Monday, March 5, 2012

Good Advice: The 5 Qualities of Remarkable Bosses

Check out Jeff Haden's article in Inc. on The 5 Qualities of Remarkable Bosses. All solid advice. I'd say his second point "Deal with problems immediately" should be expanded--"Deal with most things immediately". Now, that doesn't mean allow other people's priorities to become your own, but the less you put off, the more will be cleared off your desk, and the less there will be to distract you. As a correlate, anything that you don't deal with within a week, should likely be set aside, marked read, archved, or what have you. If you think of it again in a month, deal with it then; if not, let it go, it's not that important.

A few months ago, I made a tough decision to fire an employee for the first time. Haden's third point "Rescue your worst employee" is out of sync with the common line that as an entrepreneur you never lament firing someone too soon. Haden's point is that it serves you, the employee, and the business well to work on mentoring and coaching, with the concession that "sometimes it won't work out" but "the effort is its own reward."

In the case a few months ago, I had an employee who'd been with the firm for nearly two years. He's a likable guy, smart, funny, pleasant. But he just wasn't delivering. In fact, problems had emerged almost from the start of his employment. Did I wait too long to fire him? I don't think so. He made contributions to the company, albeit far less than he was capable of, and the experience taught me a great deal about mentoring and leadership, and what to expect from employees, and how to ask for it.

I'd like to think that I am a stronger entrepreneur for having worked with him, the company has grown, and that believe it or not the former employee gained both valuable experience and increased self-knowledge. It's like breaking up with a lover after a couple years. You don't have to regret the time and energy expended in order to understand that the time has come to an end.

As Carole King sang:

There'll be good times again for me and you
But we just can't stay together, don't you feel it, too
Still I'm glad for what we had and how I once loved you

I think it's important as entrepreneurs not to forget our humanity. I like Haden's view that we should always remember from whence we came, and be gracious.

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