How to Leverage the Power of Teamwork

July 2, 2017




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How to Leverage the Power of Teamwork without Getting Burned

 

Will your business require employees now or in the future?

Mother Theresa once said, “You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.”

King Solomon wrote: “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.”

While I recognize the value of employees, I realize they are only one of many ways to harness the power of teamwork.

Neither Mother Theresa nor King Solomon were speaking about employees; they were speaking about teamwork.

If you own a business, you will at some point need to leverage the talents of other people to accomplish what you want to accomplish. You might know how to do a lot of things, but I guarantee you don’t know how to do everything.

So whose talent will you leverage? How will you go about soliciting the help you need?




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One possible answer–employees. It’s true. Employees can take your company to the next level. But, at the same time, they can severely complicate business.

Think about it. You’ve got to guarantee your employee steady income, provide benefits, remit additional taxes, manage projects, plan schedules, train, etc. Whether you do all these things personally or not, it’s still a lot of work.

Another possible answer–create a 50/50 partnership. You could partner with a friend to start a business and then rely on each other’s strengths to balance your weaknesses. If you take this approach, be cautious and make sure you’ve got legal documents detailing how your relationship will work. Most partnerships don’t work out.

A third possibility: Hire out specific jobs to other businesses or contractors. Let’s look at how hiring out work can be advantageous:

You get access to trained professionals, not inexperienced or untrained employees.

If the work you’ve paid for isn’t done to your liking, you usually have recourse (assuming the company or contractor is professional). You can ask for a refund, or you can ask that the work be redone.

You assign the job and give a deadline. That’s it. You rarely have to follow-up. You pay the company when your work is completed and hire them again as the need arises.

If you are ultimately dissatisfied with the work performed by the company you hired, you can “fire” them and never “hire” them again. The beauty of it? The company you “fire” can’t sue you.

I know that hiring out work can be more costly on a per hour basis than hiring an employee, but hiring out work comes with far fewer headaches. If demand in your business ever falls sharply, you’ll worry about how to pay or fire the employees you have. But if you have no employees, then you have nothing to worry about.

Let me take a moment to expand on the fourth bullet by addressing employee versus employer lawsuits.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you?” It seems that employees have forgotten this saying. In the new millennium, I expect many employees to look for ways to sue their employers so they can make a fistful of money fast. Unfortunately, it seems there are more than enough unscrupulous lawyers who are more than willing to take employees’ grievances to court.

For this reason alone I believe you’d be well-advised to avoid any business that will require employees… at least at the start. I know that sounds rough, but it could mean the difference between wealth and poverty.

The power an employee has to arbitrate is ridiculous. They can sue for all kinds of discrimination. You don’t even have to feel like you’ve discriminated. You may have had a perfectly good reason for hiring and firing your employee, but that doesn’t matter if your ex-employee feels that he or she has been discriminated against.

Let me give you a real life experience I personally witnessed at one of the firms I worked for a few years back.

The company didn’t know it at the time, but it had just entered into a multi-year recession. The company could feel the changes in the economy and knew it would have to cut back to survive. So the first round of lay-offs began.

In my department, the managers chose to lay-off two women. One was a black woman. She was paid well, but couldn’t keep up with her work load. Her desk was disheveled. Her co-workers knew that this woman’s clients were upset and frustrated because of her lack of follow-through and expertise within the field of her work. All good reasons for letting this woman go.

You’re probably thinking this woman sued for racial discrimination, but she did not. Actually, she was very cordial through the whole process. She humbly accepted her termination of employment, gathered her things, and even smiled on her way out.

Wow–I was impressed! This woman rolled with the punches very well, and I imagine is doing well today because of her indomitable attitude.

It was actually the second woman who sued the company. She was the highest paid employee in the department because she had ten years of experience in her field. The managers decided she should go because: She made over $80,000 per year; she was disorganized; her clients had complained about her slow responses to their inquiries; over half of her clients were leaving within the year for other firms; and she often caused “scenes” in front of other employees because of her uncontrollable temper.

Once again, the company had very good reasons for letting this woman go. When they informed her that her employment had been terminated, she was angry and reticent. She refused to sign her termination of employment forms, one of which was a waiver of her right to sue.

From that moment the company should’ve known that this employee was going to be a problem. She didn’t sign the form because: 1.) She was angry, and 2.) She was already looking for any reason she could find to sue the company.

It came as no surprise to me that she eventually did find a way to sue.

During an impromptu meeting to field employees’ questions about the lay-offs someone asked, “Why was she chosen to be let go?” The director of the department said, “Because of performance issues.” (And there were performance issues…)

Someone in the meeting called the woman who’d been laid off and informed her of what had been said in the meeting. The woman called her lawyer and–BANG–she set in motion a long legal case that would sap the time and energy and money from many of the company’s employees that remained employed.

I don’t know how the situation finally resolved itself, but regardless of how it ended, the company lost a lot of money because of the legal action she took.

I relate this story to point out that having employees is risky. I realize that some businesses will require you to have employees, and that’s okay. You just need to understand the kind of risk you’re taking.

A maxim I once heard says, “Hire slowly and fire fast.” That’s my advice to you. Be very wary when hiring. Check references and call previous employers. And if you ever discover that an employee is being dishonest or hostile toward you or the company, fire him fast!

You can always utilize the power of teamwork by hiring other companies to do your work. The real message here is: If you can get by without employees, do. If you can’t, hire with caution.

Next up: The Power of a Focused Business




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