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Take Care Of Your People, And They Will Take Care Of You.

Have you seen the quote in the title floating around before? If you haven’t, where have you been? It’s been a favorite among your staff for a while. The actual quote–from Sir Richard Branson, founder of The Virgin Group–goes:

“Take Care Of Your Employees And They’ll Take Care Of Your Business”

If you pay any attention at all to the various industry groups and threads on social media, you’ve seen this quote pop up fairly frequently. If you do follow these groups, you’ll also understand why it keeps showing up. Over and over and over again, you’ll see posts about how someone’s boss wants a cut of the tips; a meme about someone’s car being upside down and a manager asking if they are still coming in; or being unable to go to management because nothing will change.

All of these posts exemplify an issue that should terrify you as a manager. They are all examples of managers not caring about employees. I’ve written about it before, but you need to know how you are affecting your staff, not if. There is no “if” there. You do affect them, but how do you affect them? Do they feel like you aren’t taking care of them? Do they feel like–if they die today–you’ll replace them tomorrow and never think about them again?

Unfortunately, the answer for a lot of you is yes, they do.

If that statement offends you, this article is for you. I say that, because if you are offended that your employees would ever think that of you, you haven’t spent enough time considering your true position in the company. Your position–your job–is to see everything as it, not to inflate your own ego.

If you don’t take the time to consider that your position–your respect–is earned every day, not given, you are going to end up with employees that don’t care if you’re understaffed or not. They aren’t going to put as much effort into their jobs as you want them to.

If you’re more of a boss than a leader, their “under-performance” is going to cause you to create some other goal for them to reach for (that they don’t care about); will cause you to hold another meeting where you beg for their help again (which they will ignore); will cause you to become even more stern and demanding than you were.

None of that is going to work because the problem isn’t them, it’s you. Are you willing to ask yourself if you’re holding the team back? Are you the one that’s under-performing? These are the tough self-reflections that you have to face as a leader. If my saying that makes you uncomfortable, then you don’t belong in the position, and your staff knows it.

“Okay great, so how do I improve? What can I do to make sure that they feel like I’m taking care of them?”

Asking that question means you’re on the right path. It shows that you are actually thinking of the team, not just yourself. The truth is, there is always going to be a love/hate relationship with you. It’s just human nature to be mistrustful of people in leadership positions. You can’t change that. What you can change, is how strongly they feel the love in their love/hate relationship with you.

For starters, you can cultivate that love and respect by leading from the front. You need to work as hard–or harder–than everyone around you. As the one in the leadership position, you set the standard. If your crew sees you cleaning a glass until it is shining like a diamond, they are going to do it too. Remember, literally everybody has mirror neurons that compel them to emulate the people that are part of their group. Particularly those people who are in positions of power.

If there is a sacrifice that needs to be made, you are the first one that will make that sacrifice. You are the one that is willing to come in on your day off. You are the one that will figure out how to get to work when your car doesn’t work. You’ll pull your own wallet out before asking (or telling) your staff to do it. You demonstrate the expectations of conduct and you don’t let anyone get away with any less, especially yourself.

Aside from leading by example, you need to make sure that you aren’t “taking” anything from them. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen posts from people asking if it’s normal for a manager to get tipped out. It is not normal, and it is not good leadership. Your job is to take care of the staff, to make sure they have all of the tools that they need to do their jobs. You reward is happy customers and a busier restaurant. Taking (read “asking for”) anything more than gratification for a job well done is unseemly and unprofessional. It builds resentment among your team.

Finally, you need to disconnect your emotions from the group. You need information. It doesn’t matter if that information offends you, or is something that you don’t want to hear. In fact, some of the most useful information is that which you don’t want to hear. That information is where your risks and opportunities are. That is where your staff’s real opinion of you exists. Being armed with that knowledge, you will be able to adapt and react correctly.

If you are sincere and follow through on those ideas, you’ll begin to establish that you care about your staff, that you know what you’re doing, and that you take your position seriously. It will build trust with the people that you lead. When you have that trust, you’re going to get a staff that will put in extra effort. You get what you give. If you don’t feel like your staff is taking care of you, your demands and changes need to start with yourself. Their reactions will tell you everything you need to know about how well you’re doing.

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