A friend of mine recently changed jobs, from a big corporate employer to a local small business. When I asked her how it was going, she smiled and said; “It’s amazing. The support and feedback is incredible compared to where I was before.”
I’d always thought that with their enormous and well-meaning HR departments, big companies had the monopoly on rewarding and supporting their employees. In fact, the only time I feel remotely wistful for that long-forgotten corporate office is when I hear about a friend reaping the rewards of their drudgery with some fully-paid long-service leave, a much-anticipated annual bonus, or a truly decadent company shindig at a five-star resort in the Bahamas.
But obviously small businesses can reward their staff too, and can actually make it meaningful. So how can we soloists acknowledge our own efforts?
If you’re stuck in the daily grind of running your business, it’s easy to forget what you’ve achieved that day, that week or that year. Who can you talk to about your big win or stunning idea? Who gives you that well-deserved pat on the back?
If you’re feeling under-appreciated by your busy boss (i.e. yourself), it’s time to do something about it and have a self performance appraisal . After all, you control the budget!
Have a doona day
Once upon a time, we used to call in sick or take a personal day to sort out all that life stuff. And when we did, no one in the office bothered us. Now, as a soloist I find it hard to take a day off – even when I really am sick. I don’t want to see those deadlines mount up or let a client down. I feel too guilty.
But denying yourself time out is a sure-fire way to get sick and stay sick, or else slowly lose your sanity. So get out that calendar and schedule in a doona day.
Find reasons to celebrate
Office parties are few and far between when you work alone, so why not book a drinks session with some fellow soloists, not for the networking opportunity but just for some good old-fashioned fun? Or take your long-suffering partner out for dinner – they probably deserve it too, and that’s one company party where there’ll be no office repercussions if you both get lucky…
Create your own colleague network
Join forces with other small business owners. Create your own informal network where you can share your triumphs and keep each other motivated. You could do this by scheduling a regular coffee catch-up with some other soloists, or by joining a virtual community like the Flying Solo forums.
Want more articles like this? Check out the productivity section.
Be your own HR manager
Keep an eye on your personal development, just as the HR department would in a big company. Can you outsource any of the tasks on your To Do list that you don’t enjoy? Is there an area you’d like more training in? Make the time to learn new skills you can apply to your business, and then reward yourself with a promotion when you see the benefits.
Take your long-service leave
Make plans for long-service leave. I’m not talking about taking a short break. I’m suggesting you find a way to step away from your business for a period of time to do something that will re-energise you and give you a new perspective. Travel, learn to sail, take up golf, or just clear out the clutter.
Think that sounds impossible? You’d be surprised how many soloists have set up their businesses so they can take maternity leave. So why not take some me-leave? It’s just as valid and comes without the sleep deprivation.
At the risk of sounding like a margarine commercial, you ought to be congratulated! So go on, start the self-praise party by printing a nice big ‘Employee of the Month’ certificate and hanging it with pride above your desk.
Mine reads ‘Thanks, Sara, for reminding Aussie soloists that doona days are a necessity, not a luxury’. What does yours say?