Avoiding “Swarm Management” with a “good fit”- Part IV

So far in my ruminations on Swarm Management we’ve seen what happens when our “players” don’t know what position they should be playing in our company. Why does this happen? Because we don’t take time to evaluate necessary changes to our organizational structure as our companies grow.

But that isn’t the only way Swarm Management takes place. Another way is by making our players cover multiple positions because our hiring (and firing) decisions are driven by our hearts rather than by our heads.

Let’s face it, most entrepreneurs are caring and generous people. So, it’s only natural that they would use their greatest physical asset—their business—to help their family and friends by employing these folks. So when a family member or a friend approaches them about a job this generous entrepreneur hires them.

He or she hires old high school friends, college drinking buddies, friends from the gym, people they meet at church, people they meet at the bar, neighbors, friends of neighbors, etc. The list seems endless. Now let’s really shake things up by adding wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, and any other members of the gene pool I might have overlooked!

These are all people we like/love and who we hope will love us! We want them to share in our successful venture, to share our joy and the rewards that come from success! Sound good? Of course! BUT these people may not be appropriate for the jobs you have available. Sorry- but the fact that you like them or that you are related to them does NOT make them qualified.

Trying to fit your organization around the skills of people who you happen to run into at the gym reminds me of the story about the guy who goes to a tailor to buy a custom-made suit. When he tries on the finished suit, he realizes one sleeve is too long. The tailor tells him not to worry. “Just pull one hand in a bit and bend your arm.”

Now the client sees that the shoulder droops. So the tailor tells him to lift that shoulder slightly. “But the back feels too wide,” the man complains. “Just bend forward a tiny bit and it will look just fine,” the tailor advises.

So now the man hobbles out of the shop in a contorted posture: arm half-bent, one shoulder higher than the other, hunchbacked. Two women passing by see his contorted progress and one whispers to the other, “Look at that poor, crippled man.”

“Yes” her friend answers, “but look how beautifully the suit fits him.”

In a business, this forced fit of a poorly tailored suit is similar to trying to rearrange your entire organization around a person who doesn’t have the right qualifications. Everyone else has to “swarm in” to do his job because he or she is not getting it done. Plus the friend you tried to help by hiring them will be miserable in this “poorly fitted position” too! Everyone suffers and this is exactly why you should not organize your company around people instead of tasks.

So sure- going forward you are still going to think about bringing a friend or family member into your company. After all, you ARE a caring, generous person. And one of the rewards of being the boss is you get the joy of helping others. Just please be sure it is for the good of your entire organization and not just for the person you’re hiring. Make sure it’s a “good fit” and not just something that feels right at the moment.

Chuck Violand (more about Chuck)
SFS Instructor
CEO Violand Management Associates

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