Archive for the ‘Employee’ category

Life is not perfect – be prepared to do 50% of what you don’t like to do

Life is not perfect

I meet and work with a lot of people these days, frequently I hear these statements “my work became so monotonous”, “I’m doing things which I don’t like”, “my job is pretty boring” and many more along the lines of expressing they don’t like the job they do.

In a perfect ideal world, I understand you would love to be in a job which fits with 100% of your passion.  Ex: I love racing, I would love to be inside the cockpit as much as I can, visit exciting circuits around the world and keep racing. Let’s take a bit more concrete example Lewis Hamilton, the Formula 1 driver. Lewis will love to be inside the car racing all the time, but the reality is he would probably spend less than10 hours per week on the race car (approximate assumption: 2 hours on race weekend, 2 hours during qualifying, about 6 hours on pre-practice). It doesn’t mean Lewis is going to work only 10 hours per week, he probably will work for more than 50 hours.

So where does all the remaining 40 hours in a week go? the majority of them will be that boring, monotonous things which he probably doesn’t like to do. It will involve things like few hours in the simulator, few hours in the gym, PR, media interviews, advertising/sponsors commitments, traveling, dealing internal team politics, time away from family, etc. etc. the list will be so long.

All these things will apply to any top sports personality (or any other profession), “Life is not perfect”, be prepared to do 50% or more of things which you really don’t like to do. Here we are discussing only the professional life, which normally is less than 1/3rd of the time we all have in hand (about 8-10 hours/day however we need to exclude holidays/weekends). This professional working time is what fuels the happiness in your personal/family time. I wanted to buy a BMW, I wanted to go on exotic holidays, I wanted to put kids in the top university are all possible only when you are successful in your professional time.

Any one point in your professional life, there will always be 50% of the work you probably don’t like to do. You move up in the career stage by stage, and the boring things will also shift. Let me give my own example. In the beginning days of BizTalk360 where I was alone or had less than 5 people in the team, I used to do everything quote request, demos, support, development, documentation, blogging, speaking, partner/customer visits the list is long. You probably can guess 70-80% of the tasks are not something either I’m good at or willing to do. But I understood the only way I can make it work and build the company is by doing all the activities.  If I have chosen to work on only the activity which I love the most development and building products then there is a very little chance we would have brought BizTalk360 to the level we are today.

As we have grown, we added more people on board and was able to delegate a lot of work, we have dedicated support team, documentation team, accounts payable team, big development teams etc. Did it mean all my boring tasks are gone away and I’m enjoying my time with only interesting things? Absolutely not, as we have grown, now we are faced with  a new set of challenges and a new set of boring activities which I have to perform.

Today I’m faced with tasks like hiring people, marketing/sales strategies, having difficult internal conversations, tough sales negotiations, keeping everybody happy across the board, product vision, new product ideas, constant decision making etc. As you can clearly see, one person is not going to be passionate about all these things, however, I should do it in order to move the company to the next level.

So what’s the summary!  If we start separating interesting and boring tasks and keep moaning about it, it’s never going to fix the problem. We need to accept the fact, it’s nearly impossible to land on a perfect thing, there will always be a combination of interesting and boring things. Of course, you wanted to make sure, the interesting things overweigh the boring activities. We should look at the big picture, the big goal and balance it out and see how happy you are overall. In my case, the growth of BizTalk360 and the influence I can have on 40+ employees and their families, making a lot of customers happy are what drives me to do anything that’s required to be done. This ultimate goal will vary from person to person, you need to think what keeps you motivated, consider your professional and personal time together, they are more interconnected than you think.

Your core employee decides to leave, what’s next?

In a start-up (I guess calling it a small organisation makes more sense) pretty much every single employee will have a role to play, and it’s nearly impossible to have a backup plan for everyone. In this scenario  anyone putting that resignation letter is going to hurt and will have impact in the company.

All the investments you have made with that person is going to drain. As a founder your natural reaction will be more emotional, angry, confused, lot of “why this ..that” type of questions will go in your mind! Most of the time your first reaction will be how to change that employee mind set and ask him to stay.

If you take a step back and think, the employee wouldn’t have made that decision lightly, he would have gone through all the implications and decided something else is better for him/her. On the other side, will you have the same confidence/trust sharing anything with that person who decided to leave. Either way, it’s a better decision to let that employee go, the more you prolong it’s going to cause more problems.

As a founder you need to understand, as a human being everyone’s expectations and priorities are different. This is one of the best quote on this subject

Waiting too long before acting is equally unfair to the people who need to get off the bus. For every minute you allow a person to continue holding a seat when you know that person will not make it in the end, you’re stealing a portion of his life, time that he could spend finding a better place where he could flourish. – Jim Collins

Even companies like Buffer who are known for their transparency and openness had to let people go time to time. By looking at their growth, culture and openness everyone might think, once you are there it’s a great place to be. But the reality is  different, here is the quote from Buffer CEO

No matter how awesome our hiring process is, it’s inevitable that sometimes the person is not a great fit. Now that we have grown to 13 people and had to make tough team changes along the way, we’ve started to see a ratio emerge. We now know not to be surprised if about 1 in 4 people we hire doesn’t work out. – Joel Gascoigne 

Analyse the situation and avoid it happening in the future

The best thing you can do is listen to what the employee had to say as part of exit interview carefully. See what went wrong, some of the common things to check and verify

This process will give you opportunity to learn what went wrong and possibility to correct it.