The danger of family thinking

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Marketing Consultancy

For the past year, you have done everything you could to protect your team. Many of you have made some pretty significant sacrifices to make sure your folks had a job, health insurance, etc. during the pandemic.

But as I told you last week, their gratitude for all you’ve done was worn a little thin by November and now, you’ve got people asking for raises, leaving you for other opportunities, and just tapping out.

Behind closed doors, agency owners bemoan their employees behavior and admit that they’re taking the departure personally. It hurts when someone you’ve bent over backwards to help and to grow decides they want to leave. And the conversation usually starts like this, “After everything I’ve done for XYZ, they do this?

The answer is because they don’t think about you the way you think about them. Many agency owners think of their employees as family. As such, they go way above the call of duty to care for and nurture their employees. You might even refer to them as the kids or some other family colloquialism.

But they don’t think of you in the same way. Now, if you have a partner of the opposite gender, they might jokingly refer to you as mom and dad. But that’s in the “if dad says no, ask mom” sort of way.

They like and respect you. They might even love you. But they’re much better at separating their feelings for you from the job itself than agency owners are.

This was true before the pandemic and now that the crisis has passed, it’s true again. In last week’s newsletter I wrote about the shift from gratitude for having a job to asking for a raise. Again — they see the relationship differently. And, may I suggest, they view the relationship in a healthier way than some of us owners do.

Before I get hate mail, I want to be clear. I want you to love your team members. I want you to treat them well, pay them fairly, and create an amazing work environment. I want you to be invested in their growth. My personal goal is to ruin my employees for all others. But some have still left. Because it was the right thing for them, for their family, for their career, etc. We have to know that sooner or later, every employee is going to walk. No one can be indispensable.

We can’t think of the agency as our other family. It’s not healthy for us or the agency. When we think of them as family, we make bad business decisions. We keep a C player because we’re not sure they can get a job anywhere else. We tolerate lousy, corrosive behavior. We neglect to cut payroll when we don’t have the business to support it. We don’t call individuals out when someone disrespects the agency’s values. We go without a paycheck so everyone else gets paid.

They like/love and respect us. And many of them will stick around for a long time. But when they get a job offer for $10K more than we’re paying them, or they can get a promotion they might not get at our place for years — they will leave. Because it helps them get where they want to be.

We need to find a way to have that same healthy view of our employees. We can still love them as people but not be beholden to them for life. Next week we’ll explore how we can begin to make that shift.

Note: Critical Thinking by Drew McLellan of AMI

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