“I also believe that it is absolutely crucial that – as an employer – I need to trust these guys’ opinion and back their decisions with conviction, because they are much more talented, skilled & experienced in those areas. If we didn’t hire guys that were better than the co-founders in some way, we’d stagnate pretty quickly, since the company could only grow at the speed at which we could grow as individuals. Hiring a team that is better than you though, drives the momentum of that growth / innovation forward exponentially.”—
A saying that’s a bit of a broken record around CoSupport HQ is, “Use your judgment.” I say it a lot - probably enough that CoSupporters are sick of hearing it. But it’s not something I’m ever going to give up saying to employees because I may be one of the few CEOs out there who admittedly wants their employees to actually use their own judgment.
This habit started a long time ago when I used to train support folks at my previous employer. It was really a default answer when I was overloaded with questions from eager new hires; “Figure it out on your own” was the basic undertone. Eventually it became a mantra to mean, “You know the best answer, so go with your gut.”
I remember once having an employee respond almost every time I said this with, “I’m still getting used to that”. I struck me how rare it is for employers to empower their workers to think for themselves and make decisions. That is really, really sad.
In running this business, I like to get out of the way. The first thing I do is hire people I trust, believe in, and am impressed by - people I know can do the job and do it well. Once I’ve done that my work is pretty much over. It’s up to them to prove themselves and do the great work I expect. If I hover or instruct or supervise, they won’t be doing that great work for their own pride and enjoyment, they’d be doing it for mine. And if I spend a lot of time keeping a record of their wrongs and weaknesses, those are going to be manufactured by my own judgment.
Employees need room to blossom, to prove themselves, to learn their own strengths and improve on processes set long ago. They also need room to display their weaknesses naturally.
You ever try to type with someone watching over your shoulder? I bet you type a thousand words a minute flawlessly and your fingers can glide across the keyboard like fire. But put someone next to you who is going to watch you type a sentence or a webaddress and suddenly “www” turns into “WwwW” backspace backspace backspace.
It’s the same with people who work for you. You hired them, so let them go do their good work. If they ask you for advice on a refund for an irritated customer, tell them, “Use your judgment.” If they ask what’s the best practice for delivering a design package, tell them, “Use your judgement.”
If they ask you if they can take two weeks off for vacation right before the close of a huge client project, tell them, “Use your judgment.” And if they choose to go on that vacation, you’ve learned a great deal about that very judgment they have.