|During a discussion about
micro-managers with a local accountant, he told me, "I have a
lot of independent business owners come through my office. A lot
of people can't work for or with others so they go into business
for themselves and never get around to expanding."
As a manager at a small business
myself, I've put a lot of thought into this matter. I occupy a
space somewhere between employer and employee so I have plenty
of opportunities to see both sides of things. I understand that
someone responsible for a product or service wants complete
control over the results because quality is of utmost
importance. Yet those tasked with carrying out that quality
simply want recognition for the things they're doing right and
guidance on what they're doing wrong. They certainly don't want
to feel like they're being babysat.
I've compiled a quick list on how
both employees and employers might handle their relationships
with one another to maximum effect. The beauty of these tips is
that they can be applied to almost any relationship: parent,
child; teacher, student; landlord, lessee; even friends.
1. Communication is King
People expect others to know what
they're thinking far too often. I've seen it a million times. A
boss hires a new employee who can't perform up to speed with
everyone else. What's the boss do? Either he does the work for
the new hire and gets frustrated at his performance or just lets
him go. And all because the guy doesn't know the ropes.
An efficient employer however
might approach the new hire and ask if he needs help. He would
realize that someone with two months experience won't be as good
as someone with two years. He might talk with the employee and
go over standards and what's to be expected. Patience and
guidance are key here.
On the other end are employees. If you don't know something,
ask! Most people live in fear of their superiors and get angry
when they're reprimanded for not doing something correctly.
Often asking how you might do it better next time will dispel
your boss' cranky mood instantly. We have to remember that all
people are equal in essence even if their roles are not. Your
boss can be your friend.
2. A Workplace without Trust and Respect is a Garden Watered
with Battery Acid
A lot of employers, especially
small business owners, have been burnt in the past. They've had
that gal who stole supplies or funds, they've had that guy who
showed up late or not at all, or that one who wrecked the
company vehicle while under the influence. Hate to break it to
ya', but that's life. There's losers out there and you're going
to get a few. What will make or break you though is how you
respond in the long run.
Those bad apples are not the new intern. Remember that and
remember it often. If one of your employees is failing to show
up on time or perform well, try to be forgiving or understanding
-- at least initially. Show them you can be a friend and that
you care for them. Ask them what's going on. You never know, you
might have been in a similar situation at some point. Maybe you
Also, if an employee is offering additional skills, take
advantage. Too often employers are stubborn and neglect to
recognize the talent they have in their reins. If an employee is
shouting out for attention, pay attention. Otherwise you're
wasting your money -- not to mention losing it in terms of what
more your company could be doing. Step back, trust your workers,
and relax a little. There are far too many tasks that could
occupy your time to do work you've hired others to do.
And employees, always approach your employers with respect as
well. Be strong and confident in your suggestions, but never
come to them with an attitude. It puts a bad taste in your boss'
mouth. Approach whatever topic is on your mind subtly, maybe
even breaking the ice with some light conversation beforehand.
3. There are as Many Bad Employers as There Are Bad Employees
I can't tell you how many times I hear business owners complain
about how hard it is to find good help. All the while, these
same people fall into the bad mold themselves. They micro-manage
tasks designated for others, fail to provide an atmosphere in
which employees can learn and grow, and walk around with a
Step back and think about what you might be doing wrong first.
Do you foster a respectful and trusting environment or do you
hold baggage that hinders your employees? Do you communicate
with and instruct your employees or do you just get frustrated
and say, if you want it done right, gotta' do it yourself? Often
the problem isn't one sided.
Shoe on the other foot, how many employees grumble about not
getting paid enough for the work they do? How many people get
upset when their boss changes that report they slaved hours
over? How many can't stand how condescending or arrogant their
My question to people like this is: does your manager know? Have
you provided him or her with an argument and a list of reasons
why you think it's time for a raise? Have you leveraged your
options and looked elsewhere to take your talents when your boss
failed to respond effectively? Did you stand up to him and
defend your choices or let her know to consult you next time she
changes things around?
Now, I've used employers and employees as a point of reference
to talk about problems in the workplace. But these three simple
insights can be used in just about any situation. Whether you're
faced with a turbulent marriage, a kid whose acting out, or a
failing friendship, focus on the facts and wherever there's a
lack of communication, trust, and respect, you've found your
problem. And remember, most problems are two sided. Someone's
got to break the cycle before it gets better, otherwise the
divide will only get wider.