Let’s say you are a supervisor or middle manager at a small company. Nearly 52% of workers in the US work for small companies. In many ways, it can be a better place to work. There are no big company politics going on, everyone knows everyone else, and there is typically a family feeling between the owner and the workers.
However, that isn’t always the case. 80% of new businesses fail within the first five years. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees have only a 37% chance of surviving four years and only a 9% chance of surviving 10 years. The number one reason for failure is inexperience, but not in the area of the business, instead the failure is in the actual running of the business. Here are two examples: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were the two genius inventors of Apple Computer but they didn’t know very much about marketing, accounting, finance, and business management. Paul Allen and Bill Gates of Microsoft had a much better balance. Paul Allen was the computer science genius whereas Bill Gates was the business genius.
So you work for one of these small companies, you really need your job, and you are able to see some of the classic mistakes that small business owners make on their way to failure. So what do you do? What is your responsibility?
Here are some classic cases:
– The owner hires all new employees himself with little input from you. However, you have to manage these new employees. Training new people is expensive and there is a 200% turnover rate. You are blamed for the poor employee performance and company profitability.
– The owner likes to have people around him that agree with what he wants to do. However, in many cases what he wants to do is wrong.
– The owner has a prejudice against women. He believes they are only worth a low wage no matter what job they do in the company.
– The owner does not believe what his employees tell him, from simple things like the phones being out of order to more complex process and procedural issues.
– The quality of the company’s products has been falling but the owner blames “customer support” and “customer training” for the drop in sales. Because the owner designed the products, the failures can only be in the manufacture or implementation of those designs, never the design itself.
– The owner can do no wrong and any failures are blamed on the employees.
– The owner recognizes no managerial chain of command. He wants everyone to work for him. He is the classic micro-manager and most of his decisions are wrong.
– The owner does not believe that his people are his greatest resource. The offices and equipment are small and antiquated. He provides the smallest employee benefits he can.
- He provides a sick time benefit but gets upset when an employee calls in sick
- He provides a vacation benefit but argues about, and often denies the employee the vacation.
- He refuses to allow his employees to write down the hours that they work. He insists that everyone put down 8 hours per day, however he insists that everyone work extra hours each day.
Some of these cases are criminal, some are just bad management, and some are just plain stupid. However, you need your job and you know that you may lose that job if you point out the problems in any of these cases. Unfortunately, many employees encounter these cases during their working lives. It is simple “fight or flight” in most instances. A small business owner that is smart enough to listen to the expertise of his employees will probably beat the averages and remain in business longer than 10 years. The others are doomed to failure.
Please feel free to share this post on your favorite social media below.