If you own a business, you are seriously passionate about it. I know you are because I’m just like you. You want it to succeed, you want every experience someone has with your company to be stellar, and you think about it 24/7. But let me tell you a little secret: Employees, freelancers, and subcontractors don’t feel the same way about your business. And if that bothers you, you’re being a bit unreasonable.
I know that seems harsh, but think about this idea for a minute. Many people who work for you are there for a paycheck and then they want to go home. Some even really love the industry you are in and love your company. But after a full 8 or 9 hour day, they are ready to check out. To punch the clock. To decompress. That doesn’t mean they don’t care, or that they don’t want to do a great job for you. Most do. I’m just saying that your passion is probably not their passion.
They did not start this business and nurture it, they didn’t worry over it and dream about it. That was you. So expecting someone else to want to think about it over the weekend, to burn the midnight oil, or to come up with great ideas on their own time is unrealistic. Even your very best employees are still never going to feel the same passion that you do. It is your business and it is your dream.
Your personal life is likely completely tied up in your business. But typically those who work for you won’t want to give up their personal time this way. It took me years to understand this. It was only after I became a mom that I understood there were some things more important than my business, even for me. And I had been working hard for likely a dozen years or so before I really relaxed and knew my team was really committed to me and the firm, even when they wanted to leave at 5:00 or 6:00 pm.
They have their own passions and their own dreams. They have families and they like to do what they want in the evenings and on weekends. They daydream about their vacations and about their futures, which may not include you and your company and that’s ok. When I was growing up, it wasn’t unusual for people to work for my family’s company for 30-40 years. Today, it seems I’m lucky if people stay 3 or 4. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t a great part of the team while they were there. Times have changed and so have employees. People have so many options and many fewer barriers to changing jobs. Why shouldn’t they make choices that are right for them? You would do the same. And I know you would want the same for your children, right?
Leaving work at work (or at least wanting to) is normal human behavior. I need a little more of this “normal behavior” in my life sometimes. And though there are some employees and team members who go above and beyond, you are setting yourself up for disappointment to expect them to. It doesn’t mean they don’t care. It means they have boundaries. And you need to understand that and respect it. If you are like me, you may need a few boundaries in your own life. I know it certainly helps us feel more healthy and balanced when we turn our work off and go home to replenish and relax. And don’t we want our team healthy and balanced too? I know I do because they are helping me take care of some of our most precious company assets, our customers!
One thing you can definitely expect from your team, is to do the work you pay them for, on time and competently, or even expertly. And you can even motivate them to get excited about what they do, and to care about it enough to want to help your business improve and grow, to help you get closer to achieving your goals.
You want engaged and motivated employees, and you want them to be invested in your company’s success. But don’t ask them to dream the impossible dream that is uniquely yours because they likely have a dream that’s all their own.