Saturday, March 26, 2011

Do we really need to employ staff in 2011?

Frequency of blogging is a pretty good measure of how maxed out a person is. So, from me, not much blogging of late. So what's to say on a Saturday lunchtime in a few moments snatched while the children devour 'Octonauts' on Cbeebies?

Well, I am, overall, in mostly a good place. Sat on my usual fault-line between productive, happy busyness and meltdown. I have to say that I am very pleased to be in business. Nothing quite matches the freedom it brings, despite the uncertainty and solitude. Also it's unforgiving in a way that organisational life just isn't: You fuck up and people don't call you in again. You are only as good as your last job. Quite a simple and effective motivator.

But perhaps what I am enjoying most is the lack of responsibility for the performance of others. This, above all else, is what really did for me as a CEO. Somehow, I was accountable for whether 200-odd people did a fantastic job or not. While I could accept the fact that it was my job to set the culture and processes up as best I could, it was the idea that it was the employers' job to be fix mediocre performance from staff, including all of their problems at work, that probably finally did for me.

Today, if someone lets me down, it's their fault, not mine, and they either take it or they don't work for us again. And their own problems - be it health, happiness, dying aunt, complicated love-life - are nothing at all to do with me. While I can and do care, I don't have to manage these problems as if they are somehow my own.. .
Right now I am working an Associate model. It's perfect. I get highly capable, committed people who are keen to prove their worth and earn well. They don't look to me for answers to their own delivery problems. Quietly, whole sections of the UK economy is moving over to this model. And, interestingly, everyone who does it seems happier than in the strange dance of being employed.

Am I calling for the casualisation of the British workforce? No, because many people need the securities and rights that employment brings. But I am saying that as an entrepreneur growing a business today, I don't view an expanded workforce as part of what I am doing. A few committed individuals perhaps, all of whose pay would be linked to results, but nothing more.

In fact, I believe I could build my own business to as large a size as I like with about five FT people. The thought of employing more than this chills me, as I know I would be taking on the problems of the world and his wife - and neglecting my customers in the process.

No thanks.

No comments: