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Debbie Larry-Izamoje: Be Careful Who You Employ



IMG_6260I always thought that setting up a business was one of the most difficult aspects of entrepreneurship. But once again, running a business, that allows me communicate constantly with other entrepreneurs, has shown me that perhaps there really isn’t any thing more difficult than people management. The weird thing is, those books on leadership never really prepare you for it.

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll find an employee that fits all your boxes: intelligent, hard working and great at communicating. And then there will be times that life plays its funny tricks on you after the employment process. You find out that this person who seemed so great on paper is very different from what you expected, and not in a good way.

In your lifetime as an entrepreneur, you will meet the people who are hardworking, but not very flexible. Then you will meet those who are very intelligent and opinionated, but never know when boundaries are crossed. You will meet those who will simply never be satisfied with your company culture or environment. And if you are really unlucky, you will meet the employee that is lazy, probably arrogant and nonchalant about work; when you do, let me know, so I can say a prayer for you.

But before we get to the stage of saying prayers and dealing with stress, do you know that you can actually avoid employing people who do not fit into your team? I believe that most small business owners use emotions, as opposed to logic, when bringing people on board their team.

So the next time you want to employ that lady because her mum is sick, or that guy because you worked with him on just one project, think of this quote: “Your business is only as good as the team that runs it

Be Careful Who You Let In
My friend and I were talking about this before I decided to write an article.

We laughed at the thought of how timid people usually are before getting a job. How most people will make any promise to land a job and it seems like the minute the offer letter is signed, they sign away their promise to deliver value to the company.

I will admit that as we discussed, we both laughed at the lengths we had gone, in the past, to land our dream jobs. I mean if you have never attended an interview while fasting, did you really want that job?

As I took a sip of my cocktail, I couldn’t help but think: why do people forget so easily? Is it even about those companies, or is there just a need to apply to any company with a vacancy, so as to have a steady income?

Back to business owners… Don’t be deceived and do not let anyone run your business for you. It is your duty to be involved in the HR process, especially the final stage… before anyone joins your team.

Can I also add that you have to follow your instincts during any employment process? I can tell you from experience that if you have doubts about that person before they come in, they’ll most likely not fit into your culture.

Some people will say anything to get you to employ them, do not get carried away. You must know what you are looking for, and make your standards and company values clear from the jump.

State clearly what they are expected to do, working hours and any other important information, and ensure that they understand what has been communicated to them. Because the last thing you want, as a business owner… especially of a small sized company, is to spend your mornings worrying about an ineffective employee.

Create An Employee Handbook
In my Ebook “ 50 things you should do and know before starting a business” Yes! It is still on sale on my website or Instagram page.

I discussed creating an employee handbook, because business owners usually overlook this. Your employee handbook is a representation of your organization especially to new employees. It introduces your culture to your employees and informs each person of what is expected of them during their time at your company.

As the business owner, it is important for you to take time to write your employee handbook and consult with a lawyer if need be. The employer handbook will be a life saver, should you ever have to make rash decisions involving an employee i.e. termination of contract or disciplinary actions or defend yourself against employee claims.

Always remember:“Your business is only as good as the team that runs it”.

Debbie Larry-Izamoje, with Certificates in Innovation and strategy from Harvard University and user innovation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is the Founder of a fast growing digital agency in Nigeria and the group operations coordinator of Nigeria's only sports radio station, Brila Fm Twitter and Instagram: @dee_larry @imageboosters_ Email: [email protected]


  1. funke

    May 29, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    this is the honest truth, you couldnt have said it better. Nice one

  2. Pretty

    May 29, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    And have you asked your employee reason for the change in attitude? It’s mostly likely you changed the t&c to suit yourself after negotiations have been concluded. Worst pple to work for are women. From employee, you turn to driver, errand person etc. to pay their staff sef but will be wearing designers.then you wonder why d change in attitude. Check yourself.

  3. uche

    May 29, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Pretty you are a complete idiot. Did you read her article at all? its people like you that end up being horrible employees, you see a woman and believe you doesnt pay or she changes t&c so why work for her? There are so many men that dont pay and treat employees like slaves, you better take her advice or you can leave it seeing as youre probably jobless.

  4. ATOE

    May 29, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Rule number one that must be seriously look into

  5. Seyi

    May 30, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    This is very insightful, although we should point out that sometimes employers may also be the reason why employees exhibit poor work ethic.

    Having worked for SMEs and big corporates for few years, I discovered that most Nigerian entrepreneurs feel they are doing you a favour when they employ you.

    Some won’t pay salaries on time neither will they communicate reasons for delay. Some bosses will go on vacation with their family without paying even the driver that earns N40k…

    Most SMEs don’t take time to build structure around their businesses, if I must work for you, you must understand that I have my own career plans…How do you intend to help me fulfil my career plan even as I work for you as my employer?

    How interested are you in helping me achieve a work life balance?

    Most employers want to get that type of commitment you give when you work for Google, Facebook, GTB and other giants but are only interested in upholding the structure, attitude and MOs of Akanni & Sons Enterprises.

    • Jade

      May 31, 2017 at 9:01 am

      Running a small business is like having a baby. Nobody really teaches you how to be a mother , a lot of the things you will have to learn along the way. I think it is unfair to compare companies because these giants didn’t have the structure we so admire at some point. And guess what it was people that put those structures together. While I’m not saying it’s ok for SMEs not to have a good structure, all I’m saying is Rome wasn’t built in a day. Employees must realise that they are not in a prison and can walk away if the environment doesn’t suit them. Some will rather stay to ruin the business or give the employer unimaginable headaches while they get paid every month.

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