Club or Business?

Your organization is either a club or a business. You have to decide which, because it can't be both.

Don't ask employees to perform personal tasks for you, such as picking up your dry cleaning, shopping for you, etc. Employees don't work for you - they work for the business, and asking them to perform these tasks - in addition to degrading them professionally - steals time away from the business.

Do you have any employees that you keep simply because you like them, even though their work is sporadic or mediocre at best? You don't have a business; you have a club. And you know what happens when a club competes against a business? It fails, because a business has its eye on the prize, and a club is all about comfort zones. It's not a question of whether or not your club will fail - only when.

That employee that you keep, maybe they're a friend of yours, or someone who's been with the company from the beginning, and you have some notion (or they do) that this accords them some kind of special status. Your other employees, most of whom are more productive and who produce better work, are aware of this and resent it - especially since, because you run a club instead of a business - this friend of yours likely makes more money than they do and may even have some special privileges as a long-standing club member. And you know what happens when those other, more talented employees figure this out?

They leave. And they get jobs with your competitors, because your competitors run businesses, and their businesses reward employees based on performance, rather than longevity or whether or not they play golf with the boss.

A club is a hobby, something to dabble in, but not to be taken seriously. That is why so many new so-called businesses fail: they are run by hobbyists. A business is run by professionals, people who want and expect to work every day, to actively compete, and to produce the best work that they are capable of.

Here's another yardstick to determine whether you have a business or a club: How often do you measure and assess each employee's work, sit down with them, and together plan ways for them to improve? If it's not - at minimum - once a year, you've got a club. And don't think you're off the hook if that annual meeting doesn't have at least a monthly touch-base to measure results against the plan that you and your employee put together. If that annual meeting is the only one that you have each year about their progress toward reaching their performance goals, you're still in a club.

Better start polishing your resume now.

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