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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Am a What?

I once had a boss that would provide input to questions in a highly political manner.  His advice often allowed for multiple interpretations depending on the mood you were in that day.  It became difficult to follow the directions, but he was skilled and a good manager.  The difficulty was in communication to the staff not in the quality of the directions, assuming you figured out what they were.  Eventually, I learned to interrogate the boss to clarify and narrow down on the actions or suggestions.  I may have appeared as more aggressive, but it was necessary.

In running a company, I always had to keep expenses down as well as hold on to equity and not distribute it like candy.  This was my fiduciary duty.  Employees always wanted higher pay or more options.  For me, finding balance was not easy.  Giving out too much would not be good management, giving out too little make me look cheap.  Bet you can guess how I managed things.  I learned to use the political speak of my former boss to keep people in check.  So what if I was cheap and unclear!

Working with contractors and keeping fees low was also part of duties.  Never mind that contractors learned that fee reductions resulted in lower level people working on the assigned tasks.  The company paid lower fees.  So what if it took longer to get tasks done or that they were not to the desired standards.  At least it appeared to cost less, sort of.  Guess I never took into account the fact that quality and overruns may have evened out the lost capital for the contractors.

The above partly applies to me, but it covers so many entrepreneurs in startups, I wanted to stress the point without naming names.  In your startup, do you provide clear definitive instructions?  Do you hold a quarter so tight the “Eagle Screams?”  There is a balance and you need to find it early in the company’s development.  Your employees are discussing you and your management style, or maybe complaining about you and your style.  Maybe you have a complete lack of style!

Do not be surprised when one day someone says you are an ASS; they most likely have been calling you that behind your back for a long time.  You may respond, “I Am a What?”  Realize that how you present yourself to others will define how everyone believes you will behave.  You may be the greatest person and care about all those you work with, but failing to act that way will cause partners or employees to eventually desire to work elsewhere.  You need their best work and you need dedication!

Try striking balance in your business dealings.  You want your partners and employees to perform with enthusiasm and deliver quality.  You want them to be advocates of the company, not seek other places to work.  How you behave around all those you meet or work with will send a clear message.  Make sure it is the message you want delivered.