A former and long time employee of my company, who also happened to have been married to the same woman for many decades, used to say, “When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Although the grammar contained in this statement was, at first, shocking, in that the person who said it has a Ph.D., it is meant to convey that, even if everyone else in the company thinks everything is okay, if I, as the owner and primary shareholder of the company do not agree, then it is a moot point how the others feel. In a small company, personalities are magnified; if the employees are going along from day to day assuming everything is okay if they perform at the minimal level just to get by, it doesn’t take long for me to find out their performance is sub par. We have had numerous occasions when employees get along with each other, but do not get along with my partner and/or me. We have also had many instances when, for some reason unbeknownst to me, everyone else devises a plan without consulting me first and, even though they believe the plan will be to my liking (or, if not, they hope I won’t find out about it). The plan I require them to follow is often vastly different. I, of course, think my plan is superior to the one devised without consulting me; the employees soon learn that, because I am the owner of the company, it is more likely than not that we will follow my plan of action. Overall, the “momma” analogy has many applications in our small, family owned, business.
One of the keys to success as an employee is to learn how to keep the boss happy by learning that boss’ preferences, style, or approach. And, once it is learned, emulate it, or at least think of one’s work from the perspective of the boss. A boss often has good reasons for approaching work in a certain way. One of the main reasons is having tried things from other angles and having learned the best approach. Learning from the boss can make an employee more productive and as, momma says, increase workplace harmony and reduce conflict. We all know some bosses who are “impossible to please”; that is not what this post is about. We are talking about approaching work in a way takes into consideration the boss’ preferences and instructions. Over the years we have had employees that say, “I do it this way” or “when I was at___, we did___” so that is how I’m going to do it. This usually does not bode well for the employees’ tenure. Understandably, there are times when we all want to learn new or different ways of doing things. But, doing something contrary to a boss’ instructions or preferences will create problems. If you want to demonstrate another approach, do so directly, and let the boss know you have a suggestion for another approach – but don’t unilaterally take liberties unless you are willing to suffer the consequences. Momma (and Poppa) do not want to be second guessed, made to look bad, or negatively surprised when an employee goes it alone. This is because Momma and Poppa are keenly aware of how the reputation of their company is on the line with even small details, such as routine client communications, with every interaction with the ultimate Momma and Poppa to be kept happy – the business’ clients and customers.