Your Employees Don't Have to Like You, But They Have to Love You

When I say your employees "have to love you" it is analogous to someone loving his sibling after that sibling really pissed him off. While they might not agree and are mad as hell, they respect one another and will still be there for them.

Thinking back to college, we had a saying in my fraternity. It was something along the lines of "you don't have to like all of the brothers, but you have to love them." When you have a group of 100+ guys, not everyone is going to like one another. However, if a brother needed help, you were going to be there.

When giving advice to friends, job applicants, etc., I have always said that you have to have respect for your boss. This advice is particularly potent at a smaller company. In fact, if you don't have that respect for the boss, you should look for another job.

I had dinner with an entrepreneur who has been in business for himself for 30+ years and has had hundreds of employees. He had mentioned to me that while several ex-employees might think he was a hard-ass and a jerk, he believes that 100 percent of them have respect for him. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, he said he never had an employee sue him (which is a rarity these days).

There are times when an employee will not agree with a decision that you have made. If the employee is not thinking to him or herself, "well I don't agree with her, but I do believe in her so I will respect the decision," the employee's relationship is doomed to fail and until it does, it will be a painful one.

Of course, there is another side to this. As the boss, you have to have to have a track record of making more right decisions than wrong ones and you have to establish a culture of respect for the company (starting at the top of course).

Regardless of whose fault it is, if the respect and support isn't there, the employee won't give 100 percent and the boss won't have complete confidence in the efforts of the employee. And in this economic climate, anything less than 100 percent won't do. In these cases, the employee has to go and it is in everyone's best interest.

What do you do if you suspect an employee doesn't love you? I have spoken with many entrepreneurs about this. Here is what the consensus is: point out the behaviors that make you feel that you are not getting the respect you should and ask why they are doing those things. Then, state your belief about how they need to respect you (see above) and ask that employee if he or she can get there. Make it easy for them to say no. If they say yes and aren't sincere, you will know in short order.