Friday, January 6, 2012

Midlife Crisis, Staff-Style

Hope your first week back went well. Okay, I am going to get right to it.

I saw Rabbit Hole with Nicole Kidman. She and her husband are trying to cope with the loss of their 4 year old son that was hit by a car. DE-PRESS-ING. I saw Bad Teacher: raunchy but pretty funny. I saw an old movie with Robert DeNiro called Midnight Run. It was good, not great. Friends with Benefits. I thought this movie was very funny, but not for kids. And I am halfway through Green Lantern.

I read the memoir of Jaycee Dugard, the girl who was kidnapped on her way to school when she was 11 by a husband and wife. She was kept in the backyard shed for 18 years, has two kids by this monster. The book was okay, but it just makes you fear more for your child's safety. "Dad, can I go outside and ride my bike?"


And I am now reading a book called The Book Thief. I have heard great things about this one. Hey, did you read the Hunger Games? Yeah, that was a really good book. The movie is coming out in a couple of months. That should be good.

Anyway, I was talking to you about having a midlife crisis on Wednesday. Not the crazy midlife crisis, but the opening your eyes to the REAL world midlife crisis. What got me on this topic was a conversation I had with a friend. She was upset about the morale in her office, and she deciding the economy isn’t helping. You know, the people working in our offices are dealing with some financial crap at home. Maybe their spouse has lost their job or lost their insurance. Stuff like that. And they bring it to work. But she said it is more than that.

She says what makes her happy is when her staff is happy. What makes her happy is when her patients are happy. It’s not about the money. Because if the staff is happy and the patients are happy, the money will come.

But lately, the morale is really bad. She has tried to compensate for the low morale by being a better boss, micro-managing a little to make sure there aren’t any issues. Nothing has helped. "I don't know what else to do. They are just not happy and I can only blame myself. There are days when I just want to say, 'It’s over. You ALL are fired,' and start over."

She said the Christmas party was a disaster. She tried to make it so everyone had a great time and was happy but most of them brought the low morale to the party. She spent $3,000 on a party and she might as well have just had a bonfire with the money.

She surprised everyone with a cruise for Christmas one year. It was a 4-night, all-expenses-paid cruise for the staff members and their husbands. She bought 26 4-night cruises. Only 12 went. She had to return 14 and then go out and find other gifts for the 7 staff that didn't go. Talk about an empty feeling.

I remember going on a 7-day, all-expenses-paid trip to Cancun with my staff, and their husbands, about 13 years ago (there were about 22 people on that trip). It was a great time. We have a picture in the lounge of a bus ride on that trip. All but 4 people in the picture are no longer here. Some retired and some moved away, but you get what I mean.

As a boss, it is hard to keep morale up. It is hard to keep your own morale up. But again, I am a seasoned veteran and I recognize this is not a career for most staff members. It doesn't matter how much you try to make them feel like an owner. It doesn’t matter if you give them profit sharing. It is still just a job. And trust me, I have been out 16 years and I have a 15-year and a 14-year employee. They are both committed but they both would admit that it is just a job. Hell, I have a 34-year employee that started with my dad here, and I know she doesn't love this place like I do.

Back to the Christmas party. I know friends that have given up. They realize they can have an awesome, mega-expensive party and have an empty feeling in their stomach. So they just stopped having the parties. And, quite frankly, stopped giving Christmas gifts. They go out to lunch for Christmas. That is it. They feel like they are just not getting a return on the investment.

Look, I know all the staff members that are reading this are spitting venom at the screen right now. But just as hard as it is to get you guys to be owners, it is hard for us, the bosses, to make this a family. It is still a business.

My staff members (the 34-, 16-, 14-year veterans) accused me of not running my practice like a family when I had to cut benefits because the practice was sinking like a lead ball. I totally agreed with them; it did seem like that. It seemed like I was being the jerk at the top. But I felt like my hands were tied.

You can have an eye-opening experience with your staff. Whatever you do, it is going to be tough. You are going to love them one week and want to fire them all the very next week. There is an even flow of attitudes. You can have team-building experiences, elaborate Christmas parties, you can give bonuses and profit-sharing and the morale will still be down.

You want it to be a family. You want your staff to like you and guess what. Poop happens. Sometimes you have to be the boss. You have to fire people. You have to cut pay. You have to decrease benefits. It sucks.

Hope you have a great weekend.


P.S. As I reread this to proof, it kind of sounds like we don't have a good time here. We definitely do and most of the time we really like each other. Most of the time we all love coming to work. It is the other times that I am talking about, the rough patches.


Anonymous said...

Aw, but see, it IS just like a family. You're Dad. They're the kids. Sometimes you gotta be the tough guy and dish out the punishment. Sometimes you get to be the fun guy and run through the sprinklers with them.

Do you love all your family members all the time? No. But you get through the rough spots and come out better people on the other side. Family.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes employees just want fair bosses, they have their families at home and don't need another lot.


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