Our business, Diversified Industrial Staffing in Troy, recently celebrated its 14th year in business. During that time, we have had several dozen internal employees and have placed several thousand in various jobs. When I started out 14 years ago, the relationship between me as an employer and my employees was very hierarchal and very top down in nature. Employees came to the office, did their job, and went home. The relationship was almost transactional in nature, devoid of warmth and intimacy.
I was running a small company like it was a big company. It reminded me of hearing my parents describe working for big companies and hearing them say that they were “thankful to have a job.” They had the mentality that they had very few job options and they were counting the days until retirement. I was creating a miserable employee existence, which was not very satisfying for anyone involved.
In 2006, as the owner, I found it miserable to come to work. At the time I was reading a lot of articles about the .com companies and how young start-up entrepreneurs were treating employees like equals and how the employees were working hard and devoting themselves to the goals of the company. It sounded like a much better workplace than the one I was creating. I decided that I wanted to have that type of environment at my company. To achieve that, I adopted these philosophies:
Lead people, don’t just run a company: I have learned that employees need to be trusted, listened to, and acknowledged. Often times, they have better ideas than I do.
Transparency, honesty and candor above all else: We practice open book management, including posting individual employee goals and revenue numbers on a weekly basis. Everyone in the company knows where the company, and their co-workers, stands each week.
Create a work environment where people can go home happy: We have adopted a Failing Forward philosophy. I want my employees to try new things and stretch themselves. It’s okay if they fail — just fail fast and learn from it.
Businesses aren’t “like” a family; they are a family: I have had nearly all of my employees over to my house for holiday parties or other gatherings. We encourage our staff to have their families come to our office to see where they work. We want to break down the barriers between work life and home life. After all, employees spend more time at work than home.
What I learned from this change in management is that employees want to see the vision of the company come to life. They want to know that you care about them as people. Since I have changed my mind set, our company has achieved some amazing things. Even better than what the company has attained, as the owner, I have created some great relationships with many of the people that work with me. It is no longer miserable for me to come to work, now I hang out with my friends.