Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

How about adults treating other adults as… adults?


Thinking again about Apple’s resistance to letting people have flexibility to work from home and their cringy ad that inspires people to quit, one thought keeps coming back to me. Some adults (bosses) don’t get it, that adults they work with (employees) should be treated as adults (who can make their own decisions). Why is this not a common situation?

How about adults treating other adults as… adults?

Hiring the best people is hard!

Now that I’ve been running my Nozbe company for the last 15 years I know how hard it is to hire the best people for the job. The best people have options. They are not purely motivated by money. They can be picky. They need additional motivation to work than just the material incentive.

The best people are adults.

They recognize they have a free will to choose how they’re gonna spend their time. Are they going to waste it in countless meetings? Are they willing to put up with a long commute to the office? Are they agreeing to be getting involved in the corporate politics?

They can afford to choose not to.

Keeping the best people is harder!

Yesterday was the last day of one of our team members. She’s been working with our company for the last 7+ years and now she’s moving on. It’s always hard to see someone go. To see them not finding enough challenges internally to be searching for them outside.

Luckily, this is not usually the case at Nozbe. My right-hand-man Tom has been working with me for the last 14 years. Fourteen. My all-can-do assistant Magda is one year shy of celebrating a decade working with me. Our head of customer support, Iwona, has recently celebrated 11 years at Nozbe. This July in case of Radek, my The Podcast co-host will mark 10 years working with me. And there are more examples like this.

To keep brilliant people like the ones I just mentioned you need to not only treat them with respect and trust. You must also keep them challenged. Give them autonomy over their career and ambitions.

You must treat them as adults.
You must treat them as partners.
You must keep them exited!

Being around best people challenges everyone around!

Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple kept talking about “bozos”.

A “bozo” is a derisive term used by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to describe an incompetent employee who could damage a competent company. Jobs recommended hiring “A” players and avoiding “B” players as they would bring in “C” players to make themselves look better, leading to a “bozo explosion”.

Being around “A” players helps you become one, too. You want to deliver great work. You are being constantly challenged. You grow as a person and as a professional. You become the best version of yourself.

How do you expect the best people to be around if you keep telling them what to do?

That’s why I’m so concerned about Apple’s policies of not treating their team members as adults. Telling them when they can or cannot come to the office. Not letting them work the best way they can and use their own judgement to decide what’s right. Not giving them enough autonomy they need to thrive.

Autocracy is not a way to go.

Not when running a country. And not when running a business.

Adults need their respect ✊

Adults need to be treated as adults… by adults.1

  1. And I’m meeting my favorite adults in person next week at our semi-annual Nozbe reunion. Can’t wait! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022 /adults/