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Can you be their ‘Boss’ and their ‘Friend’?

bossfriendMy father has always owned several businesses. He is a genius when it comes to filling a need and providing a service with supreme excellence. He is a self taught man and does methodical research in every venture he goes after. You could seriously use the expression, “everything he touches turns to gold” with this guy.

I worked for dad in a few of his companies and whenever I was asked to fill managerial roles, he always told me this:  You can’t be their boss and their friend!

That phrase used to bother me. It’s one of the reasons I never took over any of his businesses and always moved on to do my own thing. I love people. I care about people. I like having relationships with people. It’s very hard for me to be the big bad boss and distance myself from social communication.

I understand where my dad is coming from to a certain degree. As a boss you need to make sure that your employees understand that their main role in the company is to be submitted under your authority and whatever you say goes. Sometimes when you get too chummy with a staffer, they may get a little ‘comfortable’ and not put in as much effort. Sometimes they may feel like they can get away with things another employee may not be able to pull because they’re tight with the big cheese.

On the other side of the coin, I believe that to get the most out of an employee, it’s imperative that you take an interest in their personal lives. I’m not talking about creepy, love interest kind of stuff. I’m talking about their health, their spouses’ job, how their kids are doing in school and the standings of their recreational softball team. Stuff like that.

And don’t make it just about them. Share something with them about your personal life. Show them that you trust their opinion or consider them important enough to trust them with some personal info. Don’t go overboard and pour out you’re whole heart all over their desk. You do have to still maintain a leadership role. But leaders go through things too. And it’s awesome for your team to see you overcome things at work and in your personal life.

If you genuinely care for your employees, I believe they will bring more effort and loyalty to you and your company. People want to be loved. Especially now-a-days when most of them were raised by video games and nannys.

But you have to be careful. You have to have a good balance because if you’re too friendly and your employee has come to a place where they feel like they are equals, when you ask them to perform a task, they may give you trouble. Or if you actually have to ‘be the boss’ and discipline them, things can get ugly here because the employee now has a little bit of a defensive, entitlement attitude. “Who do you think you are telling me what to do?!” I’ve been there before. It’s twisted. Right up to the point where the guy was so offended by me asking him to do his job that he filed for disability and tried to sue us for mental anguish. Thankfully, our insurance company found him out partying and living it up when he was supposed to be home on stress-rest, but it could have been very expensive.

Establish the guidelines right from the day employees are hired.  You can easily have a BOSS/FRIEND relationship which will keep the working environment friendly and the staff productive.  I believe if you keep your social office friendly, fun and within the guidelines of the law, your business will be very successful!

Go get ’em Tiger!


My Boss and the Bullet in My Head

bulletEmployers are constantly under fire, as of late, because modern day employees are so sensitive and easily offendable.

Calm down.  If you have an issue with my opening statement as an employee in today’s workplace, don’t fret. Maybe you’re different. However, if you truly were bothered by my experienced observation, chances are this post is probably about you.

I’m all for pushing management to be more encouraging, implementing policies that restrict racism, sexual harassment, dangerous work environments and crude language, but some stipulations in today’s state-regulated office space really are a bit over the top. So ridiculous in my opinion that today’s staffer has been inspired to only work in conditions where they are coddled. In fact, if pushed, they may be moved to file for disability on the grounds of mental anguish.

Well, what did you expect?  You asked them to do their job. The job they were hired to do.  How dare you?!

I’m not writing this post to criticize anyone that has truly been wronged on the job. If there is a true injustice being done at work, that’s not cool at all.  I’ve been a victim of very bad upper management handling before–on several occasions.  And each time, I handled the situation the same way I handle myself outside of the work place. I address the issue and see if we can work through it. If we can’t, I move on.

“But I need this job to take care of my family,” you may have just thought to yourself.

I get that.  I’m a husband and father who can’t afford to take a day off because we gotz more month than money! [Yeah, I know I said, “gotz”…I really wanted to drive the point home]

At a previous company I worked at, I was a supervisor in charge of decent size sales staff. I don’t mind tooting my own horn–I was a valuable asset for the company. Yes, everyone is replaceable, but in the nearly 3 years I was there, my name was attached to over 1.5 million dollars in sales. For this line of work, that’s an impressive figure.

The General Manager was cool, okay, well, some of the time. For the majority of other time, he was actually not-so-nice. He was the kind of guy that was light with compliments and heavy with criticism. He had a foul mouth, a condescending tone and truly was a walking HR nightmare.

One day he asked me to put together some figures for a friend of his that was considering buying something from us. I did the research, assembled the info and calculated all the numbers.  In a moment of innocent human error, I added a $500 rebate that didn’t apply to this situation.  When I brought him the quote that he could send to his friend he immediately noticed the error and wigged out.  I mean from 0 to 60 race car fast.

“There’s no $500 rebate available for this situation. Are you %#@ing kidding me, Wayne?,” he asked. “You make me want to put a bullet in your head!”

There were numerous other vile insults, curse words and top of lungs expressions that shook the whole building. Remember, this quote wasn’t even sent out yet. This was a no-big-deal, easy fix that he went nuts over.

I stared at him without saying anything.  Part of me was in shock that my employer just told me that he wanted to put a bullet in my head. The other part of me knew that if I reacted the way my flesh felt like reacting, I would probably be in jail just minutes later.

When I returned to my desk, people kept coming up to me to ask if I was alright. Even members of upper management came to make sure I was okay.  The thunder from my blunder had obviously shook the house.

Later in the day when things were calm, I returned to his office, popped my head in the door and asked, “So you want to put a bullet in my head, huh?”

Having a calmer nature about him and some time to reflect on his inappropriate words, he danced, “ugh, well, no, ugh what I meant was, you make me want to put a bullet in my own head.”

Yea, okay buddy.  Nice try.

I think that you’ll agree, no employer should speak to an employee that way. Especially when your employee is a member of management and a top producer for your company. And this isn’t the first time he wigged out on me with such a degrading tone. He did this kind of thing all the time.

In the case of the bullet in the head incident, I think it’s fair to say, I had a valid labor board complaint. I’m gonna go as far as saying that I probably had a winnable law suit. Heck, there may have even been criminal charges brought down had I reported it.

So, what did I do?

I did my job with excellence and continued to work at a high level until such time that I was able to find another job.

That’s what I always do, in business or personal.  Sure there are times when the courts serve a purpose. There are situations that are so extreme that acting on legalities is the only way to go. However, most of the time, you can just choose to walk away. Avenging your offended pride is usually more headaches then satisfaction and the end to the story isn’t always happy.  It usually just adds more stress to your life and it could make it harder to find future work as word spreads through your industry that you’re “that guy or girl”.

On the other side of the coin, don’t quit your job because you have an issue with respecting authority. If a supervisor gives you assignments, tasks and responsibilities that match the job description you agreed to fulfill, drop the entitlement persona and take on an attitude of good work ethic, appreciation, integrity and diligence. Be the best at whatever it is they ask you to do even if you hate their guts. Smile, show up on time, play by the rules, work hard, volunteer for overtime (whether you get time and a half of not) and help all the co-workers around you.

Be known as a company man, a team player and act like you own the place. That kind of employee eventually does own the place.