Creating jobs from hell

Lots of us, including myself, have started businesses to get out of "jobs from hell". We assume we can work for ourselves better than working for someone who has "perfected the art of mismanagement". We believe we understand ourselves better than we will ever get understood by another. We also think we are far more insightful into the customers, their unmet needs and their unanswered complaints. We launch an enterprise with a value proposition that we've designed to be exceptional and far more responsive than the employer's package deal we've left behind. 

We fall into another pitfall when customers are not buying what we're selling. For unknown reasons, our superior value proposition has become a tough sell. The customers appear to need a lot of convincing, educating and enticing to get them to say "yes". We morph the sales responsibilities into a pressure cooker that sales leads find repulsive and sales people dread each day of work. We have fallen into the pitfall of creating jobs from hell. We believe the sales effort has to be pushy and insistent in spite of evidence that customers are full of excuses and giving sales the runaround. We're convinced the solution lies in "trying harder to make sales" since there is no obvious alternative for trying smarter or backing off to succeed. 

When sales responsibilities resemble jobs from hell, so do most other jobs in the fledgling enterprise. The nightmare of mismanagement we sought to escape by launching a startup haunts us still. Sales support becomes non existent. Quality assurance, cost controls and productivity fall apart. Employees fail to take responsibility for problems or initiative to prevent problems from occurring. There is a noticeable lack of cooperation, coordination, communication and commitment. Relationships have turned adversarial, distant and manipulative. A groundswell of backbiting, gossip mongering and office politics rears its ugly head. The problems with sales are merely the symptoms of much more pervasive, dysfunctional systems.

This pitfall can be avoided by using management approaches that:
  • Regard employees as internal customers who will serve the real customers in turn -- as well as they are served, respected, listened to and supported.
  • Consider employees to be equally entrepreneurial, using the employment experience to advance their careers and refine their abilities to create value.
  • Show employees the respect of trusting their own judgement in defining their job description and appraising their performance with the help of their peers and internal customers.
  • Creating an internal marketplace for new ideas, process revisions, strategy refinements, and cost savings - where the best get rewarded and each gets acknowledged.
Each of these sends an unmistakable message to each employee of understanding, validation and gratitude for their contribution. Each employee gets under the impression they can make a difference and get recognition for their initiatives. Each gets much more value out of the working for and working together with others than in jobs where they simply "do their job".

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