I decided to share this post knowing that there are so many people out there who are going through or might go through some of the things that I have experienced as a boss. One thing I’m glad about is that I do not have any regrets whatsoever. This is because, the mistakes I’ve made in the past and the losses I’ve encountered have made me stronger… and wiser too. I work hard everyday, towards making better choices and getting better results.
I’ve always known there is a leader in me; however, it was more of a dream most part of growing up. Being in a position of authority can be such a roller coaster if you are unprepared for it. Apart from being a natural leader, I have been opportune to attend some leadership training/seminars, which, though not enough, have been bedrock for my achievements so far. I naturally am not one to struggle for leadership, actually what works best for me is leadership by appointment, not unnecessary campaigning and acting hypocritical, just to get people’s validation (or vote) in order to attain a leadership position. As a boss, I have been hated, scorned, insulted, verbally abused, etc., as much as I have also had some loyal ones who see the good in me despite what other people think.
Now, about those mistakes, before we proceed, you must understand or better still, have it at the back of your mind that no matter what you do, not all your subordinates will be pleased with you. Hence, your biggest mistake will be trying to be someone else (will elaborate). So here are some mistakes I have made in the past, which I think you should totally avoid as a boss…especially, if your business is at its start-up stage. They make up the top seven lessons I have learnt so far as a boss;
1. DO DRAW A LINE BETWEEN SENTIMENTS & PROFESSIONALISM: I once had this staff that I really liked, not that she was spectacular, but I just liked her. However, on the long run, I discovered that she started challenging my instructions or got angry anytime I confront her with an unacceptable behaviour, but that didn’t stop me from doing the needful. I realised that no matter how close you become with a staff/colleague, ensure you both do not cross the boundaries of your profession. In details, I mean, scold when you need to scold, sanction when you have to and fire when you need to. Once your staff begins to cross their boundaries, enforcing rules becomes a big challenge, which will eventually translate to reduced productivity.
2. DON’T MAKE ANYONE FEEL INDISPENSABLE: I am totally a culprit of this. I had one staff whom I thought was loyal due to how he is always available whenever he is called upon, always acting humble and all… I say acting because, by the time I realised what was his game plan was, the damage had gone so deep…though we recovered, but I learnt this lesson. As much you appreciate a ‘seemingly’ good staff;
· Do not over-praise
· Do not place anyone on a pedestal
· Discipline WHEN YOU NEED TO
Note that I used “seemingly”, this means do not trust anyone, no matter how loyal and committed they seem. In my experience, I have seen that people can pretend around you for years, just to get something. You also need to follow…some will call it ‘your instinct’, I say, I listen to the Holy Spirit (if you believe). Whenever they are up to something, He will always notify you. I always know when they are up to something, always.
“…People can pretend around you for years, just to get something.”
3. DO LOOK BEYOND THE INITIAL SMILES: Do you remember how smiley and humble they look when they come for interview at the initial stage? Good. Do not focus on that. Be as thorough as you need to be during interviews. Ask the questions you need to…avoid being intimidated by an applicants educational qualifications because sometimes, they know nothing…or have very little to offer. They usually appear very humble and willing to do anything for your business. This brings me to the next point.
4. DO REMEMBER THAT ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER THAN VOICE: Always engage your new applicants in life application processes before confirming their appointments. This means that, you do not take them by their words. I had a case once, where this applicant’s CV narrated what s/he can do with kids…after several months, we didn’t see him/her do squat! …no outstanding performance. They often come with many promises of loyalty and diligence, nevertheless, be very thorough with your supervision and ensure work is being done. Depending on what business you are running, you can organise or put them through series of training in preparation for the job, to enable them have a first hand experience of what they will be doing on the job. This helps both you and the applicant decide on whether s/he is good for the job or not.
5. DO NOT OVER-LOOK THE EARLY WARNING SIGNS: Time without numbers, I have ended up firing a staff due to initial warning signs or they quit impromptu, proving my suspicions right. Now you may ask, what early signs? These are character traits applicants/new employees display during interviews or at the early stage of appointment. These traits include, but are not limited to; late coming, forgetfulness, inability to communicate intelligently, salary expectation is way higher than what you intend to pay, excuses; they are still in school, etc. Once you notice any of these signs, do not ignore them. Even when you still hire that person, always have a back-up.
6. DO NOT ADD YOUR STAFF ON PERSONAL SOCIAL MEDIA SITES: As much as we call it social media, it is also a personal space. Your social media friends/followers should constitute either people who are really close to you or acquaintances. To add your staff as friends or accept them is you opening yourself and your business up for anything…but in this case, usually something detrimental to your business. You may seem proud, selfish, and insensitive and any other adjective they might want to use in describing you, but trust me, you are better off with out all those disgruntled employees, looking for a way to get back at you for some work-related issues. So from, instagram, facebook, etc. except it is a professional site, make yours a “NO STAFF OR EX-EMPLOYEE” zone.
7. DO LIMIT YOUR STAFF ACCESS TO YOUR HOME: I would say, make it impossible if possible. No matter how cool or close you think a staff may be, except in the case of a P.A. or secretary whose job description requires so, do not allow them access to your home. If they surprisingly show up, work them out or better still, do not allow them in (depending on their reason for showing up). If you are organising events that you hope to invite a staff, make sure it is something that can be held in locations other than your home. If any of them eventually find the place, do not be receptive about entertaining them, if not, you may begin to get unwanted visits that will demean your personality. In Nigeria, we call it, “see me finish”, that is when people have seen and known more than they should about you, which eventually results to insults/ridicule/ and such like. Trust me, you do not want that!
These are the most prominent on my list for now, however, also have it at the back of your mind that no matter what you do, every now and then, you will meet/see a staff that hits you with some wicked…or rather selfish/unreasonable experience…which you will add to your DOs/DON’Ts list.
One thing is certain, once you are positive and have your mind fixed on success, no one can stop you, no matter how hard they try!
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