I recently attended a networking event where the speaker asked how many of the professionals attending had employees. There were some raised hands and with it a few groans – which the speaker then replied with, “Yes, I deal with people too”, in a rather derogatory tone.
I sat there in shock at the complete audacity for someone to openly admit that not only did they seem to dislike their own employees, but they clearly didn’t have the time or the patience for them.
To me, this is a disgusting attitude to have.
As a business, your employees are your responsibility. That’s a fact. Their health, their safety; it’s all on you.
And here’s one you might not like the sound of either. They don’t need you. They don’t need to work for your business, and they don’t need your money.
In an age where the workplace is evolving, and skills can be learned for free, there is no longer a gate holding back anyone. Which means if someone wants to improve themselves and find a role where they are appreciated, they can.
Money doesn’t make people stay, it’s the people. And if you appear to be a dictator rather than a transparent leader, you can expect your employees to start a mutiny.
I understand that as a business leader you’re busy, and your people aren’t at the top of your list. But if they all walked out today, what would that do to your business?
Whether you like admitting it or not, your people are the biggest asset your business has, and if you want to take your business seriously then you need to take your people seriously.
They see things you don’t
Many business leaders are not in the trenches with their fellow colleagues. They’re either out trying to secure more business or sat behind a desk in a closed office.
The nitty gritty bits of the business functions are carried out by a team, and they can often see things in the business that are completely oblivious to the leader.
I’ve seen this in many businesses. People have ideas about how to improve a service or a product, but they’re restricted to following a process that the ‘top’ has implemented.
Yet, this is a process that was created years ago, by someone who is no longer involved in the day-to-day business.
From this, a number of things happen. Firstly, the team starts to talk about how this improvement would help each department, some departments clash, which leaves communication in crisis.
The individual leaves because they feel undervalued and worse, you lose a customer because your team has become unresponsive to customer communication. Slowly, but surely, a toxic environment occurs and people become unmotivated and unproductive. Hence you begin to treat your team with utter contempt.
It’s a vicious cycle I have seen many businesses fall into, but the fact of the matter is, you’re responsible.
Just like a parent has to take responsibility for its child’s behaviour, you have to wonder how you started this?
I’m a strong believer, that there’s no such thing as a bad employee, just a poor leader.
Admit you don’t have time
Much of the reason there’s a negative attitude towards having employees is because business leaders don’t make time for their employees. Not just on a group level but on a personal level.
This can lead to people feeling unattached to the company’s purpose and wondering how their input makes a difference?
Undervalued and frustrated with outdated processes makes for a team that ultimately are only there for the pay cheque.
Without knowing it, they’ve created soulless workplaces that don’t grow.
People want to see the business do well, and want to grow with the company, but there’s often no support to enable that to happen.
Time is a scarce resource in any business and is often limited to only ‘business critical matters – whatever that means.
However, creating time for people to voice a suggestion where they can discuss their idea with you at length, can ensure that ideas aren’t left to fester for months, or just left in a meaningless suggestion box.
Time is also important to those who are suffering with a major life trauma or illness. As a business, your immediate reaction can be; well how is this going to affect my business? But did you take a moment to wonder how the business could support that person?
You may not be well-equipped emotionally or mentally to help your employees, but there are partners out there who can help you do this so that employees gain the support they need at work, and can remain healthy and well while at work.
Many people who are going through difficult times in life still want to work, after all, it’s often the one norm that can help us through. But employers often make it more difficult than necessary, creating emotional boundaries and not providing flexible support.
The next time you give a sigh about your employees or get frustrated because they’ve not met your expectations, ask yourself the question about what you’ve done to instigate such feelings?
Employment is a partnership that should work for both parties, so don’t forget your side of the deal.