One of the markers of American culture is the “sticker” on the window of a new car. This document reveals to shoppers a listing of standard equipment and options, plus, of course, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or MSRP.
But what if someone is shopping for an entrepreneur? That may sound silly, but prospective employees do it all the time. Not so much for price, as the list of “equipment.”
You would expect this list of entrepreneurial standard equipment to include characteristics like courage, creativity, perseverance and adaptability. But one trait typically not found on this list that’s essential when entrepreneurs become employers, is patience.
Perhaps one redeeming attribute of an entrepreneur is we’re more impatient with ourselves than anything or anyone else. The reason for this self-directed pressure is because seeking excellence requires that we demand much of ourselves. Unfortunately, that same quest can also make us too impatient with those on whom we depend most—our employees. And while impatience with ourselves can be productive, it can create adverse results when directed at others.
When you think about it, high expectations of key personnel is understandable: They show up every day, just like us; work hard, just like us; and they’re dedicated, just like us. Certainly such evidence of commitment creates the impression that they are just like us. And for many key employees it’s not just an impression. They are committed or they’d work somewhere else. The problem occurs when we’re impatient with our people because they didn’t read our minds.
The road to business failure is paved with stories of key people who quit because someone mistook commitment for ESP. Entrepreneurs lacking this understanding will have key employees wishing they had traded up when they first checked out the sticker on their employer.
So how do entrepreneurs avoid misplaced impatience? Communication. If we demand as much of our staff as we do ourselves, they must have the same information we have, including our plan, strategy, vision, etc.
In 1776 General George Washington said, “We must make the best of mankind as they are, since we cannot have them as we wish.”
Effective communication skills eliminate the need to find employees who are mind readers. Plus, it makes employees more productive since they won’t have to spend so much time trying to make the best of us.
Write this on a rock …
Entrepreneurial patience isn’t standard equipment, but effective communication should be.
Jim Blasingame is author of the award-winning book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.