I'll always remember the day 12 years ago when I walked into work.
It was a time when employees were stealing toilet paper from me.
On this particular day, three or four guys were having a cigarette break. My mom was inside -- she was my customer service rep back then -- and she had two phones go off. She tried to put the callers on hold; but, boy, she was ready to pull her hair out. No one was helping her.
I felt so angry. I felt that I didn't have control of anything in the business. I hated the word culture. I hated my employees. I'd rant: "They don't listen, they don't love me, they don't know, they're not smart. If they do it, or if I don't do it, it won't be done right."
Heck, I even hated my own business! When the phone rang, I hated it -- it would ring in the middle of a movie, during dinner night, after a walk ... I was on the phone all the time.
But then I realized ...
I did it all to myself.
I let the bad things happen.
I, Tommy Mello, was the problem.
If I couldn't take responsibility for the company, why should I expect my employees to do the same?
I wasn't showing up as a leader. I wasn't being accountable for my mistakes. I wasn't giving my employees the support they needed. How could I have expected them to succeed?
So here's how I've taken responsibility since then:
1. Choose not to be a victim.
My parents divorced early. I got a job when I was 12. My mom worked three jobs -- she was a server, a waitress, and a bartender. I turned all that into a good thing. My mom taught me how to work and how to love. My dad taught me how to be competitive. Move away from the victim mentality: "I can never be that." "I can never do that."
2. Apologize when you screw up.
There's nothing wrong with making mistakes. I do it all the time. But here's the thing: If you screw up once, you can learn. You can course-correct. You can say "I'm sorry" and fix things. But if you make the same mistake again and again, then you have no one else to blame but yourself!
3. Delegate, do not dump.
Most owners think they are delegating, but the reality is that they are just dumping work on their employees and expecting magic to happen! No wonder they don't get the results they want. So how do you delegate the right way? Well, I created systems, processes, and checklists, so that everyone knew what they were doing, how, and why. I also got Al Levi -- a veteran home service business owner and consultant -- to create our operating manuals. We had none when he came in and helped, and I'm forever grateful for Al.
4. Make coaching and training top priorities.
The best systems are useless if your employees don't use them. That's why they need continuous support to deliver with quality and consistency. We provide training examples and scripts, and we do live role play every single week. We also completed a brand-new training center this year. The result? The majority of our top technicians just came out of training.
"The worst employee" is usually a good employee. Most of the time, they just need your help. Ask yourself: "Have I given them the systems or training they need? Can they be coached?" And, more important, look at yourself in the mirror and be honest: "Have I taken responsibility as a leader?"