Joining a small business has its rewards but it also has its own risks. For one, not everyone is suited to join a small and medium business. Here are some aspects of the workplace culture that one needs to be aware of.
Excessive dependence on the owner or founder:
The loyalty of most employees is often to the founder, rather than to the company or its articulated vision, mission or values. Things happen because the founder is involved in a hands-on manner. People come early if he is there, stay late if he is likely to observe it.
Conversely, it is difficult for other managers to command significant authority. If a new manager tries doing so, before long, the owner´s ears are filled by some of his “loyalists”. The founder tries recruiting senior managers from outside, but soon finds them incompetent; little realising that it is his own style and the culture he has created that is responsible. In frustration, he falls back on the old guard—the trusted loyalists.
Before you join a small organisation, find out how many new managers have survived there, or are you the latest in a long line of managers who do not stay long.
Lack of robust processes for communication, performance management, rewards and recognition:
The only relevant communication, is from the owner. All other forums where the owner is not present, is ineffective. “Impression management” becomes important for managers and true bottom up communication is not encouraged. Since the owner is hands-on, formal processes of the above are not developed.
The author is CEO of The Great Place to Work® Institute, India.