Asshole behaviour

What does the startup founder director want from team members?

Eddie

Working in a small business is not for everyone.  The working environment is transparent to a degree that many people find uncomfortable (your colleagues and manager, maybe even your directors are likely to be aware of your every move – which is great if you’re performing).  New business is rarely turned away so the only way quality can be maintained and delivery deadlines met is by team members working longer hours; this happens a lot when your small business is growing.  Your founder directors, although appreciative of everyone’s efforts, are always looking for “more”.  Performance issues are likely to be addressed sooner rather than later and perhaps more bluntly than many people are used to or prepared for.  The runway between joining as a newbie and being deemed to “fit in” may be viewed as too short by most.  Also, the swift exit if your colleagues decide you aren’t going to work out is brutal.

Of course – there’s a lot of upside too.  If there wasn’t, no-one would bother putting themselves through startup discomfort & pain.  But that’s not the topic of today’s blog.  Today is about what I as a founder director expect from team members as a minimum.  Here’s my top 10:

1.       Commitment to our customers, to the business and to our common goals.  This covers everything from being on time for meetings, doing your prep, being reliable and a host of other stuff.  Real life recent commitment examples from our own small business are being in the office on a bank holiday because a project review must take place, giving up a Sunday to travel to a company event – even though family plans had already been made, changing plans and flying to see a customer the next day because they needed you to.

2.       Passion about our company, customers, products and mission – this has to be real, it can’t be fake or people can tell.  See my accompanying blog photo of Eddie Ryce from Learning Pool’s sales team if you don’t believe me (photo credits to Paul Clarke & Ruth Cassidy).

3.       Honesty – about where you are, what you’re doing, why something failed, what you think about something.

4.       Hard work and an eye on the prize – yeah – long hours sometimes but an outcomes focused approach where you can easily prioritise what’s important and make sure that’s done first.  Linked to this I expect you to travel in your own time and to make sure all your follow ups and admin are done without anyone having to check or nag you.

5.       Self-sufficiency.  Not everyone has this on Day 1 but everyone needs to strive towards this.  Spending time managing team members’ performance is an overhead I’d rather do without.  You should make it easy for your line manager to manage you.

6.       Self confidence but with it the ability to know when you need help and the confidence to ask for it.

7.       Self-awareness – required to be a good team player.  It should be obvious to you before it is to anyone else when you’re verging on asshole behaviour.

8.       Enjoyment of the here and now.  Everyone wants to and will move up – but try and enjoy what you’re doing to the full when you’re doing it.

9.       Responsiveness – if I’m trying to get hold of you out of hours it’ll be for a good reason.  If I can’t reach you despite having provided you with every device known to mankind (at your request usually) that’s annoying.  Please note – being available in this way isn’t for everyone.

10.   A desire to improve.  Everyone should have this although in truth, some need it more than others.  That’s life!

They’re my top 10.  I’m sure there are loads more.  Keep your comments coming.  I love to receive and read them and so does everyone else.

10 Annoying Behaviours of the prima donna CEO

Baby_crying

We’ve all seen it – the nightmare behaviours of the prima donna MD/CEO.  These are my personal favourites & I can’t wait to hear yours – so please add them in at the comments section below:

1.       Travelling in a different class to everyone else & expecting special treatment everywhere they go.  I used to work for a CEO that travelled business class when our start up could hardly make payroll some months.  Even worse – his PA was sworn to secrecy & if any team members happened to bump into him at the airport or getting on or off a plane, he used to pretend he’d been upgraded.  Pathetic.

2.       Being unable to as much as fart without the involvement of a long suffering PA.  I followed up with a Northern Ireland executive that I’d met in Washington DC about a mutual opportunity we’d discussed when we were in the USA.  He referred me to his PA to book a meeting with him.  I’ve never been back to him since.

3.       Going on & on about how brilliant they are & being the big “I am”.  Linked to this is telling everyone constantly that they are the CEO.  I used to work for a CEO in Belfast (some of you may know him, dear readers…) who at least once a day we would hear shouting from his office “But I am the CEO”…Boy how we used to roll around laughing at that.

4.       Hideous uncalled for temper tantrums.  One CEO I used to work for threw a chair at me one day – and I mean a proper typing chair with a solid metal base.  Had I physically attacked him.  No – I’d caught him in a bad moment & made some comment that he didn’t like & that was the result.  I managed to dodge the chair for anyone who’s wondering.

5.       Spending their investor/shareholder/VC money recklessly – how many times have we seen that?  $50k on a domain name, $150k on a booth used twice a year at conferences, flashy company car, unused apartment in Palo Alto that no-one in the team but the CEO is allowed to use and so on…complete waste of money & no-one dare say anything.

6.       Getting team members to do non job-related stuff for them.  One MD I worked for used to come in late to work & ring in for someone in the office to come out & first of all wait in the car park queue & then park her car.  If I ever get even slightly uppity, Paul says to me – “you’re getting more & more like X” – that puts me straight back into my reality box.  Same MD used to take a taxi from central London to Heathrow airport because she “didn’t like using the tube”.  Other examples of this might be asking members of your team to book personal travel for you or take your cleaning to the dry cleaners.  CEOs – do it yourselves!

7.       Dominating team brainstorming meetings with their own brilliance so that no-one else gets a look-in.

8.       Always hogging the limelight instead of encouraging others to have a go & try taking a lead every now & then.

9.       Leaving meetings when they’ve had their say – their time is clearly so valuable!

10.   Having ridiculous amounts of the latest technology gadgetry – half of which they don’t even know how to use.

I’m sure there are loads & loads more so let’s get them all out there.  This was an easy blog for me to write as I seem to have worked for more than my fair share of CEO assholes over the years (if you’re reading this John Thornton, you are not included in that pile!).  Having said that, it was one of my main drivers for starting my own business as I thought to myself, this really can’t be too hard if that asshole can do it!