Why we love to work here.

Why we love to work here.

Entrepreneurship | Judette Coward-Puglisi

December 22, 2008

 

I  have a tall tale I love to share with my employees. It’s about the hoops I had to jump through about ten years ago  in order to get paid from a scampish client, a bakery owner. I relate the part where I was forced to listen to his  rambles about  his philandering  wife.  I dramatise how I  waited  for five hours in his office until I left with my cheque in hand without a hint of the burning rage I felt at the time

The story, I believe, points to my naivete when I first started in business. But it also suggests a certain kind of determination to overcome hurdles. It was my rude awakening about  the survival factor of  cash flows  in a small business, and I  remind my staff of the story whenever client gives us the run around for payment. My staff hollers when I spin my tales, dramatic and over presented to ensure that  it sticks. 

But here is the thing about that story, not only is it a wonderful talking point, it also stands as a signature experience from the early days of the firm. In and of itself, it creates value because it  serves as a powerful and constant symbol of our organisation’s culture. It reflects our heritage, and the ethos of our beginning. More importantly the story engages my small staff. 

Truth be told I am counting on this engagement  to see us through the difficult times. I got whiff that everything would be all right (on the employee side) right after a staff meeting I called last week to talk about how our firm was going to adjust to the recession. 

I began by asking the team what they feared most  and addressed those fears in a direct but caring fashion.   I outlined how salaries would be frozen, that we would probably have to work longer hours and be nimble enough to do more for less in order to serve our clients. In response everyone gave their commitment to meeting the challenges ahead and one of the senior employees  who had remained quiet throughout the discussion  said that as long as we stuck together we would be fine. 

Sticking together.  The phrase  reminded me of the importance of employee involvement in good times and bad and  that what  truly makes good, small companies great is their ability to attract and retain the right people who can persevere. Employees who are excited by what they’re doing and the environment they’re operating in, no matter how challenging/

Together I feel that we will come up with creative and productive solutions to the curent business environment and that our determination, just like when I sat in that client’s office for five hours, will be contagious and uplifting

Suddenly, I am no longer afraid.