When I first started in business I worked under a false impression. I thought the people who worked in my company were there to serve me. Boy, was I wrong.
In my early twenties I ran from one crisis to another. I was always blaming and often yelling at people for not doing their jobs correctly. My belief was if they only knew how to do their jobs, we wouldn’t have the problems we had.
Finally I made it to thirty and our business was still operating, but not well. Our customers got their products, we weren’t any worse than our competitors, but we also weren’t any better. It was around this time that I started to think about a different way of managing my business.
I started reading that a manager’s job was to make the people with them successful. The authors that I was reading would talk about success for people we worked with being the manager’s responsibility.
I ran across W. Edwards Deming. He was the management genius who brought quality control to Japan and specifically Toyota. Deming would write and truly believed that it was almost never an employee’s fault when things went wrong. It was the manager’s fault instead.
Deming would write that managers were in a position to change how things were done. After reading this and thinking about the implications of these ideas, I started to re-think my management style. I realized that yelling at employees was not only counterproductive but also abusive.
If I wanted to improve the performance of my business I would have to start with my own behavior. I would have to start thinking about what I could do to make those I worked with become successful. I would have to stop blaming others, take responsibility, and do everything I could to make those around me be better.
I developed what I call the servant mentality of management. This is where my job became serving those who worked with me. By serving I mean I had to do everything in my power to make those around me do their jobs well. I had to set the tone, install systems, and make sure we treated our employees as well as our best customers. After all, we can’t expect our employees to do great work if we don’t value them as people.
As I grew older I realized the more I served, the more I got what I wanted. Our company continued to get better, our service improved. We went from being an also ran company to one of the best in our industry. I not only gained a better company, I got a better image of myself and those around me.
When I think about the people I want to surround myself they are the type that want to serve others. I came to believe and understand that great employees started with my own behavior. Once I understood this, I learned how to hire the right people to do the right jobs in our company.
What are your thoughts? Do you think managers should serve those that work for them?
We’ve put together a case study on how to hire for unique abilities. I believe the most important uniqueness is what makes people fit into a company. In the companies I run today that means having a servant mentality towards others. Click on the button below to get your copy of hiring for unique abilities.