FEATURED | Business

It’s Not That There Aren’t Enough Indians, but There Are Too Many Chiefs

You know who the Indians are in your organization, they’re the employees, from secretaries to team members, who actually get stuff done. They’re also the most likely to be working under more stress and less compensation that those who manage them, the chiefs we have too many of.

But we gotta have managers, right?

Well, actually no, managers are the weak link in most corporate structures, as well as being an expense that hinders profits.

Let’s take a look at these captains of the Monday morning staff meeting and see what they’re up to. Even under the cheeriest ‘donuts and coffee’ circumstances, staff meetings are high stress and low morale events. Whether there are five or fifteen staff on board, one or two are pretty okay and the others are feeling more pressure than is healthy—or profitable. If you choose to stay with me on business matters, you’ll find I am a great believer in profit.

Take a Monday sales staff meeting as an example. One or two may smile because they closed a deal or two during the week just past, but the others feel nothing but pressure. The Sales Manager being paid to tap his pencil and frown, doesn’t usually even buy the donuts. It’s his job to ride the sales staff, make sure they meet their quotas, remind everyone by inference that they are replaceable and keep an eagle-eye on expense accounts. His job is best defined as ‘cracking the whip.’

And there are as many managers as departments in your company, as many sweaty palms as attendees. What a great way to kick off the week, 20% up and 80% down. Even the two winners know another week is coming.

But that’s what the hell they’re paid for

Not in a well-run and profitable organization.

The chief job of an owner or CEO is to create a company with low turnover that everyone hopes to work for. Once that’s accomplished, costs go down, profits improve and turnover is nearly non-existent. Surprisingly, wages are only third or fourth among the benefits workers value. Achieving that may not be all that simple, but it’s very straightforward: empower your employees to be the very best they can be. That’s what gets an employee out of bed on Monday. Managers are out and team-leaders are in. Cracking whips is out and helping out is in.

The team-leader of a sales team sells

He not only sells, he constantly responds to what each member of the sales department needs to get the contract. There is always a reason a deal isn’t yet signed. A team-leader will find that reason over lunch with the prospective client and his salesperson. Possibly the deal can’t be done, but there’s never any shame over that. Full support takes its best shot and is there to share the outcome, good or bad.

What can I do to make things easier for you?

That’s a hell of a lot more positive than “why haven’t you signed up the deal?”

If you have a design department, your team-leader better be a designer. Ditto for PR, manufacturing, service departments and labor relations. There are no more Monday meetings. Team-leaders know what’s going on at all times and have an arm around the shoulder of anyone on their team they can help.

That’s what’s called ‘managing by walking around.’ Maybe there’s a problem at home, a kid on drugs, a wife about to file for divorce or an employee dangerously close to burnout, who simply needs a bit of time to recover. It may be a tired cliché, but companies that are run like families that care for one another are places everyone wants to show up at on Monday mornings.

Spreading saved managerial costs among team-leaders isn’t a bad idea either.