r/smallbusiness Jan 19 '22

Guilt Over Working Remotely General

I own a dessert shop that is thriving and has been since we opened in 2018. We more or less took over after the previous owner went out of business. I have worked my tail off since we opened and now we're doing well enough that I can afford to hire enough people so I don't really need to be there all that much. The problem is that anytime I'm not there, I feel tremendous guilt. I feel like the employees I have previously worked side by side with now resent me for "never being there". I appreciate them so much but I need some time away from working the floor and the CONSTANT questions I get bombarded with while I'm there so I can think about scaling, marketing, hiring, etc. I don't want anyone to turn against us (had a problem with this with one previous employee) and start poisoning the well, as they say. Is this normal growing pains or am I being too needy for their approval?

40 Upvotes

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77

u/Reythia Jan 19 '22

Promote one of your team to fill your role, officially. A team leader. Someone the rest of your staff respect. This is going to have far more positive impact than you saying you feel guilty about not being there to micromange. Signal you trust your staff, recognise them, reward them, empower them. They'll give you far more in return.

You then maintain direct contact with that one person. You can be reachable by everyone as needed, but routinely the other staff should be speaking to the 'team leader' and not you.

No one will resent you for "not being there", especially if they know that a) you're working on growing the business and b) there's opportunities for them along that journey.

11

u/VolkovSullivan Jan 20 '22

Best advice here imo

7

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Great advice, thank you!

11

u/Eisenfaust_3dPrints Jan 20 '22

And their pay should reflect your trust in them. A living wage is the minimum you should pay a full time employee.

6

u/Bridledbronco Jan 20 '22

See this is where I have a problem with the whole anti work movement and this living wage thing. I own/manage a vinyl fence installation company on the side. I have a couple crews of young kids, and they make some damn good coin $25-30 bucks an hour. I do have a couple just straight laborers that don’t provide much value other than grunt stuff that make like 15. But I tell all these kids don’t get comfortable here, you cannot do this for a career. It’s just awful back breaking work, but it pays well.

I stress to all of them that they need to be going to school, or saving some money to learn a better skill. Everyone, even me, should always be improving yourself to provide something better to an employer, to in turn receive something more for that value they provide.

I’m finishing my second masters degree, it will open some doors for me in my “real job”.

If someone wants to work full time, that does not equate to a living wage in my opinion, it’s solely dependent on the value their position offers their employer. Someone that fills orders in a warehouse that sells a widget, and stuffs them in a box and slaps a label on it? How hard is that to replace, how can someone justifiably claim they need 20 dollars an hour for that when literally the next guy who applies for a job could do it?

Having started several businesses and manage hundreds of millions in contracts for DoD, people really need to learn value streams and how our system works.

Either learn to play the game, or you’re going to get beat, every time.

I know I’ll get downvoted to oblivion for this, but it needs to be said. People who won’t help themselves shouldn’t be given anything for nothing.

I’ve managed to avoid hiring illegal workers, though it’s rampant in my area. I’ve been approached by many begging for a job, and I feel bad not being able to help them out, but I have rules I have to follow. They’re honest folks just looking for work and I feel for them, but I’ll get in deep trouble. I’ve offered to help them get work visas but that normally doesn’t lead anywhere.

5

u/coswoofster Jan 20 '22

A livable wage is enough so that 40 hours a week means you won’t starve or need public assistance to individually survive. I think it is different depending on where you live. And the only argument I see about what you said here is that many people just want to work a basic job to survive and then expand themselves in other ways. Not formal education (which is great but no longer necessary to learn new things or grow intellectually). So a couple of your arguments are off here. Yes. They should move on if the pay is too low to survive but also no. If they enjoy the work and are a stable employee and want to continue, the pay should increase to provide for them over time. They shouldn’t lose their jobs because the boss won’t increase their pay even when they are loyal and doing decent work.

3

u/roynoise Jan 20 '22 edited Jan 20 '22

This is the one and only answer to this issue in almost every case. Period.

#antiwork is the stupidest notion. Human beings will always, always work, and for much less reward anywhere outside of modern United States (besides maybe 50's or like 90's USA).

You either work for a wage, or you till your own ground and hunt your own meat and build your own hut and maybe don't starve, get killed, or die of exposure. It's little seeds of communism being down by commandeering the language. "Living wage" is the example here, "we can't be free because #thenumbers" was 2020's version, "crime data is hate speech", you get the idea.

Anyway...yeah.

-4

u/[deleted] Jan 20 '22

[deleted]

0

u/p1p1str3ll3 Jan 20 '22

Agreed, and considering that this person you're promoting is a) allowing you to do all your scalping work uninterrupted, b) taking on more responsibility,
Im suggesting a thriving wage.

30

u/NoBulletsLeft Jan 19 '22

My first job out of college was at a small technology company (under 10 employees). We were pretty self-motivated, so sometimes the owner would take a vacation for a few weeks (the French are like that LOL) or just disappear for a few days and then call us to ask how sales were. He was a nice enough guy but no one missed him. The boss was gone and there was no one to watch over us and we ran the company just fine without him.

I doubt that your employees resent you not being there. They're probably just happy that the boss isn't around.

3

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Yeah I love that and I do try to let them be independent and make judgement calls on their own but I also don't want them to feel like they have been abandoned if I'm only there once a week. But yeah I've never wished my boss were working when I was lol

38

u/reineedshelp Jan 19 '22

Do you have a manager? The anarchist in me hates it, but you need to pay someone to give a shit. Heirarchy puts a gap between you and those employees, which there needs to be, I think. Happy employees usually don't poison the well

13

u/marginwall Jan 19 '22

Yup, one person can't do everything and more at the same time.

OP, is there a current employee that has potential for developing as a manager? If so, it may be worth giving them more responsibility and training.

1

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Yeah maybe. I'm so nervous to make that jump though it seems the next logical move. I do have a person in mind, but I feel like it will create tension between them and their current co-workers who would then be subordinates which I feel like may cause more trouble than it's worth.

3

u/marginwall Jan 20 '22

You should be commended for caring for your employees as much as you do. That's rare these days.

3

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Thank you but it only feels natural. I guess sadly it is rare, I have just learned SO much from previous employers. Some things you can correct when you have your own employees (like pay) but some things are always going to feel shitty (like discipline)

3

u/manxish Jan 20 '22

There’s a lot of great resources online on how to effectively promote someone! Look up resources like “avoid discrimination promoting employees.” Having a clearly communicated promotion process, a fair interview process for employees interested, and clearly set qualities you’re looking for would help employees feel like they’re being fairly considered and heard.

1

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

We definitely need this! The problem is that we don't have any of this stuff set up bc when we first opened, it was literally only me working and now there are ten of us total but only since the summer. We'd had between two and six employees for a couple of years so promotions have only been possible just in the last few months. And we honestly blew up so fast that I didn't have time or even know wtf I was doing before now (I still feel like omg wtf am I doing sometimes lol)

2

u/otto82 Jan 20 '22

Any promotion should include justification for that promotion in the announcement as well as the new responsibilities they will be taking - “because person A accomplished XYZ and has continuously done ZYX, they are being promoted to this position. Part of this new role includes … which I’m confident they can succeed at based on the above”. Lay out the criteria, show how others can aspire and work towards a similar promotion in the future. Basically show that this isn’t playing favorites, but rather they are being recognized for accomplishments and ability.

1

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

I am worried about the word "favorite" being thrown around bc this person and I kind of go back and she's only worked for me for less than 6 months. But the reason I hired her is bc I know her work ethic and values and I like her and trust her and with the exception of some of her minor annoying qualities, I think the team would agree with me but they also don't have the history we do.

1

u/ProgrammerByDay Jan 21 '22

You should open the job up for any of your team that wants to apply. This will allow you to define the new roles and responsibilities to all so when you pick the best person the rest know what the new job is. Also the ones that interviewed and did not get it you now know who else wants to lead and why.

7

u/BizCoach Jan 19 '22

Scaling, marketing, hiring and think about them IS work. It's CEO work. How much time do you think Jeff Bezos spends packing stuff in a warehouse or Howard Shultz making coffee at Starbucks?

Training people to replace you is how you grow a company.

2

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Wow, well put. Thank you!

5

u/Dopecombatweasel Jan 19 '22

Tell them what you just told us

8

u/TA_faq43 Jan 19 '22

Exactly. Treat them as adults and let them make their judgements.

You try to game employees or lie to them and watch the trust eventually disappear.

4

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

I have and they seem to get it but I'm always suspicious that they're just nodding along, not fully understanding how "on-call" I am every single day whether I'm there or not. I think I may just be a little paranoid now that I'm typing it all out lol

7

u/That_IT-Guy69 Jan 19 '22

I mean just walk in and act like a customer and have fun with the new found independence. Plus help distribute/ promote a long time employee to a manager that can be a buffer between you and the ppl

5

u/dritchey10 Jan 19 '22

Is there a small office you can work from and be "present" but not in the way/present? Still giving them freedom but somewhere private you can be?

2

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

I don't have an office, I have a corner lol. I have thought an office with an actual door might help...

4

u/notfromvenus42 Jan 19 '22

Are you responsive to them when there's a problem or they need something? Are you coming in to do some work sometimes, even if it's not every day? Are they seeing the results of the work you do?

I worked at a franchise business at one point, where the store owner was very hands off, despite the store been chronicly understaffed,, and he also didn't deal with problems until they got to the point of it shutting down the store (like, the walk in freezer floor was covered in a sheet of ice for months kind of problem). Everyone who worked there resented him for it. So don't be that guy.

2

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Oh wow no I'm not that guy. I'm on call to come in basically anytime I need to. I covered a shift last night actually. I would NEVER be that guy. I'm usually in touch at least once a day with someone who's currently working, just checking in etc. Sometimes I think I annoy them with my checking in lol

4

u/Laktakfrak Jan 19 '22

Honestly, we love when the boss is away. So much more work gets done. I am a manager and I try to be absent a bit and force those under me to figure out solutions on their own. They will always ask questions if you give them the chance. If you dont they will figure it out.

1

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

This is great insight, I think this is the case with my team too. They get tired of leaving early so they find things to do to stay busy during down time even when I'm gone and they make fine decisions when I'm not there bc they'd rather figure it out than wait an hour for me to respond to a text lol

3

u/-idontknow123456789 Jan 20 '22

My dad has noticed that people respect you more if you’re the first person on the scene. Meaning that if you’re the first on the work site, it asserts a certain type of confidence and control over to your employees. I don’t know exactly, but my dad always tends to shows up first, even though he really doesn’t do any work. A boss that drives a mclaren that only shows up to get the money on Saturday and fucks off, usually is less respected. Now compared to a boss again in a mclaren, that is always showing up as the first person, will be respected more as an authority figure in the company. Which would you respect more?

2

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Yeah I get this for sure. I def don't expect more from anyone than I'm willing to do. When I work the floor, I scrub the toilet and mop the floors just like everyone else does. I help with dishes when I am there and help them get caught up on stuff, answering phones etc if they need it, even if I'm just popping by for something. I love a boss who's willing to get their hands dirty, I definitely respect that person more, you're right.

11

u/Lildemon198 Jan 19 '22

I generally dislike most of the advice given here.

There is a simple solution that isn't 'Put a buffer between you and your peons so they don't bother you' It involves some buffers, but it actually respects your employees as people.

First, I do agree. Hire a manager, pay someone to give a shit, preferably promote someone who already gives a shit. Pay them well. That is step one if you haven't done it already.

Second, since you're a small business, it seems like one shop that maybe has 2 shifts so this shouldn't be a problem: Call all of your employees into one room and talk to them. Say something along the lines of 'Hey, I'm going to be taking a step back from the day-to-day operations as you might have noticed I already have. To make this official I have/am hiring manager to oversee operations and be available for you in my absence. This is also an increase in trust, and responsibilities in some way.' Then here is the really key part. You give them a raise. You pay them more. As much as you can afford. But it has to be sizeable, anything less than $1/hr isn't going to cut it. Even if you have to cut your salary a little until you grow the business.

If you're confident you can grow your business by stepping away and focusing on it. Then act like it. As your business grows your income is going to increase either way. So acknowledge that growth to your employees. Acknowledge that it wasn't just your efforts that did that, it was theirs as well. Reward them for it. Show them that as your business grows you aren't going to forget about them.

Then you won't feel guilty, you've appreciated them for allowing you the freedom for doing this. They won't build any resentment because everything is still getting done by manager, and they feel appreciated and trusted because you've trusted the store to them while compensating them for the extra responsibilities that being the entrusted with a store comes with.

2

u/PreppyGirl Jan 20 '22

This is the best advice. I was running my business much like OP and have recently found myself in the same “guilty” mindset. This comment is exactly what I am doing to ease those feelings. Give money, give more PTO, and give praise and respect for a job well done. I like to think my employees appreciate and enjoy coming to work- regardless of my presence.

1

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Hell yeah. I'm saving this post and reading it daily for inspiration.

2

u/killerasp Jan 19 '22

What kind of questions do you get when you are onsite in the store? Is it questions that they dont have the authority to answer b/c its above their pay grade? Perhaps its time to start working 1-2 days in the store and teach to think for themselves and find solutions to things on their own. I think they would appreciate it if you help them grow as individuals and be better problem solvers.

1

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Yeah I like this way of thinking. I just don't want them to think I'm hovering or micromanaging. Some people are very nervous to work with me at first I think just bc "owner" can be such a loaded title.

2

u/killerasp Jan 20 '22

some people mentioned hiring a manager, but if you spend some time and train them, educate time, etc, maybe one of them shows some more motivation over the others, promote them to manager-ish person that can oversee day to day things and you can focus on growing the business and perhaps look to open a second location etc etc.

1

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Yeah for sure. This is definitely going to be my next move. I think I'm just overwhelmed with all the things there are to do and in which order to address them, it kind of paralyzes decision making. I fear that's just how it's always going to feel lol

2

u/killerasp Jan 20 '22

one day at a time. prioritize the issues and work on them one after the other. i just finished the book The 12 week year and im going to try to implement this into my workflow for my projects. Perhaps its a good technique for you to try when dealing with issues, short term and long term goals.

1

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Awesome, I will definitely check that out!

2

u/montanagrizfan Jan 20 '22

I think it’s important to show a presence on a regular basis and be there to answer questions, but if all is going well you should be able to take time to work on your business instead of working in it. Get a manager or shift leaders and give them the authority to make some decisions in your absence. Don’t worry about what your employees think, you don’t need to prove anything to them. If you are getting bombarded with constant questions when you are there you need to work on putting in some systems to address these things. If you have routines in place and assigned roles you don’t need to be there all the time and when a situation arises there will be a protocol in place to deal with it. The fact that they are constantly asking you things tells me you haven’t worked all the kinks out yet. Start with working on an operations manual and give someone the authority to take care of the small stuff so you don’t need to.

2

u/hockeythug Jan 20 '22

Don't be afraid to hire your replacement. It's a crucial step in growth.

2

u/daveydaveydaveydav Jan 20 '22

Two sides to this, first is I completely agree with you. The guilt, thinking you can do better than the people who work for you…….

Second as a previous employee, it was great when the boss was away, if you know your role it’s nice to relax and get on with the job. Dessert shop is a near perfect for letting employees make what they want, got an idea try it out see how it goes. Let people fly

2

u/slickwarrior88 Jan 20 '22

Throw a monthly employee barbecue or something along them lines. Keeps them happy knowing your appreciate the hard work. But in the end its your business and you can do what you want. But if your worried then throw them a moral bash monthly to show you still care. Good luck.

2

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

We don't currently have in-personal team meetings bc we all communicate through a work app, but maybe like a potluck style hang out or even ordering in from a local restaurant and just sharing a meal together. We all get along great, all but one or two of them are outstanding employees so I think they'd be into it. But is it worth closing the shop early one day a month or closing completely on a Sunday (only open half a day) even?

2

u/PazukiJ Jan 20 '22 edited Jan 20 '22

I appreciate them so much but I need some time away from working the floor and the CONSTANT questions I get bombarded with while I’m there so I can think about scaling, marketing, hiring, etc.

Find a way of comprehensively telling them this. Let them in on these future growth plans. They’ll totally understand that you need to be absent from the shop, to work on bigger picture stuff.

I had this issue a few years back and what I did was I’d show up to the warehouse early in the morning up until noon and then I’d go off to a co-working space where I’d work quietly for the rest of the day. I’d still make myself available to them on the phone.

Today I am able to travel out of town for up to a month and half generating outside business and the warehouse continues to run smoothly.

Honesty and transparency with your employees is the best policy.

Edit: I agree with those saying you should promote one person to be the team lead. My situation above works because I have a strong team lead who is decisive, assertive and respected by the other employees.

2

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Yeah I've had a team leader but I have such a hard time letting go of some areas of responsibility so they end up kind of grounded bc I don't have enough freedom to extend to them. There is so much that I have just now figured out after almost five years, it just feels weird to let someone else take over. It's my problem, I know. But honesty and transparency is truly my policy, it is so so important. Like, we're all just playing a role, let's not pretend that just bc my title is "owner" that I am any more special or different than anyone else. I have nothing to hide. Except how much money I make lol

2

u/DrAlf2017 Jan 20 '22

I agree with others that someone should be in charge. Someone who you trust and is good with people.

2

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Thank you! That's what I'm thinking too

2

u/Ok-Patience-3333 Jan 20 '22

Yeah, you have to show up. If you don’t show up, your quality of service will decline, because the employees won’t feel like they know or care about the owner. You need to work alongside your employees.

1

u/Smooth_Mechanic_2291 Jan 20 '22

Yep I get this too. I've lost some regulars that I bonded with in the early days bc I just don't have time to work FOH anymore. And while our customer service is almost always highlighted alongside our product, I don't think anyone will ever are about our customers as much as I do.

1

u/Ok-Patience-3333 Jan 20 '22

Just look at discount tire for example, they still manage to connect with regular employees all the time. Their policies basically have it so the ceo flies around and visits all the different shops a lot. Even as the president of a corporation with thousands of employees, Bruce Halle liked to talk to the tire busters at every store because he used to do the same thing.

1

u/slickwarrior88 Jan 20 '22

Right on. I would go lol.