Quit Acting like an Employee - Take Ownership!
What makes an employee act like, well ... like an employee? Have our parents, schools, friends, not to mention even employers conditioned us to act like just an "employee?"
When we think of ourselves merely as employees, our expectations are generally low, regarding loyalty and anything more than an hourly wage. Whatever happened to taking ownership of our job or position, in order to help better the company; thereby, improving conditions, opportunities and salaries for all concerned?
What bill-of-goods have we believed that says, if we’re not having fun at our job, something must be wrong with the company and the owner?
At what point should employees begin to act more like OWNERS of the business in which they work? And why does an “employee” need legal ownership of an establishment to take on ownership responsibilities?
I contend that, since none of us will take anything with us when we exit this world, the word for employee should be STEWARD. Truth is, we are ALL just stewards on this planet! A STEWARD is someone who looks over and after someone’s legal property, with the same consideration, care, concern, attentiveness and guardianship as the legal owner.
Sharing the Burdens of a Business Owner
Before discussing how business owners should act, let me share a few responsibilities that business owners actually carry in today’s business climate.
Consider the following:
- When a customer rejects a large job or project, due to an error, the owner is usually the one who receives the fall-out from the customer. Additionally, a curse word or two from an irate customer, even some threats, may land on the owner. Generally, none of the employees ever gets to be part of this hopefully unique event.
- I suspect everyone is aware that business owners are liable, if an employee is hurt on the job. In fact, under certain circumstances, an owner can face imprisonment. At the very least, they can be sued for everything they’re worth, including their pants.
- When OSHA shows up for a surprise inspection, again owners are responsible for any infractions discovered during the audit. In fact, fines that could cost an owner his entire livelihood are in play. Sadly, it could be an infraction an owner had no clue was happening, due to a certain employee’s mismanagement, which is almost impossible to prove in a court of law.
- If there is a sudden downturn in the economy, many owners can lose their homes that many have risked in starting the business, or in keeping a business solvent during lean times.
- During the middle of the night, when the company’s burglar alarm goes off, who gets the call from the monitoring center? The owner is the one getting out of bed, driving to the office, interacting with police and doing a possible dangerous walk-through of the building.
- Are employees notified when the lease or note is overdue on the company’s building. Never happens! Again, it’s the owner.
Much of the burden comes off the owner when an employee steps up and takes real ownership of his or her part on the team!
I could go on and on about the hundreds of responsibilities business owners carry. In addition, I could write a book about the thousands of regulations that government heaps onto business owners. And again, ignorance of any of those regulations is not a good defense, if the business owner is not in compliance. Yes, the same government decides who IS and who AIN’T in compliance. Too often, it’s not in the owner’s favor. Sad, but true!
Sympathy for "The Devil" – The Business Owner
You may think I’m just trying to stir your emotions to gain sympathy toward business owners who, in many cases, are demonized by certain factions of society. However, that’s for another discussion!
In fact, just the opposite is true. I’ve been a business owner for many years and, yes, it was MY CHOICE! Yes, I risked the DOWN-sides to reap the UP-sides. So, truth is, I DON’T have "sympathy" for any business owner, including myself! But, I do EMPATHIZE with them, because I realize they carry a heavy load, and — as employers at least — they should have our utmost respect!
Employees expect owners to carry on with a smile, despite all those self-inflicted responsibilities. And it’s true — part of an owner’s responsibility is to be the best encourager for the team. Likewise, the team is responsible for encouraging others, including that “grumpy” old boss, now and then.
If you’ve read some of our blogs, you know I can be tough on business owners. The “Wimpy Bosses” article comes to mind! I insist business owners are responsible for the well-being of their employees; moreover, they should give them the tools and time to do their job, before holding them responsible for errors and miscommunications.
So, please don’t send emails about those “poor old employees”! I suggest that, due to many people scanning articles, instead of thoroughly reading, they will miss the true message here.
I’m aware there are business owners who can act like devils, but that has NOTHING to do with what I choose to do with my employment or stewardship.
I’m The Boss Of Me! (you might read that blog also). And, if the heat gets too hot, then I should leave a company if I believe my boss is a “devil.” However, I can’t use another person’s faults as an excuse for slacking or, God forbid, using the lame excuse, “I’m just an employee!”
How Should an Employee Act?
Again, before discussing how employees should act, let’s look at their actual responsibilities:
- They should come to work every day in a timely fashion, sober, bathed and cleanly dressed.
- Employees should adhere to ALL policies and procedures implemented by the company.
- They should negotiate for wages and benefits BEFORE accepting employment.
There are many more, but I think you get the point.
How Do many Employees Act? "As a person thinketh ..."
- When they find out someone has been given a raise, or is making more than they are, they will grumble, backbite, and cause dissension among other employees. Watch this YouTube Video for A Good Laugh! Monkey see…
- If the boss doesn’t pat them on the back when they think they deserve it, they often complain to others in the company about no one caring. They show little regard for what’s happening in the boss’ busy world; trying to keep the company going, and employees employed.
- They use their mobile phone to talk to spouses and friends during business hours and expect to get paid while doing that.
- So-called “team members” or “associates” want paid vacations when they want it, no matter what’s happening production-wise or financial-wise in the company. They expect Christmas bonuses even during tough times, and want them early enough to go shopping. As a matter a fact, they may expect some PAID personal time for those shopping days.
- Employees insist that the A/C is working well without fail; clean bathrooms that function with all the amenities. They want paid breaks for smoking and playing cards, but often take twice the time allowed. By the same token, they don’t want interruptions when a fellow employee has a question for them. They often see themselves as victims of circumstances, instead of masters of their own fate in a free country. MANY never consider a job as a gift or privilege. In fact, they consider themselves the gift to the company, even as they limit their contribution to the bare minimum.
No, not all employees act like “employees!” I’ve been privileged to work with many great ones!
When I was a child I THOUGHT as a child and acted as a child. As an “old-schooler,” I contend that the sooner we stop acting like “employees” and take more OWNERSHIP of the company in which we work, the sooner we grow!
If this shoe fits you, then I suggest you stop acting like an “employee!” With a little more THOUGHT, some “employees” may even grow up to be actual business owners.
Did I mention? Great systems work!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.