When you hear former small business owners say that this is the character they miss the least, what they’re really saying is that employee management is not a walk in the park.

Employees are idiosyncratic creatures, and when we pour all those idiosyncrasies into a small business like ingredients into a blender, most of the time we cross our fingers and hope for the best. Well, therein lies the average small business owner’s problem. It requires more than luck to select the right ingredients and blend them the right way to produce a palatable mixture—it requires skill.

Show me a small business owner complaining about employee problems, as many incessantly do, and I’ll show you a small business owner lacking employee-management skills. Many owners gamble with this important aspect of their businesses by settling for seat-of-the-pants employee management rather than acquiring the skills or help to properly hire, train, manage, and fire. Successful employee management is a critical aspect of managing for success. Consider the existence of human resource departments in big companies, usually led by a highly paid VP—clear recognition of the complexity and importance of employee management.

So what is a small business owner with limited resources to do? For most, a full-time human resource specialist is out of the question. Therefore, the owner must often fill the role ordinarily performed by an entire HR department in a big company, from recruiter to VP. And there’s not much choice in the matter because I don’t believe it’s possible to manage a small business’s staff effectively without a reasonable level of employee management skills. The question is, where do you gain that skill?