Who is really my boss and what the heck are they judging me on?
This is one of the most common complaints I hear in my multiple one-to-one private interviews with staff when I make my first onsite visit to a new consulting client’s shop.
Part of my agreeing to come and help is I make it clear to the owner that I must be free to have one-to-one interviews with a decent size sampling of the staff. I also make it clear that I will not report back to them about any specific thing one employee says so they can feel safe to tell me what I need to know about what’s going right and what’s going wrong.
This allows me to come and do my best work that benefits the owner, the staff and the customers they serve.
I do these interviews in a safe place where staff members can feel free to tell me what the boss may not know about or may not want me to know. Either way, I need to know or I can’t help.
There are at least two sets of opinions and views at every company. One is the owner’s view of things and one is the employees’ view of things.
My dad had a great saying, “Your view of things depends on where you’re standing on the bridge.”
What I know is that we’re all human and we see things through our eyes and our set of values no one is totally right and no one is totally wrong. Often the truth lies somewhere in between.”
The two types of companies that enlist my help are a company that has grown fast and is now wildly out of control and needs systems to get a handle on things or a small company that realizes they can’t grow out of the box they’re stuck in without systems that allow them to leverage themselves and begin sensible growth. Either way, they both typically shares a number of key flaws:
- There is no Organizational Chart that spells out who a staff member reports to and who they can go to for help. Without a good Org. Chart, there is also no way to show a staff member where they can rise to in the organization which is a powerful thing. Note: Without this spelled out, most employees tell me they feel like everybody at the company acts like their boss and there is no path to advancement so it leaves them frustrated and stuck.
- There are no written policies and procedures so employees do what they think the boss wants and then they get yelled anyway because they’re not mind readers.Note: The staff feels that there is no objective measurement of their performance so most times they feel no need to take on responsibility because the result is based on the subjective whim of their boss rather than the objective.
- There are no objective standards like photos that show what the company standard for things like dress, clean truck, is covering the flooring at a customer’s home and even how the actual work gets done. Especially problematic on big ticket installation type work.
How do you turn the corner and fix this?
- Create written policies and procedures. Keep them short and to the point. Most if not all should be typically one page or less. Long-term you want to create comprehensive manuals vs. a loose collection of memos and notes.
- Build an Org. Chart that spells out who really is in charge, who those that report to this person can go to for help and where a staff member can rise to.Note: A Depth Chart which builds on an Org Chart also lists who is 1 st string and 2 nd string and so an owner, can know where they’re weak and strong when it comes to key positions.
- Take the photos of staff members dressed per the specifications of your policies and procedures along with photos of a clean and neat looking truck and anything else that would result in an inane discussion about what is or isn’t in compliance.Note: A great thing to do on your routine big ticket installs is to make a photo story book that lays out the key number of steps and their sequences so anyone who gets trained will know what they should be doing and how their work will be judged.
Finally, bring it all together with ongoing meetings that reinforce these standards and leverage these objective tools. If you do, your company will be poised for growth and profit and your workplace morale will soar. That happens in part because as you all come together to work on the rules you’ll play by you’ll often discover a better, cheaper and/or faster way to get things done that are in alignment to your objective standards.