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Why Working In A Small Company Kicks Ass

Why Working In A Small Company Kicks Ass

Studies have shown that the happiness of a person in their job starts to decrease dramatically after the firm passes one hundred employees. What is it about small companies that makes us so happy? I can’t tell you the number of entrepreneurs that went to found their own business because life at the big company basically sucked. Opportunities you spent years building up to — gone. Credit for your efforts — nowhere. A feeling of value in the machine — hell no. My personal experience in co-founding Twoodo and knowing many people who made the switch over the years adds substance to the hypothesis.

It used to be that large companies offered security and perks that small companies couldn’t live up to. However, those old stereotypes are disappearing as small companies (past the early stage of development) are stepping up with equal or better contracts.

small-biz-office-culture

    What is a “small company” anyway?

    There’s the micro company (1 – 10 employees) and then the small company (<50 employees) (European Union). In the USA it depends more on the firm turnover. You can take a look at the overview of how every country in the world defines a small company here. Small companies are often lumped in with medium companies and called SMEs (small medium enterprises).

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    What are scientists saying about small companies?

    The paper finds that Generations X and Y are seeking equivalent values and satisfaction outcomes from SMEs. It is seeking very caring, environmentally concerned, and sensitive SMEs.Tangible and intangible benefits, empowerment and respect, workplace involvement, concern for employee welfare and supportive management are critical. (City College Thessaloniki, Greece)

    From this study, we can see that there is a shift from “climbing the corporate ladder” to searching for fulfilling and meaningful jobs. This is healthy — there is only so much room at the top in any case. It also means people aiming for jobs that they are happier in, and happier employees mean better quality work and higher proclivity to voluntarily lend a hand in times of crisis or be more flexible. Perhaps lessons handed down from our parents in the 70s, 80s, and 90s have pushed us to find more appropriate jobs, rather than jobs that have a high financial reward.  Or perhaps the expansion of the worldwide middle class has impacted on choosing our careers less out of fear and more out of satisfaction.

    What makes small companies so successful at being great places to work? 

    The secret sauce for a great small company seems to be how it is managed. Logically, it is easier to properly manage a small group of people than a large group. Here’s a table from another study that defined five statements that impacted on employee satisfaction (ref: International Human Resource Management Journal, 2007):

    1) Working here is informal and relaxed.

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    2) Working here is like being part of a team/family.

    3) Company success is shared by all employees.

    4) I would leave this company if offered another/similar job.

    5) Employees are treated fairly by management.

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    results-study-work-for-small-company

      The conclusions from this show that people generally:

      • don’t want a highly-formalized workplace.
      • have an emotional need to feel like an integral part of the success of the company.
      • need to feel appreciated and close to their work colleagues.
      • react well if they perceive management to treat everyone equally.

      It really boils down to a question you must ask yourself every day: WHY AM I DOING THIS JOB?

      Most of your (fully-functioning) adult life you are going to be at your job. It should be the perfect fit.

      A survey of 200 UK graduates commissioned by Give A Grad A Go found:

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      • 91% believed big corporations paid more.
      • 79% felt they provided greater job security.
      • 74% felt they offered better career progression. 

      But they felt that SMEs:

      • encouraged creativity in the workplace (95%).
      • provided greater job satisfaction (82%).
      • encouraged a better work ethic (75%).
      • provide a better work-life balance.

      does-management-notice-me

        Does management notice me?

        Not only will working in a small company give you access to all levels of management, but decisions will be made faster and progression will be more visible. Your part in the operation will be more obvious and therefore more motivating. You won’t be restricted by department or hierarchy. Ideas on the fly can be pitched and discussed without needing to book formal meetings with the boss-man. The inevitable variety of the job will also keep your mind stimulated (and improve your general learning capabilities).

        AND — you get to skip all those corporate networking events :D

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        Last Updated on July 15, 2019

        10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them

        10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them

        This is an article I didn’t want to write. Even if it appears that way on the surface, few things are black and white. Between the two colors is a world of gray. Notwithstanding the bosses who behave criminally, some of the people who carry the “bad boss” label have possibly been, or have the capacity to become, a “good boss.”

        This is an article I didn’t want to write because I understand that depending on whom you ask, many of us could be labeled either a good or bad boss.

        Perhaps another reason I didn’t want to write this article is because context matters. Context for the organization and context for the individual. What is happening in the organization? What is the culture? Is the “boss” in a position for which the individual is equipped to do the job? Is the person in a terrible place in life? The office culture, the relationship a team member has with a boss or board and the leader’s personal life can all influence how the person shows up and leads and how others perceive the individual.

        But since I am writing this article, I will share a few signs that bosses are bad and in need of a timeout.

        1. Bad Bosses Don’t Know and Haven’t Healed Their Inner Child

        If you plan to lead people – well, if you plan to effectively lead yourself – you must get reacquainted with your inner child. Just because you are in young adulthood, middle age or the golden years doesn’t mean your inner child matches your chronological age. If you experienced trauma as a child, your inner child may be stuck at the point or age of that trauma. While you walk around in a woman’s size 10 shoe, your behavior may showcase an inner child who is much younger.

        In a June 7, 2008, Psychology Today article, Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D., observed,[1]

        “The fact is that the majority of so-called adults are not truly adults at all. We all get older … But, psychologically speaking, this is not adulthood. True adulthood hinges on acknowledging, accepting, and taking responsibility for loving and parenting one’s own inner child. For most adults, this never happens. Instead, their inner child has been denied, neglected, disparaged, abandoned or rejected. We are told by society to ‘grow up,’ putting childish things aside. To become adults, we’ve been taught that our inner child—representing our child-like capacity for innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity and playfulness—must be stifled, quarantined or even killed. The inner child comprises and potentiates these positive qualities. But it also holds our accumulated childhood hurts, traumas, fears and angers.”

        Sometimes the key that your inner child needs tending to is conflict with someone else’s inner child.

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        Good bosses are aware of the ups and downs of their childhood, have worked or are working to heal their inner child and are aware of their triggers. Good managers use this awareness to manage themselves, and their interactions with others. Bad bosses are oblivious to how their inner child impacts not only their life but the lives of others.

        2. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Accept Feedback

        Bad bosses are not intentional about creating an environment where their peers and colleagues can share feedback about their leadership. They don’t solicit feedback. Given the power dynamic that managers, CEOs and others in leadership yield, they must go out of their way to solicit feedback, and they must do so repeatedly.

        Before being completely honest, most team members will test the waters and share low-stakes information to get a sense for how their boss will respond. If the boss is angry or retaliatory, team members are less likely to risk being candid in the future.

        So being unable to accept feedback takes on two forms: failing to proactively and repeatedly ask for feedback and reacting poorly when feedback is shared.

        3. Bad Bosses Are Unwilling to Give Timely Feedback

        The flip side of accepting feedback is giving feedback. Both require courage. It takes courage to open yourself up and accept feedback on ways that you need to grow. Similarly, it takes courage to share honest feedback about a team member’s or colleague’s performance or behavior.

        Since not everyone is open to accepting feedback, whether they’re a manager or not, having an honest conversation about areas a team member or colleague has missed the mark, is not always easy. Still, good bosses will find a way to share feedback, and they’ll do so in a timely fashion.

        Withholding feedback and sharing it months after a situation has unfolded or in a snowball fashion is unhelpful to the employees. One of the ways we grow as leaders is through feedback. When people have the courage to tell us the truth, that information allows us to progress.

        4. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Acknowledge Their Mistakes

        Owning their mistakes is like a disease to bad bosses; they do not want it. Instead of being risk averse, they are accountability averse. The problem is that they can only gloss over their weaknesses or failures for so long; the people around are able to see their flaws and weaknesses, and bad bosses pretending they don’t exist is not helpful. It is infuriating.

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        However, bad bosses are masterful at reassigning blame. They are unable or unwilling to accept responsibility for mistakes — small or large. But career expert Amanda Augustine told CNBC “Make It” in May 2017, that “good managers also admit their mistakes.”[2] They don’t pass the blame or pretend they didn’t make a mistake. They own it.

        5. Bad Bosses Are Unwilling or Incapable of Being Vulnerable

        Vulnerability is an underrated leadership skill. But well-placed and well-thought out vulnerability enables employees to see their leaders’ humanity, and it creates a way for leaders to bond with their teams.

        Bad bosses may talk about vulnerability, but they don’t practice it in their own lives, particularly in the workplace.

        6. Privately, Bad Bosses Do Not Live Up to the Organization’s Stated Values

        Bad bosses may publicly spout the values of the organization they work for, but privately they either don’t believe or don’t embody those values.

        If they work for an environmental group, they may not practice sustainability in their private lives. Their words and actions are incongruent.

        7. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Inspire Others

        When bad bosses are unable or unwilling to take the time to inspire others, they lead through fear or command. Neither are helpful.

        A culture dominated by fear will stifle creativity and risk taking that can lead to innovation. An autocratic management style will have a similar effect in that team, members will not feel they have the space to step outside of the box they have been placed in.

        A good boss is someone who takes time to share the big picture and time to inspire their teams to want to be a part of it.

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        8. Bad Bosses Are Disinterested in How Their Behavior Impacts Others

        They are narcissistic and focused on self-preservation. In “19 Traits of a Bad Boss,” Kevin Sheridan said,[3]

        “Terrible bosses are endlessly self-centered. Everything is about them and not the people they manage or what is going on in their employees’ personal lives. It is never about the team, but rather all about how good they look. Conversely, great bosses lead with integrity, honesty, care, and authenticity.”

        Rather than seeing their team’s talents and seeing people’s full humanity, bad bosses believe their team exists to serve them. Families, personal life and priorities be damned. Bona fide bad bosses believe that their comfort should be prioritized over their team’s needs and desires.

        9. Bad Bosses Have Likely Received Negative Feedback

        Bad bosses have likely been told that they are poor supervisors. They have likely been told time and time again that their behavior is harmful to the people around them.

        Perhaps they do not know how to change or are unwilling to change. But bad bosses certainly have received clues, insights and direct feedback that their management style and behavior are harmful to others.

        Even when someone hasn’t explicitly said, “Your behavior is harmful to me and others,” the absence of feedback indicates a problem. It can mean that the leader’s team doesn’t feel safe enough to share feedback, that people do not believe the leader will act on what is shared, or that people have determine the best strategy is to avoid the boss as much as possible.

        10. Bad Bosses Are Perfectionists

        Bad bosses are driven by an internal urge to be perfect. Perfectionists don’t just want to be perfect; they want everyone around them to be perfect as well. This is a standard that neither they nor their team can live up to.

        Since perfection is illusive, they spend their time chasing their shadow and being frustrated that they cannot catch it. They are unable to enjoy the journey and often block others from doing so as well. They let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.” Rather than embracing a growth mindset that desires to learn and improved, they are compulsive and toxic.

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        If you are like me and you see yourself in parts of this list, do not despair. A bad boss can change. The key is seeking honest feedback and being willing to work through that feedback and your triggers with a therapist or coach.

        The Bottom Line

        Regardless of your age and the mistakes you have made, you can change and become a healthier leader whom others respect and appreciate.

        Conversely, if you are employed by a bad boss, do everything in your power to take care of yourself. Understand that your boss’s behavior, even if directed at you, is not about you. Your boss’s reactions, if and when you make a mistake, is a reflection on that individual, not you.

        To survive the work environment, think about the lesson you are meant to learn. You can do this with a trusted therapist or capable coach. However, if you deem the work environment to be toxic and harmful to your health, seek employment elsewhere.

        In the end, this is an article I did not want to write, but I’m happy I did.

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        Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

        Reference

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