have for strangers. Strangers understand that if they don’t do a good job, they’ll be fired. But family members might expect you to give them a job, no strings attached. Make it clear from the beginning that they are expected to work and work hard and that if they won’t, you’ll fire them.

Don’t Treat Your Employees Like Family

Being kind and loving is good when it comes to a new baby, broken leg or pneumonia. But expecting your employees to come to your family Christmas party, abide your overbearing husband or tolerate prying into their personal lives because “We’re all family” is a recipe for disaster. You need a good rapport with your employee, but if you start acting like The Office‘s Michael Scott, you’ve gone too far.

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Hire an Employment Attorney to Help With Policies

Employment law is sticky and you will make mistakes. But, you should make every effort to follow the laws. Hire an employment attorney to help you with your policies and procedures. It’s cheaper to pay up front for advice than to hire an attorney when you get sued for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

For instance, if you have a technician who works 42 hours in a week, you can’t just have him or her work 38 hours the next week instead of overtime. You still must pay that two hours of overtime. If you have 15 or more employees, you need to make reasonable accommodations for someone with a disability — and, of course, you can’t discriminate on the basis of gender, race, etc. When in doubt, a quick $100 question to an employment attorney can save you thousands in the long run.

Be the Boss You Would Want to Have

Sometimes it feels like employees should owe you — after all, you’re providing them with jobs. Switch your way of thinking — without your employees you won’t have a business. So, ask yourself, would I want a boss to treat me like this? Offer fair salaries and fair vacation time. Don’t demand unreasonable work hours. Be the boss you always wanted to have.

ABOUT Suzanne Lucas

Avatar photoSuzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. She now writes about Human Resources and Business for a number of different publications.