How to … be a ‘business bitch’

by 29 May 2007

Being a ‘business bitch’ means you are a strong leader, your colleagues know where they stand with you, and you aren’t afraid to identify problems and tackle them head on. At least that’s the view of motivational trainer Steve Miller, a former HR practitioner who coaches individuals and teams to be more driven, productive, and effective in their working environment.

Miller says too many people in HR are “pink and fluffy and like to hide behind doors”. You may consider this statement offensive, but his attitude is that people need to be “bitched” into being the best they can be. That means someone who is straight-talking, direct and doesn’t stand for any nonsense, but is fair, reasonable and – most importantly – gets the job done well.

“In the world of HR and training, it’s all gone mad,” says Miller. “There are a lot of managers who do not want to deal with the nitty-gritty issues. HR is training its managers to be soft and airy instead of tough and brave.”

He believes that HR is too frightened by employment law, and that this is stunting productivity. “Your managers are your customers, so get to know the business inside out,” he urges.

Dont be a victim

Many professionals are guilty of talking like victims and constantly making excuses as to why they don’t want to get involved – and these are the employees who most need a wake-up call.

Always keep the interests of the business at heart and constantly add value to the bottom line. A poor work culture or weak management creates “bad bacteria” that can spread through an organisation and on to the customers, which can be lethal.

One of the ways to add value is to experience line management outside of HR. The finance department is the lifeblood of the company, so get to know what goes on behind the scenes, or spend a day with the sales force and production teams. “Stop whingeing and take responsibility for management issues,” says Miller.

Most of the time, you need to “business bitch”people into believing in themselves, he argues. He cites Alan Sugar from TV show The Apprentice as a perfect example of what makes a great manager.

“Sugar doesn’t waffle or talk in confusing business language, but supports and rewards staff. He gets out there, talks to his people and inspires them. I am all for rewarding excellence,” Miller says.

Role model

Good business bitches do not lock themselves away in the back office. Sometimes it’s important to make emotionally difficult decisions, which means facing a problem if it affects other workers. For example, if a colleague with poor body odour who is not aware of the effect they are having on the rest the team is being secretly teased behind their back, the issue needs to be dealt with.

A business bitch will resolve this problem, but in a sensitive and confidential manner. Otherwise, the business suffers due to lower productivity and team dissent, and this can be detrimental to the bottom line.

If you become a model of excellence so you can inspire and direct your team, this has a domino effect of making people challenge one another. Affirm in your mind how successful you are and that you deserve the role you have, and be prepared to take risks. By becoming a business bitch, you can create positive energy that can benefit everyone, and also contribute to your organisation’s commercial success.

For more information

Words That Change Minds: Mastering the language of influence, by Shelle Rose Charvet, Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0787234796

Second opinion on the benefits of becoming a 'business bitch'

Steve Miller, motivational trainer

How do I ensure training helps to develop strong business leaders?

Make sure your trainer models business excellence and has an inspiring style. If not, choose another, or get an expert in to coach your existing pool of trainers.

What are your top tips?

Be direct and stop worrying about politically correct rubbish. Start believing in yourself as someone who has talent and impact, and appeals to others. Learn to be unpopular as long as your actions and behaviours are in the interests of the organisation.

Why did you learn to become a 'business bitch'?

I used to sit in meetings wasting time and achieving nothing. As I became more senior in my career, I banned meetings unless they were going to bring about three business actions. I realised I was there for the business and HR wasn't just about the soft issues.

Why should HR be a 'business bitch'?

To be seen as a business partner that can boost profitability, deliver top-class customer service and add to the growth and survival plans of the organisation. 6

By Scott Beagrie, courtesy of Personnel Today magazine.