Image by Jordan Whitfield
Owners vs. Employees
One thing obvious, though often somehow overlooked by business owners – your employees do not have your motivation to achieve. Never have, never will. It should be clear that:
- Owners invest their time and money. They take a (calculated) risk, having a lot to gain and a lot to lose in the end, hence their motivation and commitment.
- Employees sell their time and competence in exchange for money. It’s a business contract, usually in the format “this amount of time performing this set of activities for this amount of money”.
Owners can control if the work is delivered up to standard, as with any other business partner. Mistaking (and expecting) the owner commitment with the commitment associated with a business contract is delusional. More of a problem in SMBs, but sometimes present in enterprises as well.
Do you expect the electricity company to care about your success? No, they deliver, you pay. Do you expect your suppliers to go the extra mile so you can succeed? No, they deliver, you pay. This is how business contracts work.
If you expect owner-type commitment you should be prepared to give up ownership – ranging from management to equity. If you employ someone, you should not expect (and demand) more than the contract says. Simple as that.
This post (as well as the one on Human Capital (over)utilization) was inspired by a talk with a friend – an employee, who had unrealistic expectations from a startup owner boss: “We all push ourselves to the limit, I work 16 hours a day. I expect you to be 100% on the job during the day and learn what you lack in knowledge at home. We all do.”
My advice was to look for another job, preferably at a company which does not rush to fail in the very near future.
Learn how to turn employees into owners in the follow-up.
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Tags: commitment, motivation, small and medium business, strategy