After working with advisory firm owners for a long time, I think I’ve heard just about every complaint about employees that you can imagine. Many of them are valid and lead us to work with those employees so that they can make a greater contribution to the success of their firms. But others fall into what I call the “Really?” category, i.e., those in which owner-advisors are simply being overly critical, or more commonly, venting their displeasure with an employee for an unrelated issue.
Either way, here’s my list of nitpicky criticisms that I would love to never hear again. They should also should be a sign for any supervisor to take a step back—and think about what’s really going on.
1. They have a messy desk.
Here’s the deal: some people are just neater than others. If someone isn’t organized, they are probably not going to get organized. What’s more, people are “organized” in different ways. Some of the smartest, most organized people I know have workspaces that look like rats’ nests: picture the movie cliché techno-geek, whose workstation is decorated with candy bar wrappers, soda cans and half-eaten burgers.
We’ve found that the most successful firm owners recognize that people work and organize in very different ways to work best. To get the most out of their employees, they’ve learned to stand back and let them do it their way.
2. They don’t take their laptops home.
After having gone to the expense of providing their employees with laptops so they’ll be more productive, many firm owners have a hard time with employees who seem to never take them out of the office. But what these advisors seem to forget is that in today’s virtual world, the location of one’s computer is practically meaningless. With cell phones, iPads and that thing called the Web, most of us can work from anywhere.
What’s more, probably all of your employees have a computer at home, or access to their spouse’s/significant other’s computer.
3. Using a cell phone, listening to music, and/or other social media at work.
Back in the day, people took cigarette breaks, coffee breaks and hung out at the water cooler. With bottled water, coffee machine, and predominant non-smoking, most employees don’t take those breaks anymore. But in today’s virtual world in which we’re all confronted with an endless stream of questions, requests, projects and problems, they need to take mental vacations—probably more than ever.