So, a month ago you sacked your boss. You’ve worked your notice, and today is the first day of your new life with no-one to answer to – master of your own destiny.
Most of us have been there – working for a poor boss, and dreading going to work each day. No clear targets, no feedback on performance, no meaningful personal reviews. And worst of all – the boss has no more knowledge & experience than you. Yet his big house, the flash car, the sharp suits, nice holidays, trophy wife – they all rely on your efforts. Hardly fair. And this one’s no different to many you’ve had to work for before. It’s little wonder that you bailed out, and decided to start up on your own.
So now you work for yourself; you’re your own boss; you’re self-employed.
Let’s just take a minute to look at what that actually means. You’re now self employed – you’re employed by you. So as well as being the one doing the work – the employee – you’re also the employer. And guess what? This boss has no more knowledge and experience than you – just like the old one!
But this boss is going to set clear targets. This boss is going to track your performance, too. In fact the performance review dates are already in the diary. And there’s a clear personal development programme in place – you’ve identified your learning & training needs, and the new boss has set aside a budget and a schedule for your personal and professional development. Right? Thought so.
The trouble is, it’s hard to be hard on yourself. So when you miss the Q1 target, how are you going to deal with the inevitable excuses? After all, it’s you creating them isn’t it, so of course they are real reasons. And it’s you hearing them too, so of course you’ll accept them, won’t you? And when Q2 doesn’t quite live up to the (revised) plan, chances are there’ll be a good reason for that. Thank goodness you no longer have an unreasonable boss!
What was that? Oh, that was one of the problems with the old boss – you never knew where you stood; never knew what was set in stone and what was flexible. Hmmm….
So how are you going to get around the problem of managing yourself? For some people, it’s not a problem – they really can self-manage. They were the ones back in corporate who told the boss what targets they were going to hit – and hit them – and gave early warning of problems and presented solutions in advance to head them off. If they ever got into corporate at all – most who developed those traits early on, quickly went into business for themselves. But not everyone is like that – some need clearer guidance. Like me – I’m a great implementer, but I’m apt to get bogged down in detail.
So who’s going to provide that guidance – the direction needed to keep you on track? You could hire a coach – someone who will challenge you to justify your performance and your figures. They’ll probably get you to question your attitude too. What they generally won’t do is haul you over the coals if you’re falling behind, or going off track.
What I find works for me is to project the situation five years into the future, to the business I intend to have then – the one in the plan I started out with. So now I’m the boss – with the big car, the fancy holidays, the sharp suits, the trophy wife (OK, maybe not that bit, I like the real one I’ve got). And all of that depends on how well my employees are performing – or how well I am inspiring them to perform to be exact.
And in the persona of the boss-in-5-years-time, I look at how my employees are performing in their jobs right now. Are they committed and doing the right things at the right time, or are they feeding me a load of lame excuses for their shortcomings? Of course, I don’t actually have any employees yet – but I do employ someone to carry at all the roles in the company. I’m self employed: I employ myself. So my employee review covers myself in all my various roles.
So if I’m falling down on telemarketing or sales follow-up, I want to know why that is. And I don’t accept lame excuses – I make it very clear that I can’t afford to carry dead weight, so I’ll have to replace myself if things don’t improve. Which means I’ll be out of a job. Conversely, if I’m doing a great job on the admin and the filing, I congratulate myself. And I offer myself the opportunity to take on additional duties – maybe some telephone calls to customers or prospects?
Self-employed? Then BE your own boss!