People are the life of every company. They are the ideas and the talent. They create the atmosphere, and they bring the personality. People make companies interesting.
At the center of this community is the boss. Bosses supervise their people. They can either make or break their employees depending on how they choose to run their company.
It was just my luck to come across a boss who did everything a boss should never do.
The company I worked for had for years distributed spa products to local beauty salons, establishing a customer base built on door-to-door sales, mail-order catalogs, pricey classified ads and word-of-mouth. When the company finally decided to go online to expand their customer venue, I was hired as a tech-savvy student who was expected to contribute young and fresh ideas to combat the task of promoting the company through social media, email marketing, and web advertising.
When this traditional business resolved to go online, I shot mental fireworks into the sky above company headquarters – it is, after all, an exhilarating phase for any company.
The problem was I was the only employee in the newly-furnished web marketing department. And my single-handed goal was to build enough brand presence to sell to major distributors like CVS, Rite Aid, Sephora, or Costco. Now, when I was hired, I was pretty optimistic about the job, but I always doubted whether or not I’d meet my incredibly severe deadline.
It takes years to build nationwide brand presence. My boss wanted me to do it in a short three months, as if the Internet were a magical key he could use to unlock into fame.
Of course it could never be done.
The company’s products were not new, or in-style, or in high demand. Good quality, but no Crème de La Mer. Yet he still pushed for it, as if it were something attainable. When things didn’t seem to be working according to plan, the employees took the brunt of his annoyance. My boss had an unreasonable standard. He set too high an expectation for any small, inexperienced, and understaffed company. When his goal was not reached, it was not his, but always his employees’ fault.
Sometimes an idea is perfect, but not well-executed. And sometimes a plan is skewed in the first place. Bosses can’t refuse to take the blame simply because they’re bosses.
After a short three months, my initial excitement hit stone-cold bottom. I had no further drive left to pursue my goals, and I would never want to work for them again.
The last thing a boss wants to do is demoralize his employees. Employees devoid of motivation translate into lethargic atmospheres, less contribution, and a lull in sales – all symptoms of an overbearing boss.
There is also the issue of trust in the workplace. I was hired, given a position and a task, but was never allowed to fulfill it myself. Everything–from a new comment on the company blog to the tiniest grammatical correction on a product description–had to be reported to our micro-manager. My coworkers and I were under a magnifying glass nine hours a day.
It was like a highway littered with stop signs, police cars stationed at every half-mile – it would be impossible to get anywhere. These excessive checkpoints can only impede progress and result in unsatisfied employees and employers.
There was a short time during my three months in which I loved my work. I never realized working in marketing could be so engaging. I didn’t know much about it at first, of course, but while I was working the time never lagged and in the morning I had something to look forward to.
It was fun. Really fun.
I wished I could have kept up that drive throughout the entire summer, but a one-person support team isn’t much of a support team. Two would have kept it up a little better, and an entire company would have never let it fall.
Throughout the entire experience, I was always thinking that if I were ever a boss, I would never do what my boss had done to his company. I’d respect my employees’ opinions, and encourage their ideas. I would never underestimate the competition in the market. Keeping up the motivation of my employees would always be my top priority.
The first thing I would do to connect with my employees. Sit with them. Talk with them. Find out if they have kids, or where they went on vacation last summer. What they like and dislike, discover their strengths and weaknesses. Understand their greatest assets and, ultimately, how to use them to the greatest benefit of my company.
It’s the kind of attention I would have appreciated.