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What Should An Unhappy Small Business Owner Do?

This marks the sixth month that I've been writing the advice column I was asked to write for the Tampa Bay newspaper, Insight. Things are going super well! So well in fact, that yesterday, their Editor-in-Chief, Alisha Perella, asked me if I would consider doing an advice column for their sister-paper, Epoch. So now I will have not one, but two advice columns running in Tampa area newspapers! So cool, huh? And, on top of that, I've been asked to contribute some feature articles aside from the advice columns. It just keeps gettin' better and better. I love writing, if you couldn't tell...

Once they publish the paper, I have been posting a copy of my columns here for blog readers who don't live in the Tampa area. If you are interested in reading previous columns, click here. This month in Insight, I tackled the the problems of an unhappy small-business owner.



Dear Deanna:

I own a small business and to say I’m feeling strained right now is an understatement. I feel it on so many levels and could go a lot of different directions in asking your advice. But the main factor is a group of the employees that have not been happy about many of my decisions the past year. They continue to work and give a fair performance but at the same time they give off constant vibes that they are not pleased with the decisions I’ve had to make. I am feeling so much tension, it’s wearing on me. The business that used to be my dream is looking more like a nightmare. Sales are decent but morale of a small group within the larger group is low and affects me on a daily basis. I’m at a loss as to how to change them, or have personal peace.

     T.R.

Dear T.R.,

First of all, you can’t change anyone but yourself. Trying to change others is an exercise in futility. A few questions  --

Are you confident that you have made the right decisions, as the owner of this business? Do you have peace that you have done the right thing? Are you happy with you decisions?

If so, you’ve got to stand firm. Leadership is not easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it!  

You long for peace, yet it will always be elusive if you base it on what these few employees do or don’t do. A mentor in business once informed me that at any given time, 20% of the people who are listening to a speaker are not “for them”. They shared this with me after I had told them that I had made a decision I was very confident about, that a few others weren’t happy about. I was concerned about people’s reaction to my decision. They asked, “what do you want?” I said, “I just want everyone to be okay with it.” And they said, “What’s wrong with that statement?”

Suddenly I realized I had a completely unrealistic expectation. 

Everyone will never be okay with what I decide. After hearing the 20% statistic I began to feel blessed in my situation, because not even 20% of the people in my scenario were even aware of or affected by my decision. Yet, I had based so much of my mood around whether EVERYONE was happy.  

 It is doubtful that every single one of your employees will be happy with what you decide. And furthermore it isn’t your job to make them happy. I’m guessing you probably didn’t create the business with the central goal of making your employees happy.  You developed your business to meet a need in the world. You brought employees alongside you to fulfill that goal.  You do want them to be happy but cannot take responsibility for their personal happiness.

If they are not happy and it continues to manifest in attitudes and actions, perhaps you both need to evaluate whether their continuing to serve on the team is a good idea. Sometimes the answer is just a difficult decision waiting to be made.

 Figure out what you want to do, and once you have a peace with it, move forward confidently.

 Mail your questions for future columns to deannashrodes@gmail.com. Due to space and time every question will not appear in the monthly column, however Deanna welcomes you to interact with her where she blogs daily at  www.deannashrodes.net. 

Deanna is an author, speaker and certified coach who loves living in the Tampa Bay area with her husband of 25 years and their three children.

 

 *Photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

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