In this story, I won’t disclose the company’s name or even in which industry it conducts its business, as it is of no importance. What I would like to share with you is a smaller dispute that I have recently had with our business partner who made inconsiderate comments about my employees. He accused them of not playing by the rules when they had worked for him and he warned me that the same could happen to me.
Naturally, his words made me think about the situation, all the more so because I was happy with the job the employees were doing for me. They were real professionals and while I have good managerial skills, I couldn’t do without their profound knowledge of the relevant industry. Besides, they had contacts and know-how that I would otherwise need to build for decades and before they came, no one else in my company had such assets.
On that opportunity an old story came to my mind. When I was a novice entrepreneur, a businessman from the construction industry suggested I open a branch in a city where I lived at that time. From the very beginning I had an odd feeling that turned into euphoria on the day when I travelled to sign a collaboration agreement with him.
Halfway of my journey, I pulled over near a forest, took a walk and made up my mind. “This is not the way to go, I want to be an entrepreneur myself, manage people, take risks, make money, even with the risk of losing it,” I thought to myself. Simply said, I wanted to be the master of my business, time and life. No one would dictate me what to do and what I am allowed to. Moreover, I didn’t understand the construction business. I drove back home and called the guy to apologize and explained him what led me to make that decision.
I thought about the mentioned colleagues in this light and came to a conclusion that it all comes down to motivation. In their previous job the owner changed his decisions almost every single hour and the company couldn’t function properly, leave alone any constant growth.
They had no future granted and worked under constant pressure and stress. Employee motivation that generally works is the reputation and size of their employer, salary and/or praise as well as the employer understanding their life situation.
Naturally, this is rather the case with ordinary employees, not with top managers who are expected to deliver high expertise, contacts and knowledgeable decision making. I believe that with top managers you need to take interest in their life and family situation, in particular, whether they are happily married, if they have children or they are expecting, what their costs of living are and especially what goals they want to achieve.
Someone wants to have a good and sure job, a nice car, a house and lead a happy family life without having to think twice if they can buy various things, go out for dinner or invite their friends for a drink. Others may be motivated by a vision of acquiring a share in the company and becoming part of its growth and development.
Once you realize this you know what to do if you want your managers to stay in your company. Give them what they want and what they long for and you get a win-win situation (though exceptions exist). Having said that, I don’t suggest that you don’t need to monitor or check them. That way you’d never become a good risk buster.