It was the classic reply I’d heard many times. “Can you just focus on your job?”
“Of course I can,” I replied, “but as I said in my interview, I didn’t come on board to be number two in our industry.”
She snapped back, “I’m the owner, and you’re the manager! I hired you to do a job, not to do mine.”
I responded, “Times are different now, and you need to listen to me!”
“What do you mean,” she says.
“We can’t go about this like we used to back in the day. We need a framework, so we can have some predictability.”
She replied, “But everyone knows how to do their job. There’s no need to do that tedious “structure” stuff.”
“I understand, but if you want your business to experience explosive growth, then we have to!”
Still defensive, she said “We’ve been here 15 years, and it’s always worked for us.”
“So what happens when a new employee gets hired? Do we spend all of our time and energy training them the old way, even though modern times requires us to be more streamlined?”
“Didn’t we hire you to train people” she replied.
“No! I yelled. “You hired me to add value to your company, and to grow your business. Not to spin my wheels, and waste my energy.”
Sitting up in her chair, she replied, “We’re not a big corporation. Why are you trying to make us like one?”
“I know we’re not a big corporation, but why do you think they’re the ones growing, and we’re still where we were 10 years ago?”
“Hold up,” she says. “What do you mean?”
Standing up to leave the office, I say, “These employees will never work hard enough to meet customer’s minimum demands if can’t see how they fit within your business picture. There’s nothing for them to reference, and there’s no consistency for them to build off of. Do you really think they’ll ever give you good enough ideas for you to grow if there’s nothing for them to lean on?”
Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures
With all of the technology in today’s world, how do the small businesses harness the talent of today’s entry level employee? If today’s business success depends on their employee’s suggestions, how do we get the best from them?
How do small businesses structure for our new Millennial generation? That new guy who can identify the concept before his manager has made their point. That employee who knows there are so many other options to choose from, they can show up late…and get away with it. How do we explain the complex combination of business mechanics and leadership to a generation who “knows it all?”
If today’s employees can have an adventure on their cellphone, and explore the world in just one click, where’s that same adventure in the work place? If we can’t keep up with their high frequency of emotional stimulation, do we really think they’re going to slow down for us? No, they’ll simply find a business that can. It’s not the same as back in the day where we commanded compliance, and told our employees to just “trust us.” This explosion of technology has robbed small business owners of their own reigns, and their own speed. If managers fight their employees for control, they’ll find a different boss. If you let them steer completely, they’ll run themselves(and you) off a cliff.
Today’s employees know the playing field is level now, and they can effectively demand excellence from their leaders. Times have changed, and we can do one of two things to welcome this sudden shift in the workforce. We can fight for the reigns, or we can learn how to share them. We can try to convince our employees they don’t know what they’re talking about, or we can show them how their view isn’t the only perspective for success. It’s the simple mind shift from operating your business for your employees to operating it with them.
Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures
It’s as simple as providing a written down structure for people to lean on. The framework of what to do, and when to do it. Today’s employee craves this type of structure, and leans on it like a man leans on his cane. Today’s non human structures are essential to bring our employees to life.
Have you ever walked into a business where the owner understands this type of employee? Do you notice how they are placed more carefully, perform better, and treat their customers with a higher respect? Do you notice how they move hastily for their boss, and their words are full of life?
Employees want to be effective in your business, one shift at a time. They want to know what their special addition to your vision is. They want to learn from you, but only from a common ground. This is why having a framework is crucial.
“What do you expect will happen when we get this up and running,” she said.
Before I closed the door to the office, I replied, “Wait and see! There’s nothing more rewarding, and exhausting than to have engaged employees adding to your vision and continually giving you ideas. You’ll need a structure to lead this kind of momentum. Unless you want to grow a meager 10% every year, you need this kind of employee to be competitive in today’s market.”