When I take on a new client, and after completing the initial marketing and management audit, I spend some time talking with key employees. Based upon the results of the audits, I can usually expect to hear the same comments I have been hearing over and over, lo these last 20 years.
Predictably, in about 95% of the time, they fall into these three main areas.
Result #1: “The boss is a jerk; is out of touch, doesn’t know the business anymore and should either sell it (to me) or retire.He’s always right and we’re always wrong. He is always in the way.”
Result #2: “The son/daughter.nephew, niece is a jerk; is out of touch, doesn’t know the business anymore and should either sell it (to me) or retire. He’s always right and we’re always wrong. He’s always in the way.”
Result #3: “The boss/owner/son/daughter/nephew/niece micro manages everything. He/she is into everything always second guessing my decisions and always telling me that I screw up too much. I try to please him/her, but nothing works. He’s always right and I’m always wrong.”
“Now”, says the boss, to me, “that you have spoken to our staff, do you still think you can help us?”
Some days you’re the hammer and some days you’re the nail. On this day I am both the hammer and the nail. So I tell him/her that some communication problems exist and I ask if he can see why an employee, who remains anonymous, might say some of the comments.
Sometimes he explains why such comments are possible. Other times I am getting a defensive rebuttal. Most of the time, I see confusion and almost a sense of surprise. Mostly, I am also seeking his agreement on getting together for a brainstorming session with the troops so I can observe their interactions.
In 95 out of 100 situations, I notice that the boss/owner/etc is more of a “my way or the highway” type of person than an unflattering jerk, as described by the staff. Its his business and he wants it done his way. he has that right, but that’s not how you manage a 21st century employee.
Perhaps it is the difference between employees and entrepreneurs
An employee gets a paycheck for doing his or her job. An entrepreneur takes distributions should the business make a profit. My job is to explain to each of them the other person’s position and why they come off the way they do. Sometimes it opens their eyes, other times it nudges them to promise to be more understanding of the other guy. Other times it does no good at all. Both parties are dug in and are not going to change.
How do you make that change? Obviously, you would try to change the environment inside of the center and have a fresh airing of the issues (usually done by a 3rd party for objectivity) and a new “agreement” on how to communicate.
However; and NO matter how that resolves itself, you will always need to hire good people. If you are right, then you should hire people like yourself: ambitious, competitive, achievement oriented, goal centered, reward driven, BUT be prepared to have them challenge you, to ask WHY?, to offer up other suggestions and to not accept, “we have always done it that way or “because I’m the boss, that’s why.” Be prepared for it, but also be prepared for your business to improve…if you can handle a little constructive criticism.
If you’re not prepared for that, you can always go back to hiring people who will never challenge you, who will always grudgingly do it your way, who have given up offering ideas, who expect nothing from you and they, in return, will give you nothing but time and unfortunately will eventually call you a jerk. You in turn will continually second guess them, not trust them and refer to them as “the help.”
If you can’t live with that, and not many leaders can, then develop a very clear vision of your business; develop a very precise plan and share it with motivated employees willing to make a difference and share in the rewards. This is where the rubber meets the road. This more than sending out emails and doing fliers; it is the very essence off the structure of your business. You cannot afford to get this wrong
As Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric used to say about his management philosophy” “I hire the best people, give them their marching orders and stay the hell out of their way.”
Do you have that? Where are you on this continuum?