My Employees Reviewed me, and I Kind of Suck
I am the CEO at Happy Cog, a digital design studio. We have offices in New York, Philadelphia, and Austin. We have been growing. We now have 33 employees, up from just north of 20 a few months ago. As I write this, I’m on an airplane to Austin to talk strategy with my business partner Greg and to meet some new employees I’ve never met in person. That is goddamn crazy to me. The scale of our operation has really changed from back when it was me and a few contractors taking conference calls in my dining room.
We have a 360 degree peer feedback evaluation we do as part of our formal annual employee reviews. Over the past couple of years, I’ve conveniently left myself off the review roster. Not that I think I don’t deserve the feedback, but I’d definitely be lying if I said I made it a priority. After all, it was quite literally my blood, sweat, and tears that got my part of this company off the ground seven years ago, so I deserve some kind of special dispensation, right? Diplomatic immunity!
After repeated “You know, we oughtta…” conversations with Greg, we both finally put ourselves on the review schedule.
Well, the results are in, and you know what? Mine kind of suck. They weren’t off-the-charts horrible (there were a few “best boss ever” comments that gave me a Michael Scott kind of feeling), but there were way more “needs improvement” marks that I ever anticipated. Because I anticipated none. And some of the comments people left was like chewing aluminum foil. My first reaction was surprise. Then defensiveness. Maybe a bit of anger. I thought things like, “Well, Steve Jobs had issues, but Apple turned out just fine. It’ll be ok, Greg. Grab a beer.”
So what came through loud and clear?
- I can’t let go. Of basically anything. And I leave talented people looking for stuff to do because I won’t take the time to show them.
- I make snap decisions without consulting others. I’m impatient.
- I spend less and less time with each employee. Some know very little about me, and I about them.
- I get defensive
- I’m inconsistent