The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
While The Cats Are Away, The Mice Will Play
A typical workplace, no matter where you are in the world, consists of different positions to make the business hierarchy work. You generally have a CEO, a boss who runs a specific department, a manager, supervisor, or several, and then you have the common workers, or worker bees.
Each position holds a specific rank and a set of job responsibilities. The CEO generally controls the direction of the company, comes up with new ideas and innovative ways for the company to profit and prosper. You have the “big boss”, who generally oversees that departments are doing what they are supposed to be doing and bringing in that profit. The “big boss” will have several managers and supervisors to ensure that work is being done correctly. The managers and supervisors are the direct overseers of the workers, or worker bees, who actually do the work for the company and bring in that profit. The workers are usually the ones who produce the desired outcome and deal directly with the consumers, customers, and clients. It may be different for different businesses, but this is generally how it all works and comes together.
Depending on a business size, the amount of employees, and how the system is set up, it would be safe to assume that without the CEO, the boss would have no direction, and without the boss, the managers or supervisors would have no direction, and without the supervisors and managers, the workers would have no direction, and business would come to a screeching halt because one of these is missing, even if temporary from the business hierarchy.
Would your business still continue to run well if one of these was removed? Without workers, obviously, nothing would be done. Without a manager or supervisor to watch over these workers, no work would be done, or would it? How self-sufficient does a company train its workers to be? Would the business still function if there was an absence, temporarily, of the CEO, boss, or supervisor? More importantly, how much does your business need to babysit its workers to ensure the company is still productive and profitable?
A business is certainly nothing and has no chance of survival without a demand for it. A look into the history of businesses world-wide would let you know that thousands of businesses come into existence every year, but only a few “handfuls” actually survive past their first five years, in fact, 80% of businesses fail within the first 18 months. These are usually startups with a CEO and just a handful employees who believed that their product and business would be marketable and there was a demand for it and unfortunately, may have found out the hard way.
The issue is not that there isn’t a demand for the product, but rather, in a world of a millions of businesses, the business is just a needle in a haystack and has yet to be discovered. Luckily, your business has a great chance of being discovered, but it is more likely that your marketing, branding, and advertising practices are lacking, whether it be in your local area, on the Internet, or in social media. There is always hope, and it is never easy, but it is possible.
Considering that the general worker does understand that they need to do work in order to bring in income, and the general mindset, in most companies is that of a bee colony, in which all the bees work hard to make honey, and are commanded by the Queen, though bees are much more efficient than human workers, the concept is still generally the same: “For the Company! (Queen)” It would only make sense that if the bosses go away, the workers will still assume the day like any normal day.
In the company that I work for, the bosses went away for a week, on a business meeting, in which they do what they do, and considering I work in Public Relations, I can only assume they are getting the 411 on the latest technology, web practices, business practices, etc. Now there was no doubt in my mind that once our bosses were gone, as they have left before for extended periods of time, that my company will still function the way it always has. An interesting phenomena that I keep observing occurs though when there are no bosses present: The workplace is far quieter and the workers seem far more productive.
There is still some idle chatter, but for the most part, everyone sits at their desks, continues to do the job they were hired to do, and the workplace goes on, without the supervisors and managers, without the “big boss”, and without the CEO, who is very rarely ever seen anyway. Is it the workers who assume the responsibility of doing their jobs or is it that the workplace has trained its employees to do their jobs, even if one or two parts of the business hierarchy are missing.
Could it be that in my business, we work on a deadline and metrics system, in which we must return the final product back to the client within a set time period, and without any mistakes? Although I do not work in a department that tracks error metrics, the majority of my company does run on that system. New hires are usually gone in 3 months time, as too many mistakes in the field of media relations and news relations could lead to lawsuits if our company messes up. Therefore, it is imperative that the workers who are on a metrics-based system do not mess up and meet their deadlines, as everything they do is seen by a computer log system.
Several years ago, I did work for a much smaller company, and for a boss, whom hardly ever took a day off, but there were those rare times, where he would get sick or had a business trip, but his distrust of his employees was so bad that he would make an effort to call the office every half hour to ensure everything was running smoothly and okay. Of course it was! We were there to do a job and we did it like we always did. His calling us every half hour actually prevented us from doing our own jobs, because his paranoia was so great that we could barely trust him to trust us to run his business in his absence. The even sadder part of this story for this boss, who still remains in business to this day, is the fact that he lived about 10 minutes from his workplace, and would even sometimes stop into “spy” on his employees on days he should have not even been there because he was “out of town” or “away on business” or on “personal day” or “sick day”.
If a business cannot run without a boss or supervisor being there, than those who are in charge of the business must question the type of employees being hired. While it would be perfectly understandable that in a fast food restaurant, where there are teenagers present, that have not yet hit the rightful age of eighteen, or are still in high school, may need supervision. In the corporate world, however, where people are making a living, and perform the same routine each day, it is highly unlikely that they would just show up to work and be unproductive, especially a business that deals with customers or clients.
For the most part, it can be assumed that with professionally trained employees left to run a business for a few days, while the boss is out, everything should run smoothly. This is not to say that there may not be problems, but employees who are left alone should know what to do in any and all circumstances and emergencies. If employees cannot be trusted to be alone while ensuring the business continues to run, the business definitely has bigger problems.
If you are the boss or the CEO of a company and your paranoia goes straight to the roof and you have anxiety about your business falling apart while you leave your employees to run the business for a few days while you are out on business, you may need to rethink your business structure. This does not mean that as the boss or CEO, you get to go on vacation and disappear for weeks at a time, but to have the peace of mind knowing that you can leave the business for three days or even up to a week once a year is when you know your business is grounded and your employees actually do respect you and your company. It is also a great respect that you show towards your employees by trusting them. There is no greater respect than trusting people to run your business while you are away.
If you are an employee working for a company, you already know what you have to do and the absence of any boss does not give you permission to disrespect the company. As an employee, whether the boss is present or not, you should respect the company and do the same job and tasks as you would do if the boss were present. The boss trusts you enough to leave you to run the business and there is no greater respect and value than to know that you were left to keep the business going as usual.
As much as it is sometimes a relief to have a boss or manager go on vacation every once in a while, there is still a job to do and tasks that need to be done. It is very beneficial and respectful to be trusted as employee and boss to ensure the business continues to run the way it always does, regardless of who is present or not. The absence of a CEO, boss, manager, or supervisor in the workplace is probably the greatest privilege of being an adult in the workplace, because that is the ultimate trust. Sure, we are getting paid to do our jobs, but the relationship among everyone is mutual and symbiotic, because everyone needs each other, in order to make it all work.