Who’s Working for You? Can You Trust Them?

Everybody needs a team in order to build a successful business, but who is on your team–and can you trust them?

Let’s consider three types of people. One could do a whole lot more if you let them. The others…well, you may have to find a way to live without them.

1. Office Bullies

A bully is a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.  It’s something that’s present in our schools, and that we don’t expect to see on our jobs.  But with people come rewards as well as a variety of communication issues.

I remember as a university student dealing with a certain classmate who attempted to bully me over the course of a year.  It taught me a valuable lesson: People don’t automatically outgrow their foolishness. In “Are There Bullies In Your Workplace?,” Anita Campbell discusses this subject from at least two angles: the boss being perceived as a bully and true bullying behavior within the company.

office bully

I love the advice Anita gives to help you deal with the issue. She says, “As the business owner, the best way for you to stop bullying is by being present in your business. Manage by walking around—see what people are doing, how they’re interacting. Talk to them regularly and watch how they relate to one another.”

I spent over a decade in small business management and my best skill was leading by example.  You are trying to build something; you don’t have time to let bullying tear it down.  You have to create a company culture worth protecting.

2. Informal Leaders

In a dressed-down world, informal leadership sounds hip and relevant, but it’s not always so.  According to Diane Helbig in “Who’s Running Your Business Anyway?,” the informal leader can be both good and bad for business.  It all depends on what they do with this power.

Diane says, “Without realizing it, you can be giving up power to others. When this happens they are determining the direction of your business.  Informal leaders in your organization can be the most dangerous…when you don’t take control from them.”

However, Diane notes, “There are times when informal leaders are good for an organization. They don’t have official authority but they are dedicated to the success of the company and others follow their lead.”

For me, clarity is the best way to address an informal leader who is quietly redirecting your company.  There needs to be

  1. A clear chain of command established from the first day of employment.
  2. A consistent way of (re)informing your team of the standards and the rules that govern the company, and
  3. An immediate and direct response to those who break protocol. Leaders don’t have to scream, yell or be mean, but they do have to confront and provide consequences for destructive behavior.

As is the case with most things, this problem is easier to address sooner than later.

If you can get rid of what undermines your business, then you can build the kind of company that you really want. And that may include putting your clients to work for you.

3. Your Clients

Instead of driving your customers away, learn to take care of them in a way that gives them something positive to talk about. If you do this, you just may discover that your clients can be the best “employees” on your team—promoting your company and praising your services.  In “9 Bad Behaviors That Are Sending Your Customers to Your Competitors,” Ivana Taylor discusses the things you may be doing that drive your customers away. She also provides key steps to help fix each behavior.

Your clients have family, friends and colleagues. If you don’t take care of them just because it’s the right thing to do, then take care of them because it’s good for business.  Caring for your clients not only leads to loyalty, but to referrals as well.


Jamillah Warner Jamillah Warner (Ms.J), a poet with a passion for business, is a Georgia-based writer and speaker and the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions. She also provides marketing and communication quick tips in her getCLEAR! MicroNewsletter.

10 Reactions
  1. After reading your article, I realized that informal employees do exist and that we may often be in that role ourselves. It seems to be a role which employer and employee should recognize as quickly as possible for good business relations.

  2. Hi Jamillah,

    I agree that the best marketing is done through your clients, if you have a good relationship with your customers, you wouldn’t need thousands of dollars to spend on promotion to bring them back to you. Not only would they return, they would also promote a positive word of mouth that can enhance the sales and boost your company’s image. Thanks for sharing!

    Riya Sam

  3. This is a really great article about a truly important issue. Business owners really need to pay attention to their expectations and the results they are getting. I especially like the clarity part – vital!

  4. I think you have to assume the some people will let you down but… it’s how you react that makes the difference.

    Having some contingency in place reduces the impact of their negative actions.


  5. Jamillah Warner

    Thanks Diane and Riya!

    I have to say Ivan, I operate under that assumption too, “some people will let you down.” It allows me to see people for what they are–human–and create checks and balances to protect the program from them (and from my own potentially not-so-great habits on bad days).

    Kevin I have found myself in the informal leader role too but it’s about how you handle it. The owner drives the ship and I try to honor their wishes because when I’m running it, I want the same return or at least the peace of mind from knowing that I didn’t create a mess in another man’s company (and that feels good).

  6. I have a question about legal rights an employer has regarding pay from going tn 14 an hr. to 10 and hour. the issue is revolved around a boss who used his authority to treat and do his employer how he seen fit. giving them their earned money whenever he wanted to. not allowing his employee to file 4 unemployment when their job status was lack of work and mulnipating his 2nd hand employee to teach illegal mexicans to learn how to do the landscapping and instilational of irrigation work. who i talk to to ask question and get legal answers.

  7. I know in my field (Real Estate) you have to constantly watch your back as it is full of people who will sell their sole for a dollar. Far to easy to get into the industry!

  8. Great article, as a Realtor its important to build trust with your customers and after reading this article it’s important to take pride in yourself! Be honest to your customers and your business will grow

  9. I fully agree with you on #3. As a real estate company we see tons of referrals from happy customers. I’m amazed by how many companies, in my own niche and outside, fail to take care…and CARE about their customers.

    I learned years ago that our customers are a major part of our sales and marketing team. Those referrals are great.

  10. Culture is very important in an organization and having people who buy into that culture, are supportive, and believe in the ethos of the company are paramount to its success. As a real estate professional, there’s a lot of competition, and consumers have lots of choices. Working with people who aren’t toxic helps promote success.