a meaningful note

December 9, 2012

Sometimes when I have conversations with people, they have all sorts of things to say about their work and their bosses. Usually, it ends with an I hate my boss!.

A couple years back, I’d probably nod sympathetically and totally understand. But now after being in that position myself, I now know it’s sometimes a very biased statement and one thing a lot of people don’t know; the hardest job to have is a business owner.

Employees don’t have the stress of making sure all paychecks are paid, no stress of handling all sorts of characters, no frustration when your employees aren’t committed, no stress of sustaining the company. At the end of the day, if it doesn’t work out for them, they can pack up their bags and go to the next company. So before you diss your boss, have some consideration that you don’t hold the burden that he or she has.

Dean and I are pretty lucky because the team behind us is a pretty awesome one. We work hard but we have loads of fun together, and it’s pretty rare. I hear all sorts of horror stories from other business owners and their staff turnover is just so high, I feel so bad for them. I count my lucky stars that I have a lot of people in the team that I can delegate work to and sleep peacefully knowing it’ll be done well.

The dynamics in the FV office is so good that I get so wary of new people joining. I am fully aware that this is way easier to do with a small team, and as we scale up, things might not be able to stay the way it is. But I sure as hell can try. These people mean a lot to me, and I really hope the FV culture can stay as it is even across hundreds of employees one day.

Dean and I were having dinner, just the 2 of us. And we were discussing interviews for potential positions we’ve advertised for.

Then, I asked him an honest question.

“If there are only TWO traits you can have in an employee, what would they be?”

“Sincerity and hardworking,” he said immediately as if he has those traits drilled in his head already. “You?”

I kept quiet for a few seconds. Cos err well, sorry but I don’t think about these things!

“I guess sincerity is crucial… and loyalty.”

Dean pfttt-ed at my answer. “Well duh, if they’re sincere, they’re loyal.”

“Well not necessarily! They might be sincere in their work but they’re still looking for other places to work.”

“Then they’re unhappy with their job and you’re not giving them a happy workplace, maybe.”

“Ok fine… sincerity and… independent? Like they can take tasks on their own and not ask me every little thing.”

“Well, if they’re too independent, they might as well be your boss cos they don’t need you.”

“Nolah.. as in, they’ll have to report to you as their boss, but they won’t bug you with every little detail.”

“But how will you know they’re on the right track? What if they screw up that task and you find out when it’s too late because they’re too independent?”

“Ugh!!!! When did this become a debate!! Fine. Sincerity and…. a problem-solver. Like I need them to solve problems that come and be able to be a leader in their own right. Use their creativity to handle issues that come their way and not always be spoonfed solutions. The last resort should be me, when they have exhausted their ideas. At least I know they tried.”

Dean kept quiet.

“Mehh.. my 2 traits are better.”

How…. annoying… it’s not a competition!! Pftttt.

Bottom line is, it’s not easy to be a boss, a good one at least. I’m sure I make wrong decisions sometimes, but like everyone else, I’m learning as I go. As a boss, you’ll get complaints behind your backs, you’ll get disgruntled characters, you’ll get moody ones, you’ll get happy ones. And it all depends on you how you’d like to handle them with maturity, compassion and fairness. It’s not as easy as it sounds, that I know.

One day, I saw this in my purse.

I was having a pretty tiring day, and seeing this just lifted up my mood on so many levels. You should’ve seen me at Coffee Bean reading this while the guy behind the counter watched me as I got emotional. “Err… 19.80, Miss…”

Every employee expects to be appreciated and I try my best. But sometimes, it’s just nice to be appreciated too in return.

Well, not all the time of course. We’ve got work to do. Haha.