As the Founder and CEO of PK4 Media since 2009, I have had many employees over the years. Some have been good, others great, and there have been a handful of bad apples to be sure. In certain cases, I have made great friendships and on rare occasions those who have worked for me have become family.
However, as the leader of an enterprise, I have learned to be careful with what I tell my employees no matter how close we are.
It is a simple reality that my entire life is staked in the success of this company. Equally as important is that the financial well-being of my employees and their families whose entire livelihood depends on the success of my creation, my company.
For a variety of reasons that include motivating my employees, keeping company morale in a good place and stopping the spread of rumors – true or false – there are things I can never tell you even though I really would like to at times.
Here are 5 things I can never tell you:
- I want you to have a good time at work: Nothing feels worse than walking into a room and seeing everyone stop laughing. I understand that you spend more time with each other than, perhaps, your own family. You do not need to stand at attention. It is perfectly okay to have a good time and I can see who is doing so at the expense of hard work. There is a difference. Unfortunately, I can’t appear to be everyone’s best friend, or I will lose the respect and authority needed to run the business. But please know, that I love it when you are having fun. I want you to have fun.
- I wish I could give you every perk: As a boutique agency, we offer some great perks such as unlimited vacation, guaranteed 401k contributions, a pool table, bar and a good work / life balance. I wish I could offer many more. But PK4 does not take outside investment, we have positive cash flow, and our value is in our boutique size and we do not want to scale up too quickly or greatly. We want to be right where we are offering full service to our clients. I wish I could offer the perks industry giants can such as dry cleaning or even fertility benefits but we need that cash to pay you what you deserve and to cover our operating costs. I will make it up by giving you more practical responsibility and hands on work that will accelerate your career development.
- I could not do this without you: An unfortunate reality of being a CEO is that I need to give praise when praise is due, but I also need to keep you grounded and motivated. This business is not about me. But it is also not solely about you. It is about us and having a team mentally is the key to success. You are a star, no doubt about it, but I must spread around the projects and the praise. I will let you know how important you are in every way that I possibly can, because, in truth, I could not do this without you.
- I want to pay you more: Over the course of nine years, PK4 has had its ups and downs. There have been years when I have not taken a salary. I wish I could pay everyone more, especially those who truly deserve it. But to keep this company growing organically, there are financial constraints and realities I must abide by. You have all placed your faith in me and I have a responsibility as your CEO to make smart choices.
- I am worried: PK4 launched as the first omni-channel media company in advertising. Not cross-channel, or multi-channel but we developed technology to reach consumers from their couch, to their car, on the highway and in the mall. We grew quickly and turned down buy-out offers for more than $30 million on multiple occasions. No industry is growing more rapidly or changing as fast as the digital landscape. There are times when I get worried about our competition, rise of new technology and the overall economy which can have an unpredictable impact on ad spends. While we have proven a unique ability to evolve and rise to the occasion, I worry every day. As my friends, I do wish I could confide in you. But I can never let you know of my concerns, because I am your leader and if I do not appear strong and resolute there will be concern, turnover, loss of motivation and decreased performance. It does not mean I do not trust you.
I spend more time with my employees than I do with my family and friends. There are times when I wish I could confide in you, bare my soul and let you in on everything. Unfortunately, when I decided to start my own company, I took on responsibility for many livelihoods and there is a fine line between being inclusive and reckless. I am grateful to work with such an honorable group of people who are understanding and for knowing that I have everyone’s best interests in mind. Even if I can’t always reveal it to you.
This article originally appeared on WWW.FORBES.COM