5 Rules for Teams

No, this isn't a knock-off of the the book with a similar name.  I haven't read that book.  I've read one book by that author and found it . . . ridiculous. For one thing, I am not a big fan of fables. Most fables preach. And they drip with cheesy dialogue. Instead, this post it about the five rules you should adopt for any company or organization you run. 1. Healthy Work Hours. I had a Captain in the Navy who said, "If you can't do our jobs in forty hours a week, you suck at your job." If your project plan or business model require 45, 60, or 80 hour weeks from people, you suck as a manager. Fix it, or you will be out of a job or out of business. People have lives.  You don't want people without lives talking to your customers, do you?

2. Push Happiness. Knowledge workers who are primed for happiness perform mental tasks fifty percent faster and eighty percent more accurately than equally capable counterparts who prepare by studying. If you make people work eighty hours a week, they probably won't be too happy, though. See how this all fits together?

3. Forget Evaluations. If you, as a manager, don't have cojones to tell people when they're doing great and when their begging, then you shouldn't be a manager. If your people don't accept your real-time evaluations, then maybe you don't know how to talk to people. Quarterly or annual evaluations, though, are a huge waste of time and money. They irritate people. They create unnecessary stress and worry. Don't have them.

4. Don't Grow On Purpose. Large enterprises die horrible, smelly deaths. If you're big enough to be mentioned in Built to Last or Good to Great, you're too big to survive. Big teams, big companies, and big charities end up abandoning anything like value and meaning. Usually. They have no choice. Beyond some limit, the enterprise does nothing but grow itself.  Dare to stay small.

5. Overpay for Talent. I'm not talking about paying the C-suite (if you're unfortunate enough to have one) 230X the average employee salary. I'm talking about paying everyone fifteen percent above the norm for what they do.

You don't have to give huge raises every year. You do have to overpay for good people. Overpaid employees know they're overpaid, just as underpaid employees know you're one step removed from a slave trader. Underpaid workers do the bare minimum until something better pops up on Monster.com. Underpaid employees treat your customers like crap, abuse privileges, and waste time. Why shouldn't they? You're abusing them by underpaying for their labor. All's fair.

I once lived near a gas station and convenience owned by a small company in St. Louis. I love their hot dogs, and the store was right on my way to work. I was there every day. About the time a QuikTrip opened nearby, my favorite station started going down hill. They'd be out of hot dogs. The coffee would be empty or three hours old. Lines would be long, customers crabby, and employees rude.

I asked Wanda, one of the weekend employees, what happened. She told me that people left to QuikTrip and another chain because they pay much better and there's always at least two people working. "When the QuickTrip opened," Wanda told me, "management panicked. They wanted to cut costs so they could cut prices. They reduced everyone's hours and eliminated raises we were supposed to get. So the best peopel quit. I'm only here because it's close and I work part time."

That gas station was later sold to another operator who tore it down and built a shiny new place where there's always at least two people working. The new company pays very well. The tightwad is out of business.

Overpay for talent. Make people happy. Happy people are more effective, more loyal, and friendlier to your customers. Simple.