You don’t care!

For once, this was the cry of an employer to their employees rather than then other way round.

The full story runs a little bit like this:

The employer runs a small business, with eight staff – 6 out on the road and a couple of office based administrators. Like many small businesses, my colleague has taken a bit of a hammering over recent months as the economic disaster we call home really began to take its toll.

He’s let staff go, slashed costs wherever he can and is working a million hours a week, just to make ends meet in this really difficult time.

It has to be said that he’s not being overly helped by his admin people. Recently mistakes have cost him a couple of decent sized clients, making matters ever more difficult. And yet, when he went through the performance management process he was met with shrugging shoulders and an outstretched hand looking for a pay cheque.

I may have exaggerated that last paragraph, just a little.

The point is, though, he can’t seem to get his staff to realise the desperate straits the business finds itself in and he was asking me what he could do to get it into his employees thick skulls that they really should be paying as much attention to his customers as he is… after all, their pay depends on the business coming in through the door. And it’s not as though it’s ‘easy come, easy go’ anymore. Jobs are hard to come by!

Anyway, that was the basis of his rant to me and I kind of see the point.

I gave him the usual line that us HR types give in these situations:

  • He has to share everything that’s going on in the business, openly and honestly and, more importantly, regularly. I f he doesn’t the message soon fades.
  • He has to show his team flexibility so they are prepared to show him some flexibility in return.
  • He has to fair in all his dealings with them so they are fair to him in the way they look after his business.
  • He must be clear about the standards he expects from them and he has to explain these standards regularly. If standards aren’t adhered to, then it’s straight to performance management.
  • He has to role model the standards, consistently and forever. He cannot have an off day.

‘And will this do the trick?’ He asked me. ‘Will this make them care about my business as much as I do?’

Well, yes and no. Actually, no.

No-one will ever care about his business as much as he does. All he can do is make his team care about their jobs by being a good boss.

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