April 12, 2011

Leave Your Troubles At Home

By Paul Bieber

Yep, we all have problems at home. Older parents, kids growing older quicker than you comprehend, illnesses, financial or community problems. We all have them, you and your employees and staff. It is just that you can’t show or share your problems.

I wonder who first said, “It is lonely at the top.” They were correct.

When your staff has a problem, you should be aware of it, encouraging people in the company to come to you explaining what is happening in their lives. In many cases you can help…a change of a schedule, a shift in duties or a small loan may give you an opportunity to help. If an employee has a real crisis happening, their work output will suffer and while their minds are preoccupied, accidents occur!

You may have to suggest they take a day or a week off. If there is a serious illness involved, they may need more time, and the earlier you know of this, the better you can react to keep your company production on schedule. The federal FMLA law may come into play here, and this will be discussed in an upcoming blog.

The concept for today is that while you want to know about your people, you can’t share your woes with them. Most employees think you’ve got it made already, and they are working to make you money, so your problems are not as bad as theirs. Yes, this is a cynical point of view. If you have a problem that hurts the business, you are potentially hurting their livelihoods. If you solve personal problems while at work, then why can’t they?

Sure, on most days you are the first in and the last out, but that doesn’t count on the day you ask an employee not to spend so much time on the phone, when you have done the same thing.

Not fair. Right. But being in business is not about being fair. After all, in a good year you make a few more pennies than the others. (No excuses about not having a good year in the glass business recently.) You have to be the leader, and, leaders are supposed to be invincible.

With obvious situations, like an illness of your family member, you have to take the time and not care about the repurcussions. What I am talking about are the family squabbles, the refinance of your home(s), getting your boat in the water, and the things that say I have something that you don’t. You have to do this away from the office. I am not saying you shouldn’t have these things in your life. Just that the way to keep company peace is not to handle them in front of others who just might resent your taking care of them on business time when you should be managing the growth or reducing the problems of your company.