Being open, transparent and willing to share your feelings creates harmony. It is also a savvy business strategy. People like to know who you are and what you stand for and in business (and families) this starts from the top down.
I was reminded of these factors, when working with a couple family businesses recently. Here are ten things I believe your staff will find reassuring,
refreshing and illuminating.
1. Have Fun
Fun is a huge motivator. So you don’t have to speak in whispers and pretend to be working overly hard when I'm around. I appreciate that it’s very possible to perform at a high level and have a fun at the same time. Believe it or not, before I started acting like the CEO or MD and took on senior roles, I used to be far less serious and have more fun. I was often the instigator! When I see you enjoying what you do it makes me feel better about our company and about myself. I experience more freedom, as if I’m part of something bigger than just a business.
2. Like Me
If I come across as uncaring, or not valuing your opinions it’s probably because I'm focused on our targets and not listening properly. If I’m your boss, the firm is in part an extension of who I am and at times I can be uncertain of my authority and or ability to deliver. As the business owner, the company is an extension of myself. Either way, I want you to like your job. In fact, I'd like you to love what you do. And most definitely I want you to like me.
3. Pay it Forward
In my career, a number of great people stepped in and made a big difference in my development in both my professional and personal life. I will always be grateful to these generous-hearted souls. So I offer you advice, because I see something special in you. In addition, I’m repaying the debt I owe to the people who helped me. I am paying my good fortune forward and one day I trust that you will do the same.
4. Pay More
I would love to be the employer of choice in our sector. Right now I mostly pay above our competitors. If not, it's due to current financial constraints. If I go out of business tomorrow, you lose your job. That's terrible and unthinkable. In my case, I lose my business, my investment, my credit, my house… in reality I lose everything. It's my responsibility to take care of our profits and keep the bottom line healthy. Someday, if you become a boss – or when you start your own business – you’ll understand margins more fully. Moving forward, I relish having a thriving, solid and totally secure company that can offer you enhanced payments and bonuses.
5. Focus on Results
I know you may dislike fulfilling certain types of orders or doing certain types of work. If these tasks make you fall behind and make it tougher to hit your personal targets then it’s beyond painful. You probably then wish we would sell other products or services. Sometimes the jobs which take the most time or you actively dislike, are actually the most profitable for our company. And even if they aren’t that profitable, sometimes the least desirable work is the only work we can win right now. Occasionally, we take on certain projects because it's the only way to keep the lights on! Make this mantra your mantra, "It's not what you do, it's the way that you do it! That's what gets results." And we are a results-driven company.
6. Mutual trust
You can't stand to be micromanaged. That's good, because I dislike micromanaging people. Yet freedom is earned, not given. Show me your wings, fly on your own and I’ll gladly focus on something else. In fact, if you feel I’m micromanaging you, tell me. Say, “I can tell you don’t quite trust me to handle this well. I understand, so I’m going to prove to you that you can trust me.” Explain your feelings and not only will I get off your back, I’ll encourage you, support you and respect you all the more.
7. Mutual respect
I will not discipline anyone in front of you. However, believe me I do see what's going on, like an all seeing eye. The fact is every employee, no matter how poorly they perform, has the right to confidentiality and privacy. It may happen that I won’t discipline these people at all, because occasionally more is going on than you know.
8. Choices and challenges
I worry about sales. I worry about costs. I worry about facilities, employees, vendors, suppliers and of course our customers. That's a lot of distractions. A smörgåsbord of worries for me to choose from! Occasionally I'm snappy. Occasionally I’m overwhelmed. Occasionally I’m tense, irritable, short-tempered and hard to pin down. It’s certainly not your fault. I'm challenged by choice and focused on doing my best to fix what needs to be done to secure our futures.
9. Confidential matters
Even though I would love to, and even though you and I have become friends; I still can't share some business information; especially if it regards other employees. Often I just can't tell you, because personal information as been passed to me in trust. I am sworn to secrecy.
10. Here forever
Career changes and job-hopping may be a fact of business life today, however as a boss it’s a fact I dislike intensely. I see you like part of our family, not as a disposable commodity. If/when you leave, I'll be sorry to see you go. A part of me will feel like I’ve failed/lost you. I want to run the family kind of business people hope to retire from and want to stay with forever. Finally, more than anything I’m humbled by the trust you place in me as your boss. I thank you for that. It means more to me than you'll ever know. Click here for more on business confidence.