Bosses work here too...yeah, right here in this business.
And if it’s a small business, chances are, the bosses are also the owners.
Perhaps you’re wondering why would I want to remind you of this, and moreover, why now?
Well, one reason is that I’m a business owner and a “boss” too, albeit a sassy and savvy boss.
But the real reason is that recently, I was acutely reminded that we bosses are rebuked, scolded, screamed at, chastised and even cursed out about how we treat our employees. Especially how we should communicate with them.
On the the other hand, it seems as though everyone forgets that, after all, we’re the ones who take the frightening business risks. We’re the ones who take the dreaded “overdrawn” calls from the bank and we’re the ones who figure out how to make payroll, month after month.
So I got to thinking...
Since we own these businesses and work in them too, how should our employees treat us? What undisclosed wants do we have that we have not shared with them? And above all, what can we do to help them meet these needs and keep themselves employed?
So, with your permission, I have appointed myself spokesperson for all small business bosses.
To fulfill my role, I have reviewed my notes from the many conversation I've had with other bosses. Then I selected the top 10 things you need, that if your employees can satisfy, it would help you keep them employed. Perhaps forever.
If everybody is ready, here are the top 10 things we really want from our employees...
Do not waste our time
There are many ways in which you waste our time but the one which really annoys us, is when you want to discuss a matter with us. You constantly come to us completely unprepared.
We want you to get the facts. We do not want to have to do your research for you, even if we had the time.
And while you’re at it, remember that effective communication is not only for bosses. Think of what you want to say before you sit down in front of us. Having to watch you think is well, ahm, painful.
Occasionally remind us that we were right to hire you
How? Only ask us to solve those issues that you cannot solve yourself. Having you come to us constantly with really juvenile things is really annoying.
Furthermore, we are aware of what you are capable of (after all, it forms a large part of your salary) so we are only going to refer them back to you.
And as you leave the room, we will wonder why we’d hired you in the first place...
Constantly remind yourself that we bosses are not foolish
Do you know that we spot the gaps and even the little alley ways in your stories? Yes...we recognize embellishments in any form you present them.
We don’t always rush to call you out on all of them because one of our roles, is to give you the benefit of the doubt.
But really, we can connect the dots between how many aunts you had at the beginning of your employment and how many funerals you have to attend 6 months later, due to the death of aunts.
Help us to take your doctor seriously
We recognise the difference between sick leave and house arrest. And we don’t want you to be under house arrest when you’re only on sick leave.
But we also know the difference between “laryngitis” as stated on your sick certificate and “lost for words” as displayed on your face, when we catch you singing karaoke on your “laryngitis” leave.
When this happens, we take all the sick certificates which you bring after that with a grain of salt, even if we don’t question them out loud.
Remember that bosses don’t read minds
Yes, we know that you are studying.
Yes, we know when your exams are.
What we did not know is that you would want your vacation, some study leave, any outstanding lunch breaks and any other leave imaginable, just before your exams.
So, requesting such leave one week before you need it, and telling us “you should know I would have wanted it!” suggest we are the greatest of mind readers. This not only breaks the rules, it’s just not smart.
Furthermore, it upsets the rest of team, it disrupts the smooth running of the business and annoys your bosses. Therefore, when we refuse your request, we’re not “bad-minded” we’re just helping you to keep your job.
Don’t threaten us
Please, don’t keep threatening us that if we don’t “X” or if we don’t “Y” you are leaving...just leave.
Put yourself in our shoes and you will understand our disappointment when we see you show up again and again after these very vocal threats.
Stop trying to suck up to us
We are suspicious of employees who try to get in our good books by constantly complimenting us and attempting to do us favours.
Just because we’re quiet about it does not mean we’re not aware of it. You see, we are still in the process of learning how best to deal with it in our small businesses.
But we do know, that according to the Journal of Applied Psychology, this behaviour of sucking up to bosses takes energy you could be using to do what we hired you to do.
Furthermore, you lose or maybe failed to gain, the respect of your colleagues as well. We are concerned that this impacts cooperation and reduces productivity in our businesses.
Learn how to keep your bosses informed
Yes, we’re doing it. We’re dismantling the tradition structures that we operated with for so long. That’s because we accept that we do not have all the answers and we want more of your input.
So now, as part of this new approach, we want you to keep us informed more. But not just any old how. Here are a few guideline we want you to follow:
# 1: Keep us informed regularly; we don’t like surprises.
# 2: Don't leave out the bad points because you want to look good; tell us all and we’ll deal with it.
# 3: Give us at least two possible solutions for every problem. In this way we have choices and we are assured that you're thinking.
# 4: Do your homework and groundwork before you come before us. We don't want you to have to go back and look something up every time.
#5: Remember we’re asking for nothing more than you would want from your staff, when you're in our position!
9. Don’t keep waiting on us to begin your self-development
Look, work as you know it is changing.
You employees, now need a much larger collection of skills than was the case in the traditional “brains at the top” and “brawn at the bottom” approach.
So help us bosses to keep you on the job. Start a programme of continuous professional develop (CPD) and we will support you. Such a self-development programme will help you to:
- Acquire “transferable” skills
- Update the range of your professional knowledge
- Increase career opportunities and flexibility
- Increase personal effectiveness and productivity
- Build self-confidence and self-esteem
- Increase income
- Experience life in a whole new way
We want you begin by developing your interpersonal skills, especially:
- Communication and Public Speaking
- Understanding and dealing with office politics
- Resolving conflict
- Etiquette/good manners
- Understanding and valuing diversity
These skills will build your self-esteem and self-confidence, increase your personal productivity and personal effectiveness.
Give us a Christmas Bonus
Yes! You read the heading right...give us a Christmas bonus!
All year we tolerate your lateness. We allow you time off even when we suspect the validity of the reason and we pay for productivity that seldom reaches above average.
Then we can’t find you when we need staff to work overtime and you try our patience in other incredible ways.
Instead of expecting a bonus from us this Christmas, how about giving us a bonus of, let’s say, 10% off your December salaries? This will encourage us to keep the doors open and keep you on the job too.
Wishful thinking on our part?
The next step in helping your bosses to keep you employed?
There you have it...
My small attempt to bring some balance to all the information out there, about how employers should treat employees and precious little about how employees should treat bosses.
It’s also a clear message to employees as to how to keep themselves employable in a competitive world in which jobs are hard to find.
Similarly, I want bosses to use this post as a crystallizing of what you want from your employees. Then I want you to partner with your employees to help them to give you what you want and help them to keep their jobs.
We can do this...can’t we?