Why we love to work here.
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.