Of course businesses aren't stupid, in fact the people in the businesses aren't stupid (I'm being kind), but they become stupid as the people in them act stupidly. How so? I’m about to explain. Before I begin I must say that I have been inspired by Pam Slim’s Open letter to CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CFOs across the corporate world.
Stupid businesses don’t grow right. They treat their customers badly. It’s likely that they don’t want to but they do because they have an environment of treating people badly. Employees are treated badly and they, in turn, treat the customers in like manner.
- They don’t care about the customer
- They’re rude or inattentive
- They do bad work
I know there are reasons they act this way. I was in a store recently and the cashier was so worn down that she looked like a zombie. Glassy-eyed, she hardly knew I was there. She couldn’t ring a particular item up right and offered no solution to the problem. No help. It was fun to pull her out of it and find a smile, but that was for a moment and then she was back to longing for the day to end.
Last week my daughter saw an employee at a Subway drive everyone out of the building. Literally. “I’ve had it with this place!”, she said. Once she got everyone out she locked the door!
That comes from above. Managers are above. Stupid managers make stupid businesses. Stupid managers:
- Overwork employees
- Command in all things
- Don’t accept feedback or suggestions
- Frequently criticize and nit pick
- Rarely give praise or recognition
- Lazily expect subordinates to do their work for them
- Yell and act in a mean manner
That creates an atmosphere for stupid employees. I have a son that works at a grocery store. His manager takes 10-15 smoke breaks a day. He comes back and finds that a yogurt container isn’t facing the right way and goes ballistic. It’s sad. Another son works in a clothing department. His manager always has it in her mind that the women’s part of the department is trashed. “Get over there and clean it up, it’s terrible!” Whether it is or not, that’s her message. It’s never right, it’s never good, and she doesn’t want to hear any different.
Above managers in the small business world are owners. Stupid small business owners make stupid small businesses. Let me put emphasis on small, I don’t mean small in size here, but small in quality and integrity.
- They provide no real incentives to perform well
- They are self serving without real regard for employees or customers
- They underpay, giving only what they have to
I’ve seen a business owner pit manager against employees, lie to customers, negotiate in bad faith, and do all things for their own aggrandizement and benefit. The business started in a great, innovative way but became small because of the owner.
Stupid businesses are remarkable but not in a positive way. The famous line from Forest Gump is true, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Stupid businesses don’t grow like they could, like the owner would really like them to grow. They can be planted in a good spot, sprout and start, but they will never get the powerful fertilizer of referrals or the life giving water of returning customers to grow into what they have the potential to become.