Surround Yourself with Problem Solvers - Friends and Employees

 Recently, while poking around on Google, I came across an article that talked about different personality traits that make great employees. It got me to thinking what I valued in an employee and also, what I value in a true friend. 

When I was just starting my company, I became a member of an organization called Business and Professional Women. I met so many great people and ended up making life long friends. When I think about the women in that group, I now notice that I gravitated toward women who not only supported me but matched my personality, at least in a few important traits. My 2 best friends from that group were Lindsay and Ellen. Ellen has since moved away so I don't see her as often but Lindsay continues to be one of my best (if not the best) friend I have. When we are together, like we were last weekend, we can talk non-stop. Both our husbands love to tease us about that and Lindsay is quick to say "Why do you think we became friends? We could talk for hours in the parking lot after our meetings ended". So true!! 

What was amazing about both Ellen and Lindsay is that they supported me 100%. They often helped out at the shop, for no pay. Gave me advice and kept me sane when things were going off the rails. The trait that they both have, even to this day, is that they are problem solvers. They are both extremely focused on being positive. I'd like to think that I'm that way too.  I remember one holiday when they were both helping me in the shop and an employee delivering balloon bouquets had opened the window in the car, so he could smoke. This was a no-no and he knew it. In case this has never happened to you, if you drive a car fast with the windows down with separate balloon bouquets in the back seat, they will get very twist and will most likely never come apart. When the driver returned to the shop with his head down, I panicked. I might have started yelling and crying. What did my two friends do? They sat me down and told me they would take care of it. They proceeded to untangle the balloons and get the driver back on the road. That's pretty amazing for 2 women who took time from their own jobs to work for me for free!! 

This realization got me to thinking about my best employees. It's no secret that I had many employees over my 34 year floral career (and 4 years before that with my cleaning service) and some of them were just awful. They were not problem solvers and some of them actually seemed to feed on things going wrong. They might not have caused any problems but they certainly weren't coming up with ideas to solve them. They were the first ones to complain and play the victim. I had an employee tell me once that she thought it was funny when I got upset. I looked at her and thought, what the hell? Another time an employee accidentally broke a very expensive printer on a day that I was not in the shop. When I came in the next morning, I found her note, to another employee saying, "I broke the printer - ha ha ha, Georgianne is going to freak, I wish I was there to see it". I know she didn't do it on purpose but wow, yikes! I'm embarrassed to admit I had people working for me like that. 

The last 2 years of having the shop, I had a very small staff. Oh how I loved that time. All my problem causing employees were gone and what was left was a small group of people that had an attitude of - Problem? What problem, we can do anything we put our mind to!!  Giving a shout out to those core employees that got us through Covid was Alanna, Alicia, Jeff and Matt. 

Over those 34 years, I had many other employees who I would classify as Problem solvers but not as many as you might think. When I look back to how long I kept some of those problem causing employees, I actually cringe. It's occurred to me that by keeping some of those problem employees, I probably lost some great employees. If I had a do-over, I'd surround myself with can-do, problem solving employees. Those who choose to find solutions, who refuse to be victims (I had a few of those also), and spend their energy moving past challenges. People like that are irreplaceable. 

Remember, you can't change who someone is and you should never try. I learned the hard way that I could not bend someone to be what I needed just as I couldn't always adjust myself and the business to fit them. Someone is either a positive person or they aren't. This post doesn't even address employees who lie, steal or "stuff" designs with unpaid flowers. 

As we all know, the flower business is much harder than most people know. The industry is always changing, the customer can be demanding and turning a profit can sometimes be elusive.  If you take away anything from this post it's that you deserve to surround yourself with good people. Do you have a problem employee who causes you stress? I challenge you to put yourself and your business first. If they are annoying you, they are probably annoying your good employees not to mention your customers. One positive employee is worth 2 negative ones. I know the holidays are upon us and you may feel like you need every single "body" right now but perhaps after the glitter of the holiday season settles, perhaps take a hard look and clean house. Don't let a bad employee hold you hostage. My experience showed that every time a bad person made an exit, the business not only survived but thrived. 

On that note, I wish all my floral friends a stress free and financially successful holiday season!!