“Yup, you better believe it! How’d you know?”
A business goes through phases, just like personal relationships. When a business, or a couple, get through the “will we or won’t we make it” startup stage they start to settle in. When it looks like they are going to have a future, they feel more secure, and the “new and exciting” phase is over.
In this next stage owners, managers and employees – like couples – establish a working environment. They create long-term habits, working relationships, formal/informal policies and procedures – some good, some bad, some ugly. Eventually, a standard way of doing business is reached, and the company continues along in this way, sometimes forever.
After the working environment is established it becomes business as usual and that is when the “sick of you” cycle crops up. People develop and hold on to gripes, hurt feelings, irritations, misunderstandings, and grievances. Eventually, the employees are sick of each other, the owner and managers. The owner and managers become sick of each other and the employees.
It is real, and people can become stuck in this cycle. It can be very damaging to a company if not dealt with. Let’s look at how it might be playing out in your business, and what to do about it.
It is normal
The sick of you cycle happens all the time, in all types of businesses. It is human nature and no one has developed a cure for it, nor will they. People get tired, discouraged, overwhelmed, and self-absorbed at work. All people – especially and including owners.
What to Do: When you have a functioning, stable company, it will take care of itself, just wait it out. Remember, it is normal and something will come along (i.e., new product or customer, a resolution to a problem, new perks/benefits, completed project, a holiday, change in weather/season, local sports team does well) to nudge the cycle into an upswing.
But, what if it does not?
Be aware the cycle is happening and make sure it does not go on too long. If it goes on too long, your company may not be as stable or functional as you think it is. This can be a warning sign that you have problems. Find out what the issues are and fix them.
It is too chaotic
Often, when a company gets stuck in a “sick of you” cycle, it is because the culture is too chaotic, disorganized and unpredictable. The owner, supervisors, and employees are unproductive, irresponsible, inconsistent, distracted and not successful in their jobs.
They become resistant, worn out, apathetic, tired of the drama and resigned to “nothing ever gets better” mentality. Each distrusts the others and become emotionally, mentally and spiritually exhausted – every day becomes a never-ending episode of the blame game.
What to Do: Stop, take a breath, assess and be willing to listen to others. This particular problem can always benefit from an outside pair of eyes. Owners are too close to the situation to evaluate it accurately. You should be able to answer all the following questions factually.
Why is your company chaotic? Why do you not have control over it? As the owner, how are you part of the problem? How many ideas, plans, and strategies do you have and never follow through with? Can your employees count on you keeping your word or do you have a lot of excuses for not being trustworthy.
It is too boring
Are you and your employees sick of each other because the work day is same old, same old? Familiarity can breed contempt, dissatisfaction, and boredom.
A solid, stable business is what owners want – consistent income, reliable employees, and good selling products/services. However, solid and stable can quickly turn into mundane and rote. Everyone gets bored, but when they get too bored they call off, produce less, stir things up and create problems.
What to Do: Create something new you and your employees can get excited about. It is dangerous to let complacency go on too long, do not allow it to become stagnation.
Here are some ideas owners have implemented to keep things interesting: new product development, go after a different customer base, increase customer satisfaction, sponsor an internal/external sports team, hold a charity event, internal employee/team/crew competitions, annual company party, apprentice/mentoring program, etc.
Even in the best of relationships, people get sick of each other, but the feelings are short-lived and quickly pass. If you and your employees are feeling this way frequently and for extended periods of time it is a sign that your company is having difficulty. Commit to doing something about it – you have put too much time, energy and money into your business to be miserable.