What Every CEO Wants – And Doesn’t Want – In An Employee

Young business manOh, the things I wish I could tell you, but I can’t.

You see the CEO union forbids me to say certain things to you. Not to mention our Board of Directors and the SEC.

I wish I could tell you I am worried about the company’s future. I wish I could tell you how difficult our investors are being. I wish I could tell you…

I wish; I wish; I wish…

Well, let’s talk about what we can talk about:

I know you want to help.
I know you want to win just as badly as I do.
I know you are working hard.
That’s great. I really appreciate it.

Here’s what I would like you, ideal employee, to be:

Be loyal. You see, everyone kisses my ass as CEO. It’s part of the job and ass-kissing certainly makes my ego feel good…for a bit. Then reality sets in, and I wonder whom I can trust.

The answer is I can trust very few people in the company. I would really like you to be one of them. Now, let me be clear. By no means do I mean that you should agree with everything I say. (In fact, that's the last thing the company needs.) However, I do want you to support the decisions we make, even if you don’t agree with them.

Be a positive force. This goes hand-in-hand with loyalty. Everyone likes to complain. It’s normal. I know that. Just don’t be one of those people because you are important. People look up to you, and you have influence.

Your voice and influence can help the company or hurt the company. Please help the company by always being constructive. Think of solutions when you see something that isn’t right.

Do your best. Always. It’s all I, or any CEO can ask, is for you to do the best job you can do. A lot of things can be forgiven when you see people doing their best.

Recruit your friends. I hope you enjoy being here at our growing company. One of the best ways you can help is letting your friends know what a great company we have. Maybe you can ask your friends if they are interested in joining us.

Recruiting your friends is a great way to help ensure our success. Your friends are a known commodity, at least to you. You are likely to not refer someone who isn’t very good.

Have the company’s best interest always in mind. It’s easy to do things that might be in your best interest but aren't in the company’s best interest. Maybe you want to protect an employee who isn’t doing good work any more.

At first, it sounds okay, and I know I may never find out. However, your co-workers will find out, and you will lose credibility with your co-workers.

Own up to your mistakes. As an expert on making mistakes, I can promise you that we all make them. Mistakes are a key part of how we learn. Please, I beg of you, let us know about the mistake you made.

I promise we will not be punitive if you tell us.

Oh, please don’t wait to tell us you made a mistake. We need to know sooner rather than later about the problem. We’ve all seen this one, and I know you have too. You wait until there is no time left for us to do anything before telling us about the problem.

Waiting to tell us about a problem is a killer.

Go the extra mile. I know you are already going the extra mile. It’s part of the reason we hired you. We want people on the team that keep fighting. That’s part of our competitive advantage. Keep going the extra mile to help us succeed.

Provide help when asked. People look up to you. You are a leader, and that’s a reason you are working with us. Always help your fellow employees when they ask for help. I know you are busy and helping requires extra work from you, but helping others allows you and the other employees to succeed.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. There’s an old saying, “He who asks for help is a fool for a short time. He who never asks for help remains a fool forever.”

Have fun! I know your job is demanding, and I know it can be draining. However, I hope you are, for the most part, having fun. After all, work should be fun. You won't just be more fulfilled if you're having fun, you'll be more productive. Guess what that means: if you're more fulfilled and productive, you'll grow faster and further in your career than you otherwise would, and you'll be a lot happier when you're not here.

Next week: My pledge to you, ideal employee.

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