Monday, April 13, 2009

Business - When The A-Team Isn't

In my 10 over years in the business field, I've seen and heard stories of people failing with their "A-team" and for some, flies with a "B-team".  For some who may not understand how all these work, do take some time to read what I'll be sharing.

The first fundamental a manager has to understand is, they're dealing with human brings.  That with human, there comes emotion and personal agenda. 

Whether your department flies, swim or sink depends entirely on how you (the manager) want your career to grow. 

But first, let's have a crash course on identifying your work personality.  This crash course doesn't serve to cover the entire population of managers, but will give one a rough idea on the direction to go according to their work personality.

  1. Solutions Manager - The Know-It-All and Handyman of the company must be constantly occupied because they know their job so well, so they cannot have an A-team to give him free time.  B or C team will keep them fulfilled and happy eventhough they may grumble of being too busy.  But trust me, they're happier this way.
  2. PR Manager - Also known as the Social Butterfly with their team, peer managers and the higher management.  They are the ones with the news ahead and memberships to the country clubs and watering holes in town.  They may not be necessarily an work-idiot but they prefer to keep their hands clean to ensure his department (and his career) survives.  These managers need a 80% A-team, 20% B-team. 
  3. Controlling Manager - They literally must manage.  They pick up the grammar flaws in the reports, must approve the templates of the PowerPoint, must know who goes out for smoking breaks with who.  Some of them may be great workers but poor leaders and got promoted by merit and not leadership skills.  They need a 90% C people with 10% of the Bs.

You may already have a picture etched from the above manager types, let me further detail the characteristics of the A, B and C-team people so you can piece the jigsaw puzzle on your own and see where your current team has gone wrong, or right.

  1. A-team people - They are good and they know it.  These people need to be given the direction on what you want and need then left on their own devices to deliver.  They crumble under micro-managing (think Controlling Manager) because they're likely to be able to think ahead.  To make them happy, they need to be given space to exercise their talent, be recognised, promoted and sometimes, be given the chance to look as if they're the best in the whole team.  Most of the time, they love the PR Manager who can manage their egos.
  2. B-team people - They may not be Einsteins or Edisons but they deliver within the deadline.  They're likely to bury themselves in their work and rather down-to-earth.  They'll respect a manager who is able to help them when things happen and likely to stick by them in low times.  They need to report their work to know that they're on track.  This is why they work well with the Solutions Manager.
  3. C-team people - They work when given work, they leave when it's time to knock off.  They seek to be in a job for the security and unlikely to be ambitious enough to plan their career path.  Some of these might be B-team material but don't want the stress and hassle to "work so hard".  There might be an occasional A-person in the C-team, but because they lack the ability to plan for themselves, they got stuck in the rut.

There're of course mixed personalities within the managers and the team people, but by now, one may be able to see where they mostly fit in within the frames I've listed.

In the course of hiring managers and team people, it's crucial to know what sort of dynamics the hiring manager is playing with.  A wrong combination spells frequent attrition and re-hiring, increasing HR budget in advertising and using external recruiters, and constant orientating new people into the company.  This is a stress no manager wants.

A stable team normally spells a growing company.

Typically, attrition is highest in the Sales and Marketing departments while the backend based like Accounting suffers less.  Middle managers typically last 3-5 years in their team while the senior to top management lasts 5-8 years.  C-levels of MNCs last from 8-15 years.  It's by no means some level of truth when people say, "You're worth the slack if you can bear the grind."

This is also why a good HR manager is worth the salt in the ranks if they can identify, pre-empt problems, retain and support talents in a talent-driven market.  A company cannot work on the clockwork of solely A-people because the fight to be the top would be too difficult and there's none of the Bs and Cs to make them look good.  And neither can one survives on the Bs or Cs because the lack of a clear strong leadership will sink the company.

Knowing how to fit-out the manager-team properly is the same as picking the right clothes for the right occassion.  People look at you differently when you're well-dressed for the floor.