Monce Abraham

Getting the best from your team: Where does one start? – I

In Management, People Management on December 20, 2010 at 20:32

 
One thing that I have come to realize over time is that, the team, or as I would put it, ‘The Human Capital’, plays a major part in any Organization’s success. This holds for the Corporate Powerhouse managing its many businesses under one roof,  as much as it does for the StartUp dreaming of becoming the next Corporate Powerhouse.

This, of course, brings to mind the question: How does one make the best of what one’s team has to offer?

Those who have read Jack Welch on people management might straight away utter 3 words in reverence: ‘Reward’, ‘Recognition’ and ‘Training’.

But is that all there really is to managing people, or is there more to explore when you happen to work with teams?

I have tried applying Jack’s principles whenever working with people, and found them to be quite effective… BUT… I have also realized that, as what I had been taught in Chemistry a good 7-8 years back, exceptions to the rule exist just as well.

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Imagine this scenario, where I was working closely with a Colleague on a tight deadline:

It’s night 2:30 AM, the deliverable has to be sent in by morning; we have already exchanged quite a few drafts between us, and my colleague comes back to me and says: “Monce, I think we can improve on this just this much more”. You realize he is serious. You know that what he suggests make sense, and will add that ‘bit’ more value to the deliverable. You also realize that its one of those rare moments when you want to hug and shoot this guy at the same time!

The best part: its not just him alone; but his entire team is up and working ‘actively’ at this time of the night, and they are all in it together. Made me wonder how he manages his team and keeps them up and motivated to put in their best, all the while? This keeping in mind that it’s already Sunday morning now and we have been at work straight for the past 17 odd hours or so (excluding the days that were behind us)!

A few days later, I did get around to asking him and his partner as to how they managed their Human Capital. Theirs is a StartUp they founded in 2009.

I was of the impression that, as a StartUp, they could definitely not be paying their team salaries at par with the MNCs and bigger firms. Turns out they were doing exactly that… and then some more!

For their team, they had put in place a fixed plus variable pay structure (x:y where x-> Fixed pay, y -> Variable pay; x:y is a fab ratio; and x, when converted to money, also happens to be a ‘decent’ minimum amount of compensation meted out per month!); which meant that the team earned more whenever they put in more efforts and did better work, assuming that the Organization kept adding new deals/ projects to its kitty on an ongoing basis. To add to it, they were offering flexihours to their employees!

More moolah for more work – If you think of it, the ones who are willing to work hard for their money are  the guys  who usually end up creating value, and they are exactly the ones you should be having on your team. Also, by getting their team to work on different kinds of projects, they were making their team apply their skills in different ways and giving them all the more reason to keep upgrading their skills in order to stay up to date with the technologies/ trends in the market, and thus churn out that next ‘value-added’ piece of work; which also led to the human assumption that if the current deliverable met or exceeded expectations, they would be called in when the next similar/ ambitious project came in. Success begets Success? Tell me about it!

Flexihours: not just for the newbie parent? I realized that by giving their team flexible work timings, not only were they making life easier for their team, but were also saving on space, electricity and the energy to manage their venture. To understand the impact of this, just try applying this to any workplace where you have >=150 resources as part of your Project/ Division/ Team/ Organization; 150 being the tipping point where managing people starts becoming a ‘BIT’ difficult!

Thinking as to how this entire process was working also reminded me about the concept of  using ‘Chunking’ when working in teams to get max results, creating your team around the product/ service to cut down on the turnaround time and unneeded bureaucracy –  “In Search of Excellence – Tom Peters & Robert H. Waterman Jr.”.

Personally, I have always related with the concept of teams getting quality things done efficiently and within time limits; and then ‘getting out’ of the workplace. No point having people sit idle, wasting their time and the Organization’s resources!

p.s.: For those who are wondering as to whatever happened to the Deliverable, we did manage to roll out the final draft by morning 4:00 AM.

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Do note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to all problems out there. Each organization and team comes with its own set of complexities, bringing in different considerations that need to be factored in when trying to make the best of what’s available, while simultaneously planning as to how to improve further on the quality and capability quotient. As always, ‘Execution’ will play a huge part in the entire scheme of making such processes work; how the process is initiated, rolled out and as to how the team receives it.

Like they say, ‘Ideas are a dime a dozen’; what separates the achievers from the rest is meaningful action which propels one’s Organization in the desired direction, while getting the best from one’s team.

Got any experiences (or) insights of your own as an employer/ employee? Do share!


Cheers, Monce

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