News, Insights and Stories from the Australian and New Zealand tech ecosystem.

Help! I hate my Staff!

Back in 2006, I faced the challenge of recruiting my first team when I established my company Zest Marketing Concepts.  In order for the company to grow, I needed people.  I was eager and enthusiastic about being someone’s boss… little did I know I had a lot to learn!  7 years, 10,000 interviews, 6 offices and 300 staff members later, I feel I can confidently manage and give advice on this topic!

Staff. We can’t work with them, we can’t work without them!

Dealing with staff issues has become my forte. It’s what I do.

Every day I receive calls from stressed out, frustrated Managers begging for help and advice on how to deal with their staff. Whether the problem is lazy and unproductive teams to bad attitudes and crap work ethic, I have dealt with them all!

Have you felt this before? If so, do not stress- you don’t need to fire your workforce and start from scratch, you just need to do a few small things to get them back on track.



If a staff member has had a sudden attitude change or they suddenly start taking lots of sick days, I guarantee there is a problem.  It may not always be work related but you need to get to the bottom of it FAST.  Don’t leave the issue.  The first thing to do is to simply spend some time with them.  Point out that you have noticed a change and ask them if there is a problem!  It is actually that simple.

Your staff need to feel that you care.  The fact they are making it obvious to you by not completing tasks you give them or suddenly having a bad attitude means they are screaming for attention.  Do not ignore it.  Most of time,

the issue is small and easy to deal with, you can lend an ear, give advice and solve the problem before it gets any bigger.  Don’t let the problem get out of control and start to affect others in your office by choosing to avoid it.


Your team is a reflection of you. If you walk into your office one day and see a bunch of lazy, unmotivated looking people, then sorry to say it’s your fault! This may sound harsh, but a team only gets to this point if you have been too soft on them.   Have you set your standards and expectations?

Spending time on your staff expectations is a valuable exercise for every boss to do.  Think about your ideal team.  How would they look?  What type of attitude would they have? What type of conversations would they hold around the office?  How would they deal with your customers or clients?

If you haven’t ever told your team what you expect, how can you expect them to act in the way you want them to act?  Don’t delay with this one. Take an hour out, type them up and run a meeting to lay them down!

I guarantee this will kick your team up the bums and their standards will start to rise. This obviously will mean a more productive and hard working team who are generating better results!  Perfect.


Do your team look bored?  Do they look like they wanted to stay in bed this morning? Have you experienced a high turn over of staff?  Having a high turn over of staff can cost your business thousands of dollars, so if this starts to happen you must try to identify the problem quickly.

A lot of the time it comes down to this- culture!  How fun is your business? We see some amazing examples of company culture with the likes of Google or within the Virgin Empire.  The problem is, as small business owners we often feel we cannot create anything like our larger competitors.  This is not true.  Every company has to start somewhere, so look at what is in your control.

I’ll give you some examples that nearly any business can adopt.  If you were to walk into one of the Zest offices, the first thing you’d notice is the fact we play up to date dance music and we usually play it loud! This is for one simple reason – we want to stay consistent to our brand and to our message. Zest wants to create a fun, young, dynamic fast paced working environment. From the magazines on reception to the pictures on the wall, everything we do screams this message.  We have a running machine for those who want to stay fit on their lunch breaks to a table tennis table for the competitive minded that need a break from staring at their computer screens.  We promote the fact that we want our team to have FUN every day. Because of this, if you asked any of our people, they’d say they love coming to work.


Lastly, a big reason for a lack of enthusiasm from your staff can be down to how valued they feel.  Do you give them a reason to get out of bed every morning? Setting goals and targets that your team can work towards provides them with direction and a sense of purpose.  No matter what position your staff are in, you need to ensure you spend time with them to find out what their goals are. Is there any extra education they would like? Are they saving up for anything at the moment?  Can you encourage them to take that long awaited holiday to get some rest?

Without goals, your staff become stale and will eventually quit.  Give recognition and support them in moving forward.  I love setting incentives for people that work hard, and this has always generated the company huge results with our teams setting records over and over again.

I hope this helps a little! To conclude, becoming a great leader and managing a team successfully takes a lot of practice and you will make mistakes.  Just stay in control, learn from what has gone wrong and create a workplace that encourages open communication and build relationships with all of your staff.

And remember…enjoy your team building ride.  Team building means expansion, and we all know what expansion leads to!

Liz Atkinson is the Director of Zest Marketing Concepts which is part of the Zest Possibillities group. For more information on how to deal with your staff issues please contact her via the website.

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