Lifelong employment in an age of short term gratification

If you are thinking about taking the plunge, quitting that desk job of yours, becoming your own boss, the first thing you ought to ask yourself is, “Do you love solving problems?”

Many people only see the glamour of being your own boss, which are manifold of course (provided you are successful). These include:

1) Freedom to work in an area you enjoy (Subject to constraints of market behaviour and demand)
2) Flexibility to work when you want, where you want
3) Public acknowledgement if you are successful (Shame, and “I told you so” attitudes if you fail though)
4) MONEY, and its associated benefits
5) Plus its just awesome when your staff add a prefix “Boss” to your name (Joking hehe, although I likes it! :-p)

What they don’t see are the challenges a business owner faces day to day.

My father put it most aptly to me in saying that as a businessman, you are esentially a firefighter.

A fire pops out somewhere, you rush there to put it out, as soon as it is out, another one is bound to pop up somewhere else. You only hope that you don’t have too many fires to handle or one that burns out of control, so you can get back up and fight the next fire.

As simple an explanation as this is, it is the most profound advice my father has given me, and one I hold close to my heart in trying times. On a separate note, 28th November (today), is my dad’s birthday, so do wish him happy birthday too in my comments feed if you are reading this.

We’ve faced many challenges in the history of our company. Timothy and myself started Netccentric on the 8th of August 2006, its been six years, by any measure of a business, its a short time.

And yet, in many ways it feels both like we’ve seen everything, and learnt everything, and seen nothing and learnt nothing at the same time.

We’ve built an amazing company, with an amazing culture, and one that has grown rapidly at first, and now steadily, and one would think it gets easier, or more predictable. But because we are dealing with the most complicated resource of all, people, it never does.

So what is this rant about you ask?

Well, it seems ironic, that after having just dispensed advice about building a great company culture, in recent months, both me and tim have found that one of the growing pains of the company is we seem to be losing some of our pioneer staff.

Don’t get me wrong, its not as if the flood gates have opened up, and nuffies are flooding through the doors. But i’ve always taken it incredibly seriously, when a pioneer or an important nuffie leaves, its one too many. We’ve had nuffies, who just could not fit into the culture, or just did not have the heart or will to meet the standards, but those are not the ones I’m concerned about.

I’m candid and open about this serious issue, because I’m candid and open with my staff. They know everything that goes on, and I see no reason to stop that.

As a long term and strategic planner, my vision for the company has always been.

1) A mutually loving culture
2) A place where you enjoy your work
3) A place you can build your career, earn a keep, and if committed and talented, build personal wealth
4) A place you are a part of, as much as the place is a part of you

Tim’s ideology is largely similar.

I believe, we’ve achieved these things to a large degree within the Netccentric group. And yet, we face a problem, because you build these things generally, and they encompass a static set of rules with dynamic variables, but the one thing you cannot equate for is the key variable, and that is the employee themselves.

I started out this post by talking about the challenges you might face as a boss, and I’m ending it by saying, I’ve determined, at this point, what is likely to be my biggest challenge of all.

How do I provide and promote lifelong employment in an age of short term gratification? The grass is always greener on the other side, but how do we keep our grass in plain sight, and nurture and grow our pastures, so the ones that matter will never want to leave?

Its a question that has been on my mind for a while now, and one I intend to address at our upcoming company retreat to ….

Yes … paradise! Just 11 months after our last retreat to Chiang Mai!

Penny for your thoughts in the NuffnangX conversations box below.

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