Two men, looking at a third one, dead, in the trunk of a car:
Louis: Who’s that?
Ordell: That’s Beaumont.
Louis: Who’s Beaumont?
Ordell: An employee I had to let go.


This scene, from Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 movie,  “Jackie Brown” has stayed with me, with its brutal and dark humor.

Samuel L. Jackson brilliantly and creepily plays the role of a gangster business man, who, having chosen that there was nothing else possible, talks with a colleague about having summarily dismissed a member of his staff.  Forever.  And, adding the Tarantino touch:  With utter nonchalance.

I laugh out loud as I cringe, watching this scene and the scene where Beaumont is actually shot.  Based on 70’s blaxploitation films, the movie is violent, foul-mouthed and frequently hilarious.

For a small business owner, hiring and managing employees can be one of the most challenging responsibilities to confront.  “Dealing with employee issues” is a frequent agenda item for my clients during our meetings.

In the years that I’ve been consulting with business owners, I’ve heard a LOT of variations of…“How do I get them to….(fill in the blank)?”

I’ve seen many solutions, band-aids and fixes that business owners have come up with to address the question.  Examples range from throwing money at people, bribes, rewards and cajoling; to force, threats, tears, games and begging.  I’ve also heard denial,  sadness, reasonableness, avoidance, resignation, anger, irritation, frustration, fury and even “to hell with them.”

What do you do when you don’t really know what to do?  (Tip:  “Killing” is an unworkable solution.)

Here’s what some people do:

  • Start reading everything you can on managing yourself and other people.  (Even the bad stuff, or stupid stuff, will be a contribution to you–it’s “What NOT to do.”)
  • Start practicing, by trial and error, the stuff that makes sense to you.  You’ll eventually learn, over time, things that work and don’t work.  (A word to the wise:  This can be very expensive, time consuming and frustrating.)
  • Ask others what they do, and hope it might work in your company.
  • Call me  (This is a shortcut.)

I don’t have any magic beans.  I suggest that if someone tells you they do, you should be skeptical.  That being said, I have a lot to contribute to people who are tired of struggling and merely learning by trial and error.

My clients value having a sounding board.  Someone who’ll brainstorm with them.  Someone who helps to sort out the questions of “Have I done enough?” or “Am I being a tyrant?”  Someone who can make distinctions that create a place to stand that works.

Getting clear about what really works in your company, in your company’s culture, and for you as a leader, provides a foundation.   It’s possible to invent agreements and practices for your company that allow for leaps forward in productivity, workability and profit.  Really.

If you’re challenged by the task of producing results through others, you should talk to me.

A former colleague and I have an irreverent story/joke between us.  It goes like this:

At the very end of a meeting with a client, the client says, “Oh.  One more thing.  I wanna show you something.”

Me:  “Ok.  What is it?”

Client:  “Walk out to my car with me.”