Relax, this isn’t going to be a rant about Donald Trump. I’ll leave that to the politico talking heads. This is about the two words that strike fear in the hearts of employees and business owners.
But before I do that, let me give you a little back story.
Before I became an entrepreneur I was an engineer with an unimpressive career. In the years I spent in that field I was fired and laid off. And I resigned and just flat out quit.
Like I said, my career was unimpressive. But, it gave me insight of what someone feels when they’re in these situations.
Early in my career I was fired from a job as a summer intern. Don’t worry it wasn’t a dramatic face-to-face showdown where the boss told me to pack my sh*t and go. I simply wasn’t invited to return the next summer to intern when all my friends where. This is a polite way of firing someone.
The worst one was when I was laid off. That really sucked! It completely blindsided me. Although now that I think about it, I deserved it.
The Truth Is
I was a TERRIBLE employee. I didn’t pull my own weight. I would milk the clock. And I would keep my boss in the dark about what was going on with my projects. THAT was a big no-no!
A boss can overlook slacking and milking the clock. But, when you make them look like a fool to their boss because they don’t know what you’re up to, that’s not good. But here’s the worse part.
I went to college. I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. And in all the classes I took not one of them prepared me for being a good employee. Obviously, I needed this training. Let me explain what I mean.
What I Needed Was
I needed someone to tell me about the little things. Things that are common sense that we think all employees know. Things like keeping your boss updated on what you’re doing. Staying busy and finding things to help with during your downtime, even cleaning.
The most important is to remember all the things you said you’d be willing to do when you were interviewed. Things like showing up early. Staying late to finish a project. And being a good team member.
Remember, these expectations don’t fade into the sunset. Nothing changes just because you’ve been on the job 2+ years, people expect you to keep up your end of the bargain.
This last bit of advice hit home for me this past week because I had to fire an employee. I took no pleasure in doing this, but it had to be done. Their attitude and behavior was effecting business.
You could even say that they fired themselves. We had counseled them many times about their attitude toward customers and co-workers. But things just got worse.
So A Change Had To Be Made
As business owners, there’s a lot of things that give us agita. That keep us awake at night. At the top of this list is having to fire someone.
Usually, we know when someone isn’t right for the job within a short time of them starting.
Unfortunately, a lot of us are reluctant to act. We hopes that they’ll turn their performance around if we give them more time. What no one ever tells us is that “hope” is a terrible business strategy.
Most of the time the employees that are doing a poor job know they’re doing a poor job and expect to be fired. You could say they see things more accurately than we do.
When you finally let them know it’s time to move on some will say they, “saw it coming” or “wondered when it was going to happen.”
If you’re an employee you might disagree that business owners care about their employees. Some of you might think that we’ll do anything to make money. And while that may be true of some of us, the majority is just trying to do right by everyone. “The boss” gets a bad rap in our society.
Boss vs. Business Owner
You see, there’s a huge difference between a boss and a business owner. In my experience the boss has been someone who works for the someone else, a fellow employee. Sometimes these fellow employees are overzealous in the doling out discipline. They don’t think twice before firing someone. But why?
Well, it’s usually a matter of self-preservation. They’re afraid that if they look bad because they can’t control their employees they’ll be the ones that get fired. Although it’s faulty logic, it makes perfect sense. Here’s why.
I empower my managers to take action and make decision. I don’t allow them to fire or discipline anyone without consulting me first. But I sure as hell don’t micro-manage them.
I tell them what my expectations are for them and tell them I’m going to hold THEM accountable. After that it’s usually a case of, “Don’t tell me how you’re going to kill the cow, just bring me the steak.”
So Now You Know
Business owners and entrepreneurs care deeply about their employees. A lot of them will do almost anything for them, because they’re like family. Some will even put the entire business at risk because they keep some around longer than they should.
I know the employee I fired this week will land on their feet. They’re young and they realized the mistakes they made that led to their firing.
Not all stories have a happy ending. But they’re all opportunities to learn something new. Sometimes, that’s the best we can do.
To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.