Would you describe yourself as a "pleaser"? Women in our culture are often raised to please others with the same intensity that China raises Olympic gymnasts to compete--early on and with great expectations.
While it's not life-threatening and doesn't prevent us from growing up, becoming educated or starting a business, over-pleaser's syndrome (my term), or OPS, can compromise our quality of life. Considering how many people we interact with--employees, investors, customers, vendors--the cost of pleasing everyone can be detrimental to our sanity and, ultimately, our bottom line.
One area where pleasing others can create the most risk is an entrepreneur's relationship with her employees. One weary business owner hired new employees to free her from working weekends. Yet she found herself working alone in her business for the third weekend in a row, even though she'd hired others to cover the weekend shifts.
"Everybody had unavoidable conflicts, so here I am again," she complained. "I do not want to seem unreasonable or have them hate me, but why am I working on the weekends instead of my employees?"
This woman had a clear case of OPS--a numbing acceptance of circumstances brought on by her desire to please (and not alienate) her employees, rather than be supported by those she hired.
Here's a five-point self-evaluation to help you determine whether you're susceptible to--or already tainted with--a chronic and business-debilitating case of the dreaded OPS.
- Are you a crutch for your employees? If you design your schedule around your employees, cater to their work requirements and preferences or perform any part of their job, then you're acting like a classic over-pleaser. Your employees surely appreciate your willingness to take on their workloads, but you risk becoming their crutch instead of their leader.
- Do your employees report to you or do you chase after them for updates? If you find yourself checking, chasing or repeatedly requesting updates from employees to find out what is going on in your own business, you need to try something different. The "hate to bother you . . ." management approach is a classic trait of serial pleasers. But it harms your business by keeping you out of the loop on daily and important developments.
- Do you counsel employees on their personal troubles? If you spend any part of your day listening to or counseling employees about their personal problems, you may be running a shelter instead of a business. Worse, if you subsidize housing or transportation for your employees, loan them money, hire lawyers for them or grant time off that isn't accounted for, your business may become a costly vehicle for enablement rather than a profitable place of employment. You compromise your future if you focus on providing shelter for troubled souls. Has it happened already?
- Are your employees not paying for themselves? Do your employees justify their pay through productivity? Employees must deliver value greater than all the costs incurred in hiring, training and retaining them. Otherwise, keeping employees becomes another extension of pleasing vs. being accountable to your business's success. This dead-end situation causes long-term consequences for you and your company.
- Do your employees make more money than you do? If you're not taking home more money than your employees, you've set yourself up for problems. Business owners shouldn't go without a paycheck or get paid less than their employees. This signals fiscal scarcity and OPS behavior that is both risky and dangerous to the health of your business.
How did you do? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a kind and compassionate person known for having a heart of gold. Good for you. But you're likely a pleaser, and your OPS could put your much-beloved employees (and you) out on the street, so to speak. This, in the end, pleases no one.