Hey Boss, Disengage and Relax!

I have to say up front that this newsletter is one of those, “Do as I say and not what I have done most of my career!” newsletters. When business is good The Boss is almost always in a good mood and it’s good to have him around. But when times are tough, The Boss can be a real pain!

I had a client who was a specialty machine shop that made custom machine parts on demand. The Boss #1 was the founder of the company and was transitioning the business to his son, The Boss #2. My job was to coach The Boss #2 through the transition until The Boss #1 was convinced his son could run the place. Now the only thing more frustrating than having one boss is having two bosses, especially for employees who are trying their best to do their jobs in stressful times. So, coaching the employees through the transition was an added responsibility I did for the business’s sake.

The transition went as smoothly as you could imagine and afterward, The Boss #1 did retire, sort of – the most a founder can retire, which means he only visited a few hours a week to see what was happening. The son became The Boss and we worked together for some time. One issue the business had was 50% of their business was with one large customer who used this company exclusively for their custom machined parts. Later that year the large customer was bought out by a competitor and the new owners decided to use several custom machine shops for parts. The result was The Boss lost about 45% of his business within a few months. A great reason to diversify your customer base, which is a topic for a different newsletter.

As the revenue began to decrease The Boss’s stress began to increase. I would ask The Boss on Monday what he did over the weekend, he would reply, “I worked the whole weekend!” This lifestyle began to drain on the business and especially the employees. I tried to explain to The Boss that disengaging, and relaxing was essential for him to be the best Boss he could be. I remember years ago when I was a young business owner, I did the same thing, and lucky for me, I had help at home. If you are a regular reader of my newsletters, you might remember me saying that my wife is my best advisor, but I just don’t listen to her as much as I should. When I was working too much, being a pain at home and work and super stressed out, she used to look at me and, in her best “chairwomen of the board” voice, she would say, “You need to go workout!” I appreciated the advice (okay, it was really an order), and I would go and run or take a long hike and clear my mind. I learned that this time away was very valuable for me and I do it today without being told. You see, I really am a lifelong learner.

As The Boss, you should learn to disengage your mind from the pressures of today so you can see past the trees into the forest. I used to feel the business closing in on me like being wrapped in a blanket from head to toe. You can imagine how smothering that would feel to The Boss. This situation is not healthy for The Boss, The Boss’s loved ones at home, the employees, and ultimately the business. If you think about it, it is damaging to everything The Boss is working so hard for. Step back and disengage, this will allow you to truly relax. You will come back to work refreshed and rejuvenated. I would highly recommend that you listen to your “Chairwomen or Chairman” of your board when they say, “you need to go workout!” Some of our most valuable advisors are the people who know us the best and the people we cannot bullshit. Be that lifelong learner and enjoy life to the fullest!