I’m going to make this very simple so you don’t have to read a lot to understand what I’m trying to say: If there are things you don’t like about your business they are your fault. Everything else is just you blaming someone else for stuff you should be handling.
Emyth 101. Read it. If you’ve read it, read it again.
Discipline in management, in how your organization lives and breathes, how your team interacts and behaves with everyone inside and out.. has everything to do with how your rules are set, enforced and reviewed. If they aren’t set or if there is any ambiguity whatsoever in how they are followed, enforced and monitored then they may as well not even exist.
A law is only as valid as it’s enforcement.
Write that, bad grammar and all, somewhere you can see it often.
The following is kind of embarrassing
Because Own Web Now Corp operated like this for years. And let me be perfectly honest and up front about the single biggest misconception about shit employees:
It is your responsibility as a manager to make the team you have productive or make adjustments to the team. It is not the employees fault, ever. If you have to fire them or they walk, it’s partially your fault no matter what.
But how do otherwise reasonably intelligent people (or in my case, perhaps the smartest person in the galaxy) make such rookie mistakes, repeatedly?
It’s so easy to be stupid.
Stupid & lazy about solving a problem = deadly combo.
It’s not that I didn’t know – I knew: but I told myself I had bigger problems to deal with than the discipline. Hell, I was at times the least disciplined around and I made it up by working around the clock. So did many, many others.
It’s not that it was easy to ignore – It bothered me but on top of all the other issues I had did I really need to nitpick and cause more discomfort?
It’s not that I had no idea how to fix it – I had no idea where to even start.
I really could go on and on about this. Two facts remain: 1. My fault. 2. I chose not to deal with it. There is no getting away from it all, through every undisciplined flop I made there was the option to address it or focus on our clients. I always chose my clients because I have never been confused about what was the most important thing. Trouble is, you can’t have one without the other.
What finally prompted the change?
Complaints. Whether they were about me or about the others it was clear that the ground was not leveled and it caused people to have hurt feelings or get the impression that they were not important or relevant to the organization. This is the worst damn message you can send to your team.
Antisocial interaction. The culture came to a freeze. Some people sent ugly messages to the corporate listserv. Some people lost hair. Some people got defriended and filtered on Facebook. Folks stopped coming to social events. The whole concept of loyalty completely fell apart and people started getting hurt because when you lack discipline.. it’s always someone else that has it better than you! Even when you’re doing stuff that you shouldn’t.
It eventually got to the point that the primary problem was the lack of discipline to following the rules and procedures we had about ourselves. We’ve always been great at how we conduct business – but we haven’t stuck to how we should treating each other.. and by now you’ve guessed it: the shenanigans started and ended with me.
Discipline is all about doing what you’re supposed to. No matter how much you’d rather not.
1. Starts with you, the business owner.
2. Continues with the managers.
3. Rests with every member of the team.
4. Flows up the organization as well as down.
If you don’t have all four you’re doing it wrong.
You are supposed to set the example – you are supposed to enforce it. If you don’t want to live by the rules you’ve set then how can you expect anyone else to? If you don’t want to have difficult conversations with your employees then who will? Everyone plays by the same book with the same rules and everyone keeps pushing everyone else – or would you rather have them blame one another? Finally, just because the rules are in place doesn’t mean they are good and doesn’t mean they are followed, respected or in the best interest of your organization.
You cannot run a company like a bootcamp. But you also can’t run it as a locker room. Not everyone is a soldier and not everyone is comfortable with towel ass slaps.
So you sit down and you look at your rules. Is it important for the staff to dress a certain way? Is it important for them to be on time? Is the rule you’re about to set something that would be frowned upon by a McDonalds employee? Will anyone follow the rule? Will you?
Review. Consult. Discuss. Explain. Follow. Lead.
Do likewise gents and I promise you two things:
1) Nobody will like it at first. As much as everyone will complain about others getting special treatment, it sucks when you realize you’ve been getting away with stuff you shouldn’t have.
2) Everyone will thrive eventually. Standards, policies, rules.. are all in place to level the playing field. Once the stress of dealing with what everyone else is doing goes away the team will focus on the problems they should be worried about. When those problems are addressed – the stress of the job will go away as well. What happens to a well managed company that has little stress? It thrives.
You have rules and standards and policies when it comes to delivering your services. You are accountable to them to the ridiculous detail and you even take extra caution and go the extra mile.
There is no reason not to treat your team the same. You owe it to them.
That is the core component of discipline: Being driven to always do what you’re supposed to no matter how much you’d rather do something else.
Now I’ve been lucky: I have a great team. You may not be. You have to take care of each other and I am lucky to be in business, with the same people that have been by my side for years, and I’m eternally thankful that I’ve been graced with the opportunity to fix the @#%# I’ve caused. You may not have the same luck so keep in mind that the whole “laser focus” thing can at times leave you with a lot of blind spots.