We work in a small start-up company for a really great guy. He’s a true visionary and we feel lucky to be working with him. When he brought us onboard, he told us we’d be working our butts off getting this thing off the ground, but that we’d all be part of a team – including him. He was right about the work, which includes long hours and a lot of nights and weekends, but we all really care about what we’re trying to create. And when he’s here, he works as hard or harder than anyone. The thing is, he’s the only one of us who has children, and he’s always leaving early to attend their school programs, coach their sports events on weekends, etc., while we’re left to make sure the work gets done and the deadlines are met. He’s a nice person and the rest of us genuinely like him – and his kids – but it doesn’t seem fair, and it isn’t how teams are supposed to be.
A.It’s not fair. But not that he is leaving to spend time with his kids while you do the work. What’s not fair is that he didn’t make the organizational structure clear to you when you were hired. He is the boss, and presumably the owner, of the company. You are his employees. While that doesn’t give him license to cheat or mistreat you, it does give him the right to delegate and schedule work as he sees fit. It also gives him responsibilities that you don’t share. And I’m not talking about responsibilities to his children. I mean the responsibilities implicit in keeping a small business afloat and the rest of you employed.
But he screwed up when he described the work group as a team and included himself as one of the players, rather than as the coach, quarterback or manager. Most successful organizations, whether in business, sports or government, have someone who is in charge. But “boss” can be a four-letter word, with very negative connotations in today’s workforce. I’m not saying it’s impossible to have a successful organization that functions entirely by group consensus and with total equality. What I’m saying is, your company isn’t one of them, and your boss (pardon my language) did you a disservice by not admitting that to you – and probably to himself – at the start.
All that said, you have two choices: You can tell him how you feel. I doubt he’ll spend his time differently as a result, because it’s unlikely he’ll care more about disappointing his employees than his children. But it will probably help him be more honest with himself and his employees in the future. Or, you can just accept that the boss gets special privileges, and enjoy being part of an exciting new venture with a someone you obviously admire.
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