Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Round Table

(Cross post from IRefactor)

Here is an interesting thing about Partnership and Shared Ownership.
Once creating such an atmosphere within your team (company) you are on the road to success.

Everybody works together in order to accomplish the shared targets: Product Managers, Engineering, QA, Market Managers and etc...
Usually, small teams and small companies are characterized by the "Partnership and Shared Ownership" DNA.
But when they grow, rest assure that slowly but surely the Partnership and the Shared Ownership notion will dissipate.

Once reaching ~150 people it is almost impossible to share the same values as you did before. (And in my humble opinion, it happens much much before 150)
Ah, but then a miracle happens...
Some "smart" manager gets a wonderful idea how to revive the sense of Partnership and Shared Ownership.
He suggests to have a "round table" with the President\CEO\Group Manager.


Indeed, the President cannot meet each and every employee, but he can share a sense of equality as the King Arthur did with his knights.

 Let's have a bunch of employees sitting together, discussing their important values, tasks and views with his majesty.
Alas, I have been there; Allow me, then, to elaborate regarding what really happens around this table:
  • Either most of the employees are not familiar with each other or are not familiar enough in order to speak from the heart.
  • Therefore, most of the time, the employees will introduce themselves and their projects/tasks without touching the really painful issues.
  • The rest of the time, the President will summarize his activities and his "successful decisions and directions".
  • And then... Well, then the meeting will be over. (But at least the President will be happy. After all, such a "convenient" audience is very hard to find...)
There are only two recipes to succeed in creating the Partnership and Shared Ownership atmosphere.


Involve & Trust.


You involve your employees, they involve their employees and so on... and so on... You spend your time explaining the roadmap, emphasizing values, motivating and also hearing what your people have to say. You verify that you follow what you preach; You incorporate your employees suggestions and opinions. You also give an attribution as your employees should be acknowledged if they have provided a good idea. And you provide a "safety net". Your employees should know that they have a strong figure standing behind them; You don't blame, you don't share your disappointments - you support and foster.

But sometimes, the round table idea sneaks into the small companies.

When it happens, it signals that the problem is even worse; If a manager feels that there is a need to have a round table in a small company, it means that he doesn't have the time to bestow the values on his employees. His hope is to do the minimal effort, bringing everybody in "one take" to the table, in order to "motivate". Though the employees will feel more comfortable with each other in a small company, it just emphasizes the miscommunication and the mistrust that is going on. Clearly, this is not a best management...

Dear manager: Involve & Trust... And do it personally!

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