You And Your Crew

I’ve had the pleasure — even displeasure, if we wanna keep it real — of working for a number of small companies; small business owners.  And I’ve taken every lesson I’ve learned from each employer into my own business.  I’ve watched them studiously as they conducted business, formed relationships and grew — and I’ve retained as much as could about all they were doing right and much of what they’re were doing wrong.   And it seems like whenever employees are introduced into a growing established company, problems arise.  In other words, people make things crazier —who knew!  But the important takeaways that I gathered about owners and their employees were:

  • Hire people who have the potential to grow as your company grows and not just someone looking to fill the position.  Hell, with the right training, anybody can do a job.  That’s how most people got to the jobs they have now — by being trained, or taught or schooled, or whatever you want to call it.  But ambition to grow — that’s not something you can teach, that’s inherently in select individuals.  Hire those folks.
  • Keep your word.  I remember a company I use to work for; we were a staff of 14 people including the owner of the company.  For some reason, we were  unable to have our annual holiday party in December, so the owner decided to move it to January and call it an “Employee Appreciation Dinner”.  The date was set for the middle of January.  Well, when  January came and gone, we started to passive-aggressively joke about how little we were appreciated because there was no mention of the dinner anymore.  Although it was just a dinner, people became a little resentful of the fact they were promised something and it wasn’t delivered. Deliver or don’t promise, but you can’t do both.
  •  Know what the gossip’s about.  I don’t care how small a company is, there’s always  gossip.  And 9 times out of 10, it’ll be about you, the owner.  So as they owner, know what’s floating around the office.  Check in with each employee on a regular basis.  Create an atmosphere in which your employees can feel comfortable with approaching you with what they need to make your business better.  You might even find that the open-door policy reduces the noise of gossip.
  • Say what you mean.  No one’s a mind reader. I don’t believe mind readers are mind readers.  And neither are your employees.  Don’t have them guess what you’re thinking or try to figure it out.  If you don’t know what you mean, they don’t know.  And don’t punish them for not knowing.  That’s so dumb.
  • Be the first with a greeting.  I know it sounds trivial, but you’ll be surprised how sensitive people are in the work place.  Not receiving a hello from their boss in the morning can start the day off all wrong.  Listen, I said nothing about being buddy-buddy.  I said say, ‘hello’, ‘good morning’, ‘good evening’ or whatever the time of day calls for.  This goes along with acknowledging your employees.  You may not be saying ‘job well done’, but a ‘hello’ can simply translate into ‘hi, thanks for coming in today and giving me your time today’.

Listen — the people that work for you are your crew.  They’re there building your dream.  They don’t have to be there.  They could be working for someone else who doesn’t mind showing them a little appreciation.  You have a relationship with your employees, no matter how badly you’ve neglected it.  And just like any relationship, it’s about the little things.

3 Of The Worst Words Used In Business




These by far are the worst words use by people in business and yet, they use them everyday.   And then they have the audacity to wonder why they’re stressed out about the economy, worried about their businesses or continuously contemplate going back to work for someone else.  It’s because they haven’t eliminated these three words from their vocabulary.  At the very least, reduced how often they used these words.

Job is probably the worst word on the list (hence, why it’s at the top).  Nobody likes their job. I’ve never heard  the word “job” used in a positive light unless it pertained to someone getting a better job (in which they’ll soon learn to hate) or they just got a job after being out of work for so long.  Those that do like their jobs, don’t think of it as a job, but part of their careers.  Their minds are set on building careers, not job-hopping.  Now, why as business owners would we care about jobs?  We’re self-employed.  We left our 9 to 5 jobs for something we believed was better.  But we’ll be — if we’re not already there — in a position to offer jobs; put people to work.  With all the hard work and sacrifices we’ve made to get our businesses up and running, do we really want to give someone a job in our company knowing there’s a high chance they’ll hate working for us or the company because it’s just  a job to them?  Skills gets someone a job, while talent creates careers.  Focus on recruiting talent.

Can’t.  Such a crippling word.  If we had a dollar for how many times we said “can’t” we wouldn’t need to be in business for ourselves.  But you don’t make money from can’ts.  There’s a lot of things we CAN’T do because we’ve already told ourselves we can’t.  But, what it we could?  What if we replaced “can’t” with “why haven’t we?” How many external “can’ts” have we’ve heard and endured?

  • You can’t start a business without money
  • You can’t go into business without education
  • You can’t be successful without being mean
  • You can’t trust people once you’re in business
  • You can’t rely on everyone to support your business

Which of these can’t have we’ve already disproved?  Can’t.  A useless word.   Anything that doesn’t offer value needs to be removed.

Money.  This is a frequently used bad word for all the wrong but common reasons.  I even used it when talking about “can’t”.  And that’s how bad “money” is.  It always creeps up.  Whether you’re talking about it with your bookkeeper, banker, investor, spouse or thinking it to yourself, money always creeps in.  Why?  There never seems to be enough of it.  Money goes out more than in comes in.  That creates bouts of worry.  Will we have enough money to make it to the next quarter?  Is there enough money to keep the business open?  Where is the money going to come from to pay this month’s notes and bills?  Money, money, money!  What we need to learn to do is focus more on resources than money.  We already know money comes and money goes, but resources, we can stockpile (oh, yeah, we can!).   There are a number of free and quality resources out there to help us better our businesses with little to no money.  We just have to know — or know someone who knows — where to look.  Money is a tool, not a force.

Just three little words and yet, behind them, they hold so much power that they create emotional stress, uncertain and doubt.  Are you going to let three little words doom your business or make a fool out of three little words?



The Gossip Truth

Water Cooler GossipI don’t care what company or organization you visit, there’s always the water cooler gossip. Half truths spread around co-workers and colleagues as a way to pass the time, stay engaged with one another or start unnecessary fires.  And the smaller your enterprise is doesn’t guarantee you’re exempt from gossipers or that your employees won’t be gossiping. People like to know what’s going on, particularly, about the activities that affect their jobs and income.  When left in the dark, they take what little bits of info they find and they run with it.  But unlike a bigger organization or corporation, as a smaller company, you have the power to put an end to most of the gossip that floats around the office and kills productivity.

One of the biggest culprits behind gossiping is misinformation.  Maybe one of your employees was standing by your office door listening in on a conversation they probably shouldn’t have.  Maybe the they think the new hires are in fact replacements.   Whatever the pieces they pick up are, no matter how poorly they fit together, don’t be surprised if they become truths in the eyes of your staff.  They think what they think because they haven’t been informed.  Whenever you catch wind of something that’s going around the office that isn’t true, address it — immediately.  There’s no need to let half-truths pollute the work environment.  Clashing personalities will do that all by themselves.  If the information is highly confidential and many of your employees aren’t privy to it, filter out what they don’t need to know.  And if you let them know that there are bits of that information they cannot know about, but it doesn’t endanger the company or their place.  Keeping your employees in the dark too often for too long can hinder business, not help it.

Share what you can as often as you can.  With the information your employees are allowed to know about, be an open book about it.  Have weekly meetings (but keep them short), send emails or memos.  Let your employees feel like they’re more than just a screw or bolt in the machine that is your business.  Make them feel like a vital instrument that helps it run smoothly by sharing helpful details about the company, concerns and direction the business is headed in.

Remember those clashing personalities?  Separate them.  I know we’d like to think that grown folks can be professional on the job despite their differences, but sometimes they can’t.   And the last thing you need to worry about is calling the police to escort former employees off the premises (sadly, I’ve seen this happen).  If two or more employees cannot work together and cannot work out their differences, don’t make them to do so.  Instead, keep their projects separate as well as their team associations.  If they share similar roles and responsibilities, break up the joint task in multiples and assigned each one their own.  Conflicting employees can do more than spread gossip, they can lower the moral of  your cooperative employees and create division in your company.

Your reputation and name are not just important outside the doors of your company (real or otherwise), but they matter just as much within the company.  Don’t let misinformation, clashing personalities and gossip pollute your business from the inside out.