It's Not Always About the Boss


A recent survey conducted among 3,400 employees from 29 countries, including the United States, revealed that 58 percent of employees are dissatisfied with their job, yet 70 percent of these same employees plan to stay in their current job. I can go on and on spouting statistics from survey after survey about poor employee engagement and how unhappy employees are with their job, their boss, their coworkers, their work environment, their lack of career opportunities, the company dress code, the lousy company-funded lunches, etc.

The reality is that bosses aren’t perfect, but neither are employees. Quite frankly, in my client work, I hear way too much bellyaching from employees. They vent their frustration at management in terms of, “You, you, you (management) make me unhappy” vs. taking ownership and control for themselves.

Store owners and managers need to take a stand and start pushing ownership, responsibility and accountability back on their employees in terms of asking them what they want out of their job and career, and what they need from management to be happy and successful in their jobs. Managers need to take a stand and stop taking shrapnel from the fallout of complaining employees.

Ask your employees to be clear and concise -- no vague generalities -- in telling you what you can do as their immediate supervisor to make their job more enjoyable and help them to be more successful in their job. And let me say this right from the beginning: it’s not about more money. Survey after survey has proven that money does not make you happy, more productive and a better employee in the long run. In the short term, yes. Who doesn’t like getting a pay raise? But that feel-good feeling has a positive impact of less than 72 hours, according to a Harvard Business School survey.

Facts of Life
When interviewing employees, and again when your new hires show up for work on their first day, sit them down and explain to them that it is about them, not you. They own their careers and their happiness. You are their boss, not their babysitter. This is a business, not a daycare center. Your job as their boss is to create a work environment where all employees have the opportunity to realize their potential, develop skills, advance their career and have fun in the process.

Explain to your employees that the only person that really matters and counts in the business is the customer. We either take care of the customers or our competitors will. No customers and there are no jobs for any of us -- boss included. When management creates a great workplace where all employees can thrive, the result is a great buying experience for customers. Happy employees equal happy customers.

Consider implementing an Employee Individual Developmental Plan (IDP):

  • Step 1: Employees need to figure out what they want out of their jobs and what type of career plan they want for themselves. Some employees may be perfectly happy remaining as a customer service representative, and that’s great.
  • Step 2: Identify what skills and competencies are required to be a success for each position within your company.
  • Step 3: Compare those required skills and competencies against your employee’s current, demonstrated skills and competencies. This comparison will show you the gap between where your employees currently are and where they need to be if they want to either advance to the next job, or simply be more proficient and successful in their current jobs.
  • Step 4: Sit down with your employees and co-develop their IDP to close the gap.

I found this quote on a wall (not a survey) at health club recently: “You don’t always get what you wish for; you get what you WORK FOR!”

Terry McKenna is principal and co-founder of Convenience Store Coaches & Employee Performance Strategies Inc., where he helps convenience retailers achieve greater financial results by optimizing their workforce. McKenna can be reached at (910) 458-5227 or [email protected]. He also maintains a blog at

Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner.

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