“Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped”—Elbert Hubbard
Like the ability to tell a joke, you either have it or you don’t. While not all of us can become a Jay Leno, some elements of style that help keep your studio operation running smoothly and profitably can be learned. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tips from the good and bad examples of others and I’d like to share a few with you today.
Don’t appear too affluent. Many years ago, legendary photographer and entrepreneur Don Feltner advised me that if my studio ever became really profitable I shouldn’t buy a Cadillac. “Driving an expensive automobile,” he told me, “creates resentment within the staff.” At the time, I believed him and stuck with practical vehicles such as Volvo station wagons and Jeep Cherokees that could haul photography equipment. I never got around to buying a Cadillac and only purchased a used Porsche (now long gone) after I sold the studio.
Your actions set employees’ work style. A friend contacted me recently about her experience at the studio where she works. The company was moving to a new location and the owner asked every employee to work during the weekend so they would be ready bright and early on Monday at their new location. He then took off to go skiing on that same weekend. On Saturday, the boss called one of his staff who was busy coordinating with the movers and chastised him for not taking care of some detail. The only problem was that he was calling on his cell phone from a bar at the ski resort.
The staff will cut you some slack. Even if your management style resembles Mother Theresa’s, there are always employees that will find something to complain about. Any reasonable employee will realize that you’re the reason they get a paycheck, and won’t expect you to look and act like one of the troops. Nevertheless, ask yourself how the people who do the work view your actions. Rupert Murdock doesn’t worry about this and neither will you when you have as much money as he does.
You’re on the same team. If you’re providing a good work ethic example to your employees, you have a right to expect that they’ll deliver too. If they don’t, have a talk with them and try to find out what the problem might be. Some employees find it difficult to go through their professional lives without being miserable and making all around them miserable too. Try to get problem employees on the same playbook, but if they don’t want to work up to standards, take a page from the NFL and cut them from the team.
Joe is the author of the upcoming book, “Studio Photography Anywhere” coming soon from Amherst Media.