Managing Employees and Lessons from Ebenezer Scrooge

December 16, 2011  |   San Diego Bookkeeping   |     |   Comments Off on Managing Employees and Lessons from Ebenezer Scrooge

Leading employees to be productive workers who take ownership and perform their best regardless of the oversight they are working under is probably one of the biggest challenges of being a small business owner.

If you do it right the rewards are tremendous but very few owners have had any training or practical experience in doing it. The lucky ones worked under someone whose management style worked well and which they can later emulate but this is the exception not the rule.

Many of us either never had a great boss or else we had decidedly terrible bosses and so learning to be a good manager was a trial and error exercise. Fortunately, being a good manager is really not that hard and requires mostly common sense and a level-headed approach.

In my experience, it can be broken down to a few simple rules:

  • treat everyone equally and fairly
  • praise often in public and never criticize in public
  • set clear expectations
  • be open minded
  • provide adequate training
  • if someone is really not working out, let them go

If you need help getting your employees on track and performing at their best, we do offer consulting services which can help achieve that goal and faster and probably easier than you were thinking.

Here are some more ideas from an article on being a good manager from a classic movie:

When the young Ebenezer Scrooge was an apprentice in A Christmas Carol, his master was Mr. Fezziwig, the proprietor of a warehouse business.  Mr. Fezziwig was a cheerful man who mentors Scrooge with kindness and generosity, and shows great affection towards his employees.

Years later when Scrooge is master himself, he revisits Fezziwig as the ghost of Christmas Past.  Now, the old miser, Scrooge, is haunted by the stark contrast between his own management style and that of his mentor.  Scrooge notices Fezziwig could have made his life difficult during his apprenticeship, but instead, made it fun.  Scrooge is reminded of how much he once appreciated Fezziwig and is filled with gratitude. “Was there ever such an employer?” he cries to his younger self.

What did Mr. Fezziwig do to create an exceptional workplace?  Research has shown that there are three key traits that all exceptional workplaces share.  Employees of companies recognized as the Top 100 Best Companies list trust as the primary reason for their greater cooperation and strong commitment to their company.  In A Christmas Carol, Mr. Fezziwig trusted his employees to work diligently and rewarded them with time off for the holiday.

Another common denominator with exceptional workplaces is the strong sense of pride that employees have toward their employers.  An employee will work harder if he or she has this pride, and you can’t foster it if you don’t treat employees with dignity and respect.  In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge feels the pain of his behavior through his employee’s lack of pride.

A third key trait of exceptional workplaces is the value they place on the internal customer.  Honoring and respecting employees through open, transparent, and two-way communication goes a long way.  As he watches Fezziwig interact with people, the light dawns on Scrooge.

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