July 5, 2022

Staying Alive: Why I Would Rather Pay My Employees Too Much

Staying Alive

The struggles of a business trying to survive.

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post, “Why I Pay What I Pay,” about the performance I expect from workers at different wage rates. I was surprised by the number of comments, but I guess that any discussion of pay is going to push someone’s button. That said, I’d like to respond to a couple of points that were raised and also make a few new ones.

First and most obvious: Every dollar I pay my workers has to come out of a client’s pocket. Having cash to make payroll is not a forgone conclusion. We scramble to make sales and bring in revenue every day. The amount of money I have on hand varies widely, but pay day arrives every two weeks like clockwork. This has caused me a lot of stress over the years and often leads me to question whether I am paying the right amount. If I were running a different kind of business — one where I knew with certainty that the money I need to meet payroll will always be there — I would think about wages differently. But I don’t have that luxury. I have to allocate our revenue stream to cover all of our operations, not just payroll, and making a mistake can be fatal. If I spend too much on the wrong thing, there will be no money for some other critical function.

Second, clients don’t care what I pay my workers. In the last three years we’ve had more than 2,000 inquiries for our product, and not a single potential buyer asked about my wage scale. These buyers also do not care whether I make a profit — as long as I deliver what they ordered. And many would probably prefer that I didn’t make any money at all, at least not on their order. As a small-business owner, I understand how important profits can be, so when I’m buying something, I don’t sweat over every penny I spend. I know that I’ll get better service and a better product from companies that aren’t struggling to make ends meet. But that perspective is unusual. Many of my clients have price targets, and they need us to hit them. They are not at all concerned with what I have to do to meet their needs.

Third, the question of how I interact with my employees is up to me. My business model and my history lead me to want to treat them well. I’m with my employees as often as I’m with my family, and I made the decision long ago that I’d rather spend my time with people who are happy to be working for me than people who hate me. It has cost me a lot of money to do this, but I believe that in the long run it has served me well.

I know a number of shop owners, running businesses like mine, who made different decisions about how to pay people. One in particular advertised his shop as a woodworking school, and charged his workers tuition. He then used their labor to build a product line that was sold at regular market prices. On the face of it, it was a brilliant business model, but he closed his doors years ago, and I’m still around. I run into his former “students” now and then, and they all describe the bitter moment when they realized what was going on and how they decided to leave as quickly as possible.

I don’t want that kind of relationship with my employees, and I don’t want to deal with constant turnover. My people are smart and hard-working and that’s who I want to spend my life with. I’d rather err on the side of paying them too much than have to deal with grumbling and turnover. But if I were running a business where turnover is expected — an ice-cream stand in a summer resort, for example — I’d have a different attitude. I’d be a lot more interested in my own reward than the long-term prosperity of my workers. And that would make sense, for that situation. On to some questions.

From kathy d:

I’d be interested in knowing how long a worker spends at each level before he/she can be promoted. Is it simply mastery of the skill set for that level, or is there a regular schedule of promotions/raises?

I’m small, so a promotion path is not a given. It’s just not possible to make that promise in a company this size. I wrote about this in the summer of 2010, and my thinking hasn’t changed.

From Meredith:

Do you offer cost of living yearly increases? Say, 2 or 3%? Or a yearly bonus for excellent performance?

Here’s my question for you, Meredith: Where’s my Cost of Progress Discount? Why am I expected to raise pay steadily when my workers’ skills set is constantly being made obsolete by market forces? Why can’t the workers who are not upgrading their own skills expect a continuous reduction of wages? This would allow their employer to compete in the market through continual, automatic cost reduction. That might sound harsh, but it reflects my reality as a manufacturer.

Seventy-five percent of what we do every day was not possible 10 years ago. I have had to re-invest cash continuously — money that could have gone into my own pocket — on new technologies, new equipment, experiments in process improvement, and employee skills development. Driven by my own desire to make my business more competitive, that effort has kept us in business. It has allowed me to keep my wages where they are. I don’t feel that workers should automatically expect pay raises unless their employer enjoys the luxury of automatic increases in revenue and profit. That’s not happening in my kind of manufacturing. As for bonuses, I have paid them in the past, based on no formula other than whether I was feeling rich and happy at the end of the year. That approach has some drawbacks, so I am implementing a regular, predictable profit-sharing plan this year. I’ll be writing more about it in the future.

From ted:

Can you tell us approximately how much the benefits you offer add to the hourly wage? (vacation, holidays, health care)

I can tell you my projections for 2013. We offer personal days, which can be used either for sickness or vacation, along with six paid holidays. New employees get six personal days in their first year of service and an additional day for each subsequent year, topping out at 16 personal days. Add the six holidays, and my long-term employees get 22 paid days off. The overall cost of doing this is tied to the pay rate and length of service for each worker, but in 2013 the total bill for paid time off will be $50,218. This includes the wages and the payroll tax we pay. That’s 5.76 percent of our total wage bill of $872,581 (excluding my pay, which is budgeted at 6 percent of sales).

As for health costs, the company pays two thirds of the cost of ensuring our employees, and their families, who accept the coverage we offer. Twelve of my 16 workers participate, and this year the cost to the company will be $51,565. That is 5.91 percent of our total wages. The two benefits, added together, cost $101,784, or 11.66 percent of our wages. Is that expensive? Again, it depends on the context. For me, it’s not. I’d love to shed the hassle of dealing with health care, but the cost is not going to break me. And what I get for my spending on vacations and health care is a stable, healthy work force. That’s important to me, and I think it makes my shop a good place to work. Is it possible to duplicate that in every business? No.

In closing, I thought long and hard about publishing the last post, as it committed me to live up to my words and pay my people based on a clearly understood formula of skills versus pay. Many bosses wouldn’t do that, for lots of good reasons that boil down to this: published wage scales change the balance of power between bosses and employees. They make it much harder to be flexible (boss’s description) or arbitrary (employees’ description.)

In the last few years, I have made a number of changes to how I run my business, in all cases revealing information that many bosses keep secret. I am hoping that empowering my workers, letting them see what really makes the business run, will help all of us figure out how to increase sales and profits, which we can then share.

But that may not be a good idea. If it is the best way to run a business, why don’t more bosses do it? Am I compromising my own financial future for the sake of starry-eyed idealism? Would my approach work in your business?

Paul Downs founded Paul Downs Cabinetmakers in 1986. It is based outside Philadelphia.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/07/why-i-would-rather-pay-my-employees-too-much/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bits: When E-Mail Turns From Delight to Deluge

Those days are long gone. Now, when I examine my various e-mail accounts, my main emotion is dread.

One morning last week, I sat at my desk and stared at my Gmail in-box; 40,000 unread e-mails stared back. (That big number is a function of my life as a writer, and of having five different accounts, work and personal.) Feeling unusually invigorated, I attacked the mountain, trashing subscription newsletters and social networking alerts en masse. I typed brief confirmations for various meetings, sent long-overdue R.S.V.P.’s and replied to a few friends who had sent warm notes of hello. In an hour, I worked my way through roughly 100 e-mails.

Satisfied by a morning well spent, I left for an early lunch. But when I returned to my desk an hour later, it was as if I’d never deleted a thing. There were dozens of new messages, each waiting to be tackled.

Frustrated, I closed my e-mail and couldn’t bring myself to return to it for the rest of the day.

It wasn’t always like this. E-mail was once a great tool for communication, one that was less intrusive than the telephone and faster than the Postal Service. Now, even when it works as designed, it’s a virtual nightmare — and, occasionally, an actual one. I’ve had many a stress dream about missing important notes from my boss.

Where have we gone wrong?

Part of it has to do with how stagnant the format of e-mail has remained, while the rest of communication and social networking has surged light years ahead, says Susan Etlinger, an analyst at the Altimeter Group, who studies how people use and interact with technology and the Internet. E-mail is largely arranged along a linear timeline, with little thought given to context and topic.

“It’s become another timeline or feed,” she says. “It goes by and then it’s done. The current model of e-mail feels obsolete.”

She also says that while most e-mail providers are trying to block spammers and phishers from bombarding people, they have barely begun to tackle the problem of social spam — a plague of unnecessary and unwanted e-mail that includes alerts from social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Tumblr.

“The spam problem has mostly been fixed, at least, in terms of what is legitimately supposed to be spam,” she said. “It’s the unwanted e-mails that are so horrifying.”

These frustrations seem universal. And they are not going away anytime soon, particularly given the news that the post office is planning to drop the delivery of certain mail on Saturdays. Our dependence on e-mail is only growing. Indeed, Pingdom, a Web site that monitors Internet use, published a report in January saying that there are 2.2 billion e-mail users worldwide, and that global e-mail traffic has reached 144 billion messages a day.

Some preliminary answers to this digital quandary are emerging.

Google offered its version of a solution with Priority in-box, a feature that tries to automatically identify urgent messages. And Apple recently introduced a “V.I.P.” tag that will push a notification to the user when an e-mail arrives from a previously designated important person. These help, but they are not enough on their own.

Even using both systems, I still resort to keeping an eye on my in-box through the day and jotting down a list — on paper — of people to write back at the end of the day or before bed. It’s archaic at best, and I rarely get to everyone before the day is out.

Of course, there is a regimented, minimalist approach to clearing out in-boxes each day — otherwise known as In-Box Zero — but that requires a level of constant attention and maintenance beyond the scope of my time and patience.

I was starting to consider e-mail bankruptcy — ditching my account and signing up for a new one — until I heard about a new option in the e-mail wars, an iOS app called Mailbox, which promises to change how we manage our mail.

Mailbox, in a way, harks back to an older, simpler system in which you checked your mail — the paper kind — and sorted it as soon as you received it. You read the most pressing letters first, tossed away the junk and set aside pieces of mail that could be dealt with later. The app does much the same thing, by letting users sort their in-box into three neat columns, in a much sleeker and prettier interface than the basic mail clients available for the iPhone or most Android phones.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/technology/when-e-mail-turns-from-delight-to-deluge.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: Amid Criticism, Global Rule Maker Defends Regulatory Efforts

Stefan Ingves, the chairman of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and governor of the Riksbank, the Swedish central bank.Bertil Ericson/Scanpix, via Associated PressStefan Ingves, the chairman of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and governor of the Riksbank, the Swedish central bank.

DAVOS, Switzerland — The head of a panel that writes the global financial rulebook answered criticism that the so-called Basel Committee has gone soft on banks, arguing that lenders need more time to adjust to new regulations because the financial crisis has lasted longer than anyone expected.

Stefan Ingves, the chairman of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, was responding to some economists and other critics who interpreted a recent decision by the committee as a signal that regulators were losing their resolve to contain risk-taking by banks.

Earlier this month, the committee decided to give banks got more time to comply with a requirement that they maintain a 30-day supply of cash other assets that are easy to sell. The rule is supposed to make banks better able to survive a financial crisis like the one that occurred after Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008.

When regulators drafted the rule in 2010, they did not expect the crisis to last so long and for banks to still be in such a weakened state, said Mr. Ingves, who is also governor of the Riksbank, the Swedish central bank. The important thing is that there is a rule at all, he said.

World Economic Forum in Davos
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“The Basel Committee has been discussing liquidity in different forms for 30 years,” Mr. Ingves said in an interview on Friday here at the World Economic Forum. “To get to a point where a global liquidity standard has been established is an achievement in itself.”

Banks will have until 2019 to fully comply with the requirement, instead of 2015 as originally planned. The rule will still achieve its purpose of making banks safer, Mr. Ingves said.

“If there’s stress in the system, a bank shouldn’t run out of money,” Mr. Ingves said. “It should take longer than the last time before you need to go to the central bank. It’s buying insurance within the private sector itself.”

The loosening of the rule this month raised concerns that members of the Basel Committee, whose decisions serve as a benchmark for national regulators around the world, would also become more lenient on other issues as they conduct a comprehensive overhaul of banking rules.

The Basel Committee also expanded the definition of liquid assets to include even securities backed by home mortgages, one of the financial instruments that helped case the crisis. Mr. Ingves pointed out that the rules contain safeguards to ensure that banks only use high-quality mortgage-backed securities.

Following the initial outcry about changes in the rules, some other leading economists have welcomed the decision, saying it simply acknowledges the need to balance stricter oversight with the need to make sure credit keeps flowing.

There was a danger that banks in western Europe would curtail lending in eastern Europe even more severely than they already have, said Erik Berglof, chief economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The development bank, partly owned by the United States as well as European countries, supplies credit to the former Soviet Bloc countries as well as newly democratic countries in the Middle East.

The decision by the Basel Committee this month “was a good thing,” Mr. Berglof said in an interview. “It was particularly good for emerging markets.” In eastern Europe and many developing regions, most banks are foreign owned and dependent on their parent banks for financing.

The Basel Committee’s decisions are not binding and must be put into force by individual countries. The United States has agreed to the rules, but has come under criticism for being too slow to implement them and not sticking to the agreed blueprint. American officials point out that big banks in the country are healthier and already comply with the Basel rules that have yet to take effect.

Mr. Ingves was diplomatic when asked about the United States implementation, pointing out that the European Union is also taking longer to agree on how to apply the rules.

“They are a bit behind schedule but work is being done,” he said. “Both have said they will get this done. I have no doubt they will.”

At the World Economic Forum, the central issue is probably whether the euro zone crisis has reached a turning point. Mr. Ingves, a former official at the International Monetary Fund with decades of experiences in banking crises, was fairly optimistic.

“You never know, but it looks like it,” he said.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/25/amid-criticism-global-rule-maker-defends-regulatory-efforts/?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: A Small-Business Owner Considers the Risks of Expansion

Thinking Entrepreneur

An owner’s dispatches from the front lines.

I was fascinated by the recent case study in The Times about a Seattle-based retailer that decided to open a location on the other side of the country. The piece hit home with me because we’ve often had similar conversations here.

My home furnishing store, Jayson Home, has gotten a lot of attention for its mix of merchandise and the way it is displayed. While the business was certainly affected by the economy and the housing crisis, its sales have been growing for the last few years. We are about to unleash a new Web site, and we are always getting flattering reviews in home décor magazines and on blogs. It is very tempting to think about opening another location, and we have crunched the numbers. But I have resisted, because I have a very different view and understanding of growth than I used to.

When I started my business, I was determined to grow as fast as I could. And I did. The business doubled for a few years, and then continued to grow at double-digit rates. It was quite exhilarating, and exhausting. The words growing and business are often said together like soup and sandwich. Why would you want one without the other? Whether it is to fulfill a dream, to get wealthy, or to create opportunity for your staff, it seems like the natural and ambitious thing to do. These days, it might even be the patriotic thing to do since a growing business will create much-needed jobs. And it makes sense — until it doesn’t make sense.

It really comes down to priorities. Do you want to take outside capital and the “partners” that come with it? Do you want to take on more risk? More employees? More travel? More stress? More potential aggravation? I’ve learned over the years that growth is a complicated animal. Many entrepreneurs just keep entrepreneuring without considering the consequences. It’s hard to turn it off. I know, I am one of those entrepreneurs. And while I can’t say that I have turned it off, I have turned it down. I think things through now. I have some rules of engagement. Maybe I have actually grown up! Probably not. But I have learned one important lesson of entrepreneurship: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The most important word in business just might be no.

I regularly get calls from real estate agents who think they have the perfect location for another location for my home store. No. I regularly get approached by investment bankers who either say they have a buyer (probably fictional) or that they want to invest in my business. No. I get solicitations to buy other businesses. No. (All right, maybe). It gets back to my rules of engagement. I don’t want to answer to anyone except my customers, my employees and my family. No investors. No landlords. I don’t want to be forced to travel more. And, finally, I have figured out that I need more money less than I need more aggravation, which, happily, is at an all-time low.

I have also figured out that business is not just about growth. For one thing, it is also about making a profit, which many companies seem to forget as they grow themselves out of business. Business is also about understanding the reality that bad things happen: recessions, lawsuits, uncollected receivables, new competitors, and assorted calamities like fire, flood and other biblical afflictions. Choosing to over-expand instead of being prepared for this kind of stuff can put the company in jeopardy. It happens all of the time — especially in an economy like we have now.

Sometimes, slowing down the growth is the safer and more responsible thing to do. But that can be boring — and that can be a problem, not just for me but for some of my staff. Terms like economies of scale and synergy get thrown around like catnip to the entrepreneurial cat: More buying power! No more advertising needed! No additional buyers! All resulting in a larger marginal profit!

But I respond with my own terms: More travel! An expensive new lease! More money to lose if the economy tanks again! And last but not least, the second most important word in business: Why? I need to know why exactly I should take the risk. For the money? Maybe yes, maybe no. It’s important to remember that we just might lose money. For ego? That’s always a bad reason. How many entrepreneurs have become financially successful at the cost of their health, family or sanity?

It comes down to not only figuring out what your priorities are but also to recognizing your limitations. That is a word that an entrepreneur in the chase is loath to accept. But we all have limitations, which does not mean you can’t be wealthy, happy and wise. So will we expand? Will we take on some new challenges? Maybe. Probably. But I won’t even think about it until: I have the money to burn. And I have the right people in place to handle the additional responsibilities.

These days, I look before I leap. It is a new concept for me.

Jay Goltz owns five small businesses in Chicago.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=a992fd98a3be6e56e5863a3f9062da6c

Court Convicts Galliano in Anti-Semitism Case

Mr. Galliano, 50, who stood before the panel of judges in a one-day trial in June, did not appear in court to hear the verdict. The suspended fine was less than the $14,000 sought by the prosecutor, Anne de Fontette.

The charge of public insults for reasons of religion, race or ethnicity carried a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $32,175 euro fine.

Mr. Galliano, who was fired as the creative director of Dior when the charges surfaced, had told the French court that he remembered nothing about the incidents and at the time was debilitated by job stress and addiction to Valium and alcohol.

He condemned racism and anti-Semitism and apologized to the victims, saying he had experienced discrimination himself because of his homosexuality.

But the prosecutor had accused him of indulging in an ugly variety of “racism and anti-Semitism of the parking lot and the supermarket.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=9df32992b27baf8a00f28096c4cd3510

You’re the Boss: More on Hiring a Web Developer

Thinking Entrepreneur

My last post elicited some interesting responses. It was a straight-forward account of how I selected my new Web site developer, and some readers took issue with the process we used — in particular a reader named Rob.

“There is a conspicuous absence of someone being made the project manager or point person of this project. Instead, there’s a self-congratulatory tone of how he let other people actually participate and have a say.” — Rob

Well, yes. I am quite proud that I don’t have to do everything myself anymore. I have four key people working for me who have been here for years and who are dealing with the Web sites on a daily basis. I have almost no day-to-day experience with the sites, and I have no need (or desire or patience or ability) to immerse myself in the process. I have capable people who do that everyday.

“And can you really call yourself an entrepreneur if you have no interest in doing any of the work yourself? I don’t think so. Entrepreneurs are not just detail oriented, but interested in details. They are not just quick learners, but they soak in knowledge all around them.” — Rob

Being detail-oriented doesn’t necessarily mean being mired in the details. Others might call the person you describe a micromanager, a control freak, someone they don’t want to work for — or someone who is working in the business rather than on the business. Which isn’t necessarily bad if it makes you happy. But I have never met a successful entrepreneur who didn’t say that it’s important to hire smart people and let them do their thing. As far as not wanting to do anything myself? I used to work 70 to 80 hours a week and go from problem to problem, with a lot of stress. No thanks. My staff helps run the business and in most cases does things better than I could. I have 103 employees. Maybe I have turned into an executive. Does that mean that I am no longer an entrepreneur? Is a mother no longer a mother when her child grows up?

“For the 30 minutes he did sit in on the meeting, he tells the vendor to rat out the employees if they weren’t doing what the vendor said they should be doing. Are you kidding me?” — Rob

Maybe I left the wrong impression. The message to the vendor was to make sure that he understands that I don’t want my people used as an excuse after the fact when something goes wrong. Why would I say that? Because during 33 years of dealing with everything from box suppliers to accounting firms I have seen that things do go wrong. And when they do, you often find out that the vendor knew there was a problem but didn’t feel it was his place to speak up or didn’t want to get an employee in trouble. Not good. Not productive. And not something I want to have happen. As I said in the post, the vendor responded that he operates the same way. My real message was not to rat anyone out. My real message was to work together to get the job done. Period.

“I want a great house. How much will that cost? Well, you can buy an abandoned property in Detroit for $5,000 or a mansion in the Hamptons for $5.5 million.” — J

In my post, I suggested that it would be impossible for us to set a budget for building the site at the outset. First we had to figure out how much it would cost to build a great site. We didn’t just ask, How much does a great Web site cost? We did our homework first, including figuring out the best platform for us. We spent a lot of time reviewing our current site, talking about what we wanted and asking questions. Then the vendor asked us a lot of questions and got us in the right neighborhood — more of a starter home in the Hamptons.

Helpful post, Jay. But c’mon, I would’ve loved to also hear how much the actual quotes were. Was the “double” $10k-20k, or are we talking 100k-200k, or more? — Ed

You’re second guess is more accurate. I hope this gives some further insight, whether you’re spending $10,000 or $100000 (I’ve done both). To each his own Web site!

Jay Goltz owns five small businesses in Chicago.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=1ef131d21408e8e62d4700d13800cef1

You’re the Boss: A Plan for Working on (Not in) the Business

Thinking Entrepreneur

Lots of business owners wish they could be less involved in the day-to-day operations of their businesses (see “It’s Never the Employee“). When you have 10 or even 20 employees, you can be intimately involved in all aspects of the business from sales to finance to operations to purchasing. But if you want the company to grow and perhaps get to that elusive “next level” everyone’s always talking about, you have to build an organization that can get the job done without you managing every detail.

Over the last 33 years, I have gone from running my business with one employee to five, 10, 20, 50 and now 105. For many years I felt like the old-time entertainers who would spin dinner plates on poles, running from one to another as the plates started to slow down and wobble. For me, it wasn’t entertaining at all. It was stressful, it was frustrating and it was exhausting.

Today, I have an organization, and I have less stress and aggravation with 105 employees than when I had 10. It has allowed me to work on marketing, new business opportunities, this blog or absolutely nothing (which I don’t do often). Below are what I believe to be the issues that must be hurdled to make the transition from doer to manager to executive. Naturally, surmounting these hurdles is easier said than done and can take years to accomplish. This list does not have all of the answers but should at least provide you with the right questions to ask yourself.

1. You. You really have to want to get out from under the day-to-day. It requires getting out of your comfort zone, learning new things, and unlearning old habits.

2. Hiring.
If you don’t learn how to hire the right people, you will continue to chase your tail. (This does not come from a fortune cookie; if anything, it comes from a no-fortune cookie.)

3. Standards. A company’s reputation and its customers’ satisfaction will be determined by what a company expects of itself. Setting standards should not be done casually by  whoever happens to be in the driver’s seat. The standards should be well thought out and aggressively communicated, and they should be lived. Whether it is response time or product quality or how clean you keep the bathroom, there are numerous things that define a company.

4. Training. People are not going to figure out everything on their own. And if they do, it will be after messing up orders, customers and your reputation. How many different kinds of customer problems can there be? How many solutions are there? Money back? A credit? Free shipping? An apology letter?

5. Systems, Procedures, Planning and Tools. There are ways to avoid mistakes, to keep track of things and to be more effective and efficient. Every time something goes wrong you should ask yourself, is there something we could have done to avoid this? In my picture-framing business I had special tape measures made that have a one-inch space at the beginning of the tape. People frequently measure from the one-inch mark because it is easier to hold the tape without scratching the art and is more accurate. Guess what? These people sometimes forget to subtract that one inch from the measurement, and everything is cut too big — by one inch. I’m sure our tape measures have saved thousands of dollars and many late orders that would have had to be redone.

6. The Wrong People. Sometimes it is bad hiring, sometimes it is just a bad fit. I used to put out fires all of the time. I finally figured out that it was better to get rid of the arsonists. That doesn’t mean these employees don’t mean well.  It may mean, assuming they have been properly trained and managed, that they can’t do well. This step requires will — as in you will do something about it. Is there anyone working for you that you would be happy to see quit?

7. Delegation. This one seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But delegation only works when you have the right people. And the hardest part is accepting that some of the things that you delegate will not be done as well as you could have done them yourself. You can afford to fix occasional mistakes more easily than you can afford to do everything yourself.

8. Compensation. It is difficult to run a smooth operation if you are constantly losing good people. What is your turnover rate? Do you pay enough, respect enough and provide a pleasant work environment?

9. Feedback. Have you surrounded yourself with yes men and women? I have numerous (15?) people who I believe will tell me the truth. Of course, you have to be able to handle the truth! Sometimes I am wrong, sometimes I am oblivious, sometimes I am delusional. The last thing I want is to stay that way. This is where fear of the boss can do the most damage. Don’t get me wrong, I am not naïve enough to think that no one is afraid of me because I am the boss. I do feel that the lonely-at-the-top thing is very, well, lonely. But there is no greater feeling than knowing that people are with you on a common cause, and you don’t have to read their minds.

10. You, again. Maybe you really like being the sales rep, the production manager or the one doing the work. Maybe you are trying to be someone you are not. I have learned that there is such a thing as big enough. It can be liberating to people who are ambitious to recognize that they have limitations, and that they do not have what it takes to be the next Bill Gates — and that it is O.K. More than O.K.! I have also learned that many entrepreneurs want to hire someone to take care of the things they don’t want to do. I would be very careful about thinking that one person is going to come in and handle everything. Build the organization. Or not. Small can be beautiful.

Bonus Round! Do you find yourself getting mad at employees all of the time? That is a waste of energy and bad for the moral of the company, including the people you never get mad at. It guarantees that no one will want to make decisions. There are three possibilities: you haven’t trained people properly, or you have some people who should be working in a different job (for you or for someone else), or you still think that everyone should think like you. If everyone thought like you, they would own their own business. And then they could have the opportunity to be mad all of the time.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=32e1c151aa0d914306ffc1b85273e8ce