School started up this week. That’s not an excuse for not writing. Just a note on current affairs.
I went all last week without seeing my boss and have gone two days this week with her in the shop but focused on everyone else. I have decided that I can do things her way, even if I don’t think it is the best way. I just have to find a way to make it the best way. I have also decided that since she believes, rightly, that she should be addressed with a certain level of decorum, that she will receive that level of decorum all the time and not just when she is, hm, correcting me. I will not speak to her at all unless spoken to first. I will not inquire about her personal life (her health, her weekend activities, her up-coming trips) because that presumes an intimacy that should not exist between employer and employee. I will not share jokes with her or include her in any other the dialogue that happens between co-workers. I will not talk her about my personal life, except when it is relevant to work. I will respond to her whenever possible with “Yes, ma’am” or “No, ma’am” as the situation dictates. There will be no palling around, no elbow rubbing, no convivial companionship.
If any bosses are reading this, please hear some advice from someone who has had a wide variety of bosses.
1. We are not friends. Trying to be my friend means that we are on the same social level and that I am given allowances for behavior (using your first name, socializing outside of work, etc). Equality means you cannot tell me what to do. You can make suggestions, but you have no authority to dictate my actions.
2. Not being friends does not equal not being courteous. Corrections and instructions should be made respectfully and not at all in a tone that indicates that you consider your employees to be imbeciles. Be firm but respectful.
3. Respect is earned, not owed. When you forget that, your employees will start leaving in droves. The same goes for authority.
4. The need to micromanage your employees is an indication that you have failed as a leader. With efficient, consistent training, steady discipline, and positive reinforcement, your employees will be able to run the business under every day circumstances without you there at all. Your job is to keep the paperwork in order and deal with emergencies.
5. Correct all discipline problems on sight.
6. Welcome and encourage feedback from your employees.
7. Write down the rules. Whether it is the procedures for daily tasks, current store policies, or how to train personnel, write it down. Human memory is notoriously unreliable. It’s why you can have markedly different eye-witness reports from the same event. If you don’t mind having slight variances in how things happen (the order of tasks, specific methods, etc), only write down and post the important things, like rules that prevent your business from being shut down by the authorities. If you expect everything to be done exactly the same way by everyone, according to how you remember “how it’s always been done,” then WRITE IT DOWN. That way, if someone is doing it wrong, you can send them to the binder of rules. Otherwise, as soon as you leave, someone will invariably say that your way isn’t the way it’s always been done and you are just crazy and they will do the task their way because that’s how they remember being trained to do it.
8. When training new personnel, DON’T. Delegate training to managers, assistant managers or personnel you are training for management. You are the boss. Get back in your office. If you can’t trust your employees to train new personnel, you need to read #4 and #7 again. Furthermore, when the boss has to train new people, he is sending a clear message of distrust, thereby demoralizing the very people he expects to run his business. You are telling your managers/assistant managers that they are incompetent, that they don’t know their jobs well enough to explain them to new people, and that they don’t have the common sense to know what can be taught and what should wait.
9. Do not, under any circumstances, speak ill of your employees to new personnel. You under cut their authority as senior employees every time you imply that this is how it’s supposed to be done and, I don’t know why, but some people have gotten away from doing it this way. It sends a message that employees who have been working for you for years don’t know how to do their jobs. Demoralizing again. Also, it makes you look incompetent because clearly either you have no authority to maintain standards or you simply don’t know how to train people effectively.
10. Go to your office and answer the phones. Stay there. Your presence amongst the employees leads to anxiety which leads to mistakes. When you listen in to customer phone calls or stand around watching, people get flustered because no one wants to make a mistake in front of their boss. It may be lonely in the office, but that’s the price of being the boss.
Follow these guidelines and you will encourage loyalty, respect, and high standards. Ignore them and you will have to run everything by yourself because you better believe that no one will go out of their way for you. They might stay for the money, but only until they find a better (read: better paying) job. And then you will be screwed.