How do you define success?
Maya Angelou said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
Winston Churchill’s take? “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
“My definition of success?” Richard Branson asked himself on Virgin’s blog. “The more you’re actively and practically engaged, the more successful you will feel.”
As you can see, everyone has his or her own definition of success. However, it’s safe to say that most entrepreneurs have fairly similar definitions of success. The thing is, as we proudly share our own definitions, we often fail to realize that our employees don’t define success the way we do.
That may not seem like a big deal. But when you and your team don’t see eye to eye, that makes it more challenging to find ways to rally the team. Think about it: If you believe being successful means being your own boss, but your employees’ definition is being recognized for their accomplishments, how can you successfully motivate and inspire them?
With that in mind, here are seven ways you and your employees define success differently.
Employees aspire to achieve balance; entrepreneurs believe in seasons.
Research from Right Management’s Global Career Aspiration found that 45 percent of employees want work/life balance; that’s more than double the percentage of employees who rank being the best at their jobs as their top career aspiration.
In fact, you could say work/life balance is an employee’s most coveted dream, but that’s not the case for entrepreneurs.
We realize work/life balance isn’t feasible. If we want to succeed, thrive and excel in one area, another will have to suffer. As such, we go through “seasons.”
For instance, our personal lives may go on hold while launching our business because we’ll be putting in an insane number of hours. However, once the business is up and running and doesn’t need us to be as hands-on, we can take a monthlong family vacation and not focus on work at all.
Employees avoid failure; entrepreneurs embrace failure.
Because employees are carefully monitored and expected to deliver high-quality results, it’s no wonder they’re afraid of failure. In fact, they strive for perfection in order to nail that performance review or get that raise or promotion.
Entrepreneurs, on the hand, aren’t afraid of failure; in fact, we embrace it. We realize that as long as we’re producing something, we’re moving forward. And if it stinks, we can learn from our mistakes and do better the next time around.
Entrepreneurs feel pain in failing to try, not in failure itself.
Employees want to be respected; entrepreneurs don’t respect the status quo.
The Right Management’s Global Career Aspirations survey also found that “53 percent of employees say respect for their knowledge and experience is their top expectation of leadership.”
Florence Richard, a director of human resources at Asset Management, adds that “work should be a place employees want to be, not have to be.” This means they should be treated with respect and recognized, publicly and personally, for their achievements.
Entrepreneurs are risk takers who don’t want to be told how things are. We pave our own paths — with or without being respected by others. We know going off the beaten path is the only way to blaze a new trail.
Employees want to be compensated fairly; entrepreneurs get paid for results.
Pay may not be the top motivator for employees. However, they do expect to be fairly compensated within your organization, as well as within the job market. After all, how can a talented employee consider himself successful when he’s making less than less qualified individuals do?
Entrepreneurs are often the last ones to be paid. As such, our performance dictates how we’re compensated.
Employees want immediate feedback; entrepreneurs persevere.
Employees crave feedback, and it’s easy to understand why. They want to know how their efforts relate to the big picture. They also want to see how their progress is affecting company goals, and it can reduce anxiety to know they’re doing a good job. In fact, 65 percent of employees want even more feedback at work.
We entrepreneurs know that success doesn’t come overnight. It takes time and patience. Even though we’re anxious about our business, we don’t always have access to immediate feedback. It could take weeks, months or even years to learn the lessons.
Employees are responsible for some decisions; entrepreneurs are responsible for every decision.
It’s been found that autonomy can boost both job satisfaction and productivity for employees. At the same time, it’s our responsibility to set boundaries for our employees.
In other words, although we allow them to take the ball and run with it, it’s still within our parameters. That means at the end of the day, each and every decision goes through us.
Employees want steady employment; entrepreneurs are comfortable without job security.
Before I started my own business, there was a period when I was unemployed. It was a pretty lousy feeling, and I definitely didn’t feel like I was succeeding in life.
Obviously, I’m not the only person who feels this way. Employees strive for steady employment; they even demand opportunities to learn and enhance their skills so they can contribute more to the business and grow in their careers.
Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are risk takers; they’re not necessarily looking for a “sure thing.” It may be stressful, but we’re content without steady employment as long as we’re building our business and chasing our dreams.
“Success” means something different to everyone. Ignoring how your employees view it can be a detriment to them, to their careers and to your company. Finding ways to help everyone find the success they crave can lead to happier outcomes for everyone.