Once upon a time, I had an amazing staff at my disposal. They were loyal, enthusiastic and willing. They believed in my vision in a functional capacity. They admired me and looked toward me for guidance. They worked diligently to bring my ideas to fruition. Then after a chain of frivolous events and much disruption they disbanded.
This occurred for many reasons and wasn’t a surprise to me. But what was the root cause? What underlying reason prevented me from maintaining that particular staff group? Easy, ’friendship’.
’Friendship’ deaded the whole operation.
There’s 3 ways ‘friendship’ affected the efficiency of my staff and lead to its eventual disbandment. The first was allowing staff members to refer friends. Bringing people on board merely because a subordinate vouched for them. That was a huge mistake on my part. Assuming that the staff member would not only be responsible for training the referral but would ensure their overall reliability was incredibly dumb of me as well.
The referral isn’t as invested as the rest of the staff so they're not open to criticism or scrutiny. They don't have ’time in.’ Their willingness to perform is rooted in their friendship with the staff member who has referred them. And that can become an issue. Their allegiance to each other usually predates their involvement with the business. If one is under scrutiny the other will surely align against you to defend their friend.
If the friendship becomes bitter it can hurt productivity.
The second-way ‘friendship’ caused the demise of my first staff group was me being too friendly. Getting involved in the personal lives of your staff is a huge mistake. Aiding them when they're under extreme duress is fine and beneficial. But taking part in gossip, defending them on public platforms and talking too much about things outside of the vision is a huge mistake.
I found myself working hard to satisfy their social and emotional needs without getting any extra work out of them. I also destroyed the power dynamic between us so any boundaries I had established had eventually been demolished.
The third way ‘friendship’ left me without a productive team was their false sense of family to each other. There’s a huge difference between a gang and a team. A gang works toward preserving and improving the social dynamic of its members while meeting common goals. A team primarily works on common goals, developing socially in the process. You want your staff to be a team. You want to be the coach. You want it to be clear that their job is to deliver the win and your job is to help them see it through. What I had was a gang. Individuals who prioritized congregating for the purpose of socializing making the vision a secondary concern. Gangs also decide to usurp leadership if their social concerns aren’t being met. But the coach’s position is cemented whether the goals are meant or not.
You want to discourage gang mentality when developing your team of staffers.
Working independently and being an entrepreneurial boss is taxing. You want to abandon the mundane rigidity of traditional employment and make it fun for your workers. Which is fine but you have to know where to draw the line. You have to be really sure about the types of personalities you want to deal with. You have to determine the level of output a potential staffer can produce. And you have to not only maintain whatever status quo you have but also the power structure or hierarchy of your business. Oh, and please be cautious about second chances because it's unlikely that you’ll get a second chance at success. Why should a person who not only hasn't put in nearly as much work as you but has also proven to be a fuck up, deserve a second chance? Fuck that!
Do not be afraid to fire someone if they are not performing at a level that significantly contributes to your bottom line.
- Earl 'Wolf' Davis