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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Working hard is not enough

This swan worked hard but never moved forward!

It is easy to work hard and accomplish little.  The objective is to work hard and accomplish great things.  Employees or founders are easily distracted and engage in activities that cause them to spend time and energy achieving their objectives.  Improper objective identification by the team or the leaders complicates performance of the business by producing less than desired achievements.  The selection of objectives is up to the leaders in some cases, but in research areas, the investigator often selects the objectives within a broadly defined area.  All assignments should fit a project or program plan along with identified timelines.  Monitoring the teams’ efforts ensures meeting of goals and identification of any adjustments that enable meeting of those goals. 

Broad areas and objectives leave much room for creativity and innovation.  This is especially important in certain areas where research is taking place.  The process requires motivated scientists with specific ideas to produce products rather than simple research results.  However, there are cases where team members do not possess the skill set to self-govern their own day-to-day activities or identification of objectives.  When this occurs, the employee seems to work hard but never accomplish anything of value.  It is also hard to gauge their progress or accomplishments.  Efforts to improve outcomes can come from extra guidance, a better outlining of programs, assignment of the person to assist a more productive individual, or other such activities.  However, this does not always produce the desired result and sometimes makes good employees less productive.

The objective of the company leader must be to identify and separate those that are salvageable from those that are not.  Continued observation by others in the company or by the manager of a non-productive employee eventually create a reduced energy work environment.  People wonder why the individual receives the same pay and perks while producing nothing.  The company staff will always measure their value relative to others.  This is not the most ideal, but it does happen.  It works better when the team works hard and everyone sees each member as key to the success of the business, and not someone that is dragging the business to lower levels of productivity.

Helping others learn and develop in the business community is an important part of a leaders function.  Likewise, the rapid identification of those that one cannot retrain or reassign is equally important.  It is not easy to request that someone depart the business, but it is part of running a business effectively.  The best you can do in such cases is to treat people with respect and attempt to help them find something for which they are better suited. 

In short, you only have limited resources and time to build a startup into a successful business.  This requires defining objectives toward development of products that create value for the company.  Meeting the timelines and objectives are critical and serve as measures for investors gauging your performance.  Simply working hard is not enough for your company or your employees.  They must accomplish something of value in a timely manner and at a projected cost.  Each step must take you to an improved level in the company, or you may just stay put forever.  In this case, you as the leader are like the employee that works hard but never accomplishes much.