What do you expect? It's a phrase we often hear but in business it's so important. Your customer expects to get what you promise them. Your employees expect you to pay them but what you expect from them? Have you made it clear what each employee must do for you in order to maintain their employment? If you are like me, I'll bet you have a hard time with that part of the management equation.
Last year Kevin and I hired a Consulting company to come in and analyze our business and remember, you don't do something like that unless you are hurting. Yes, the economy was making for challenging days at the shops but mostly we reached out to this consultant because we were having "employee" issues. We love our employees and they appear to love us but that does not mean that everything goes smoothly. We had employee procedures in place but we knew that they were not always following them. We had expectations but that they were not always being met. We had problems but we had no idea what to do about them, so hence the Consultant. The Consultant was blunt. I'm not going to lie, he actually made me cry. I can speak for myself when I say it's hard to have a complete stranger come into your life and point out your faults and that is what happened, but rightly so. Keep in mind, he met with most of my key employees and observed the operation. He dug in and really found out what was happening.
- He told me that my employees liked me but they did respect me.
- He told me that my employees knew that they would not be held accountable for performing their duties correctly nor in a timely fashion.
- He told me that my staff were fully aware of the procedures that were in place. They not only agreed with having those procedures, they admitted that they had also helped to establish them.
- He told me that I made clear to them what I needed and expected but that my follow through on making sure my expectations and needs were met were lacking.
- He told me that I was mostly to blame for all of the above. I guess my degree in Management was not working for me. Ugh!!
Wow, talk about tough words to hear. Why did he blame me (and I will leave Kevin out of this because this is my blog, not his)? He said that although I had the procedures in place I allowed them to blame each other when something went wrong instead of being accountable themselves. Each admitted to following procedures only some of the time. He said they blushed and laughed it off, but the next minute were quick to blame their co-workers for not following procedures. It seemed when it was too much work for them, they chose the easy path, even if it made it harder on their coworkers. A vicious circle and apparently one the Consultant blamed me for. Why? Because I babied them. I made excuses for them when they cut corners, when they missed a deadline, I did not reinforce what was expected. I not only was not leading them, I was not managing them. We had an employee manual but I was not enforcing it. Hard to hear but he was correct and I needed to change.
Well, that was a year ago and have I made changes? I'd say that I have. It's funny how the employees that caused most of my issues have come and gone. It's funny how when made accountable for their actions and performance, some could not handle the stress. Do I feel bad about it? I guess in some ways but not in others. My motto for the last year has been "It's for the good of the customer" and truly it is. I don't want my staff to follow procedures just because it makes me happy. I want them to follow procedures so that we are able to provide the best customer service and product for our customers.
A financially healthy company makes for happy employees and happy customers. Without customers there would be no business. Without the business there would be no need for employees. No money for employees means no job for them. It sounds simple and you've heard it before but are your employees understanding it? Are they cooperating with your efforts to grow your business or are they in the way? Do they help you each day to make your company run smoothly or do they get in the way of it. You may like them but are they good for your company? Are they good for the other employees? I'm going to guess that you might have a problem employee or employees, as I did. What are you going to do about it? Are you going to take control, even if it means taking the blame?
If you want to move forward and finally get your business where it needs to be, you might have to change yourself first in order to get those around you change. Change is not always a bad thing and no one said that having employees is easy. Take it from me, I'm happier today than I was last year and I paid for the advise!!! For you, perhaps the advise is free??