Strategy

13th October 2016

Out of the frying pan

One of the most challenging concepts for a growth enterprise to master is that of the effective team. Why? Well to a great extent it is counterintuitive to many, foreign to others and represents a significant change in the way they have operated to many more.

Many of the entrepreneurs I work with have never had experience of good, let alone great management and they have never experienced being a part of or an observer of a really effective, functional, team.

Those entrepreneurs who have started from scratch have probably built their team haphazardly, adding to it as the business was growing, without a plan or a design and without knowing what might be needed further on down the line. So they often recruit people that they know, or know of; perhaps the wife’s sister’s babysitter’s boyfriend. If you can’t employ someone you know better to employ someone who someone you know knows, right?  Wrong! They employ people to do the things they no longer have the time for.

Eventually they end up with a small army of ‘helpers’; people who will do their bidding; people who will do more or less what they are told. And that is fine. Well it is fine at first, at least. After a while our entrepreneur begins to get tired; very tired. Tired and frustrated. Although he may have plenty of people to help him, the workload is intense and unremitting. Those people are what are sometimes called ‘doing’ people. They, at best, simply carry out the last command they were given, often without thought and frequently thoughtlessly. Well, they were employed to do, not to think, after all.

Our entrepreneur may end up with a number of ‘helpers’ but effectively the business finds itself with many hands but only one brain: The brain of the business owner, who finds himself making all of the decisions, great and small, all of the time. This is exhausting, as those of you who have been down that road will testify.

Typically our fatigued business owner might then embark on a mission of allowing the individuals to make more and more of their own decisions and before he knows it he has created a second nightmare scenario and creates a business that now has as many pairs of hands as it has brains, but all of those brains have different opinions, different strategies and different agendas. He sometimes uses the word ‘empower’ to describe what he is doing as though to wrap it in some form of modern management mystique when all that is happening is he is creating confusion and chaos.

If he were to take a moment and really think about what he needed to achieve he might begin to realise that the real objective is for his team to want to bring their brains to work, and we all know that with every pair of hands comes a free brain, right? But that in itself is not enough. Unless those brains are thinking in unison, focussed on the same objective and in agreement about the methodologies and the priorities all that we have is a recipe for chaos.

The ability to encourage everyone to bring their brains to work and to help those people all to be on the same sheet, singing the same tune, pulling in the same direction and beating at the same rhythm doesn’t happen by accident. It is all too rare a skillset. The ability to achieve that is the measure of the leaders and the management in any organisation.

What are you doing to learn the skills and develop the ability to create that positive synergy in your business because when it works in harmony it is a wonderful thing?