Spotting Problem Employees Ahead of Time

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Your employees are the blood of your entrepreneurial life. No start-up will survive without a good set of people making sure that things run perfectly. The problem for you and any other entrepreneur is making sure that the people on your team are trustworthy and reliable. Some people have a sixth sense when it comes to reading people, but if you’re not that lucky you can simply keep an eye out for a few warning signs.

1. They’re Uselessly Critical

Criticism has a place at work, but only if it’s constructive. Any criticism must have a solution accompanying it or it’s just complaining or nitpicking. It also gets old really fast and is terrible for morale and interpersonal relationships.

Take note of anyone who brings up complaints for seemingly no reason other than to complain. Give them the opportunity to change things by asking them for solutions whenever they criticise something. If they can’t, make a note of that as well. Moving forward, you’ll need positive thinkers with real ideas.

You should also take note of people who criticise their peers without fail. Even a passing insult can affect morale. A business is a team effort, a difficult one at that, and you don’t need someone’s insecurities getting in the way of a good day’s work.

2. They Can’t Focus

The easily distracted make for entertaining television characters, but they have no place in your business. If you’re a savvy entrepreneur you’ll take note of anyone whose checking their phone at work or constantly shifting between their job and something entirely unrelated. Pay attention to whether they make eye contact, hold a conversation, or even just pay attention. They’re at risk for making mistakes because they just didn’t listen.

Do take note that some people can perform their jobs well, despite their apparent lack of focus. Make sure that you keep them on jobs that don’t require client interaction or that they can speak well, lest someone take offense to their seeming lack of interest.

3. They Can’t Adapt

There is a time and a place to stand your ground, but there are just as many times for you to change your mind and adapt to the situation. You need good planners on your team, but you’ll also need them to be able to change their plans. They can’t marry their devices – they need to be willing to make adjustments, on the fly if need be.


Take note of anyone who seems like they’re too stubborn to make changes when the time comes. While they can be useful for the planning stages, they may not be cut out for industries that have innovations coming down the pipe every month.

4. They’re Not Excited

Days at the office of a start-up can quickly become a grind. No matter how excited you are, there may come a time where things don’t look like they’re going to come together, but you need to hold on. People who don’t seem like they care and treat the business with obvious apathy are the last thing you need, as they’ll just make everything more difficult.

Employees with this trait need to be watched carefully. Do take note that some people are naturally reserved, which is okay. You need to keep an eye out for the ones who really don’t care. They’re going to bring everyone’s mood down unless you do something about it.

5. They Pass the Buck

As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to give credit where credit is due. When someone does something amazing, praise them, and when they screw up, let them know in private and try to find a solution. The latter situation is particularly important – many people are perfectly willing to throw the blame on someone just so they won’t have to admit that they made a mistake.

Here’s the main problem: if they’re not willing to admit their mistakes, it’s likely they’ll keep repeating them, having never need to figure out how things went wrong. You don’t need that in a management position, or in your company.

Of course, you’ll need every person at your disposal to succeed as an entrepreneur. That means that you can’t judge them too harshly. They might have just had an off day that resulted in unwanted behavior. Even if it becomes apparent that it’s a consistent trait, don’t be in a hurry to write them off. People can learn and grow, after all – but if they can’t do that, do what you need to do, whether making sure that they never get a promotion or even replacing them.

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