One of the most essential elements to any operation is your team composition. Besides selecting the kind of project you want to do, building your team might just be the biggest thing to affect the outcome of your project. Ken Courtright compares and contrasts the pros and cons of using agencies as opposed to hiring employees. Choosing what type of teammates you’ll have is wholly dependent on what kind of leader you are. Whichever path you choose, it still boils down to teamwork and effective leadership.
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Agencies vs. Employees
Why not just have very few limited amounts of employees and why not use agencies? On the flip side, how about never using agencies and just building an incredible culture and only use employees? This country is in a very interesting time. There are lots of discussions, both in and out of Harvard Business Review and McKinsey and all these types of agencies. There are arguments for both sides that are so compelling. I want to hit some tiny highlights because I could sell you both ways for sure. Why agencies? No matter what you do, I don’t care if you’re 100% manufacturing and you’ve got 800 employees in a factory in Wyoming. There are agencies that you can outsource the management of those employees.
The question is why would you possibly want to do that? I learned a lesson that management manages under four different styles. Employees receive input in four different languages or styles. In Income Store’s case, our 200-employee company, our management was delivering strategies, plans, growth concepts, directives in what is called an Adhocracy Management style. That means very entrepreneurial, very quick thinking, not necessarily deep reasoning behind a plan, but very fast to move and can adapt in S-curve and pivot quickly. It turns out, after doing a seven-day assessment with 600 questions, it turns out that 85% of our employees would prefer a bureaucratic systematic style of directive. They would like to be spoken to and would work more productively if we delivered all of our messages in the language they would like.If you can build an incredible culture from day one, culture eats strategy for lunch. Click To Tweet
Here’s a challenge. We’re years into running on eCommerce, websites and managing a massive 2,000 website portfolio. It’s going to take 1 to 2 years to shift the culture so that they understand what management is looking for and management understands what they’re looking for to bridge the two together. Why go to an agency? It’s simple. There’s no culture clash with an agency. You hire them, you give them a set of deliverables, you come up with an agreed-upon price, which typically with an agency is going to be far less than the cost of employees with health care and everything else. If they don’t perform, you let them go or don’t renew the contract. It’s simple. You part friends and everybody’s happy. You can’t quite do that with an employee or group of employees.
Let’s go to the employee side. Why would you want to never touch an agency and crank with employees like we have? Number one, if you can build an incredible culture from day one, I’m not talking about a culture totally have management speaking to employee to an employee receiving a directive from management. I’m talking about the overall general culture. As many publications have proven, culture eats strategy for lunch. What that means is, when the team knows the mission and the team knows what’s at stake, the strategy doesn’t matter. If the culture is in alignment top-down, the results happen. That has definitely been the case in our company for a long time. I can even say in the ‘90s when we had a chain of video stores in that pretty big sign company that culture was king back then.
I do want to add a little asterisk. There is a lot of buzz about teams. There’s a lot of books on the business rack about teams, dysfunctions of a team, high performing team. For those of you that have the time, I would urge everybody to get into Harvard Business Review’s the top three articles on high-performance teams. There’s an actual definition of them. There are a couple of books that are considered the books on high-performance teams. There’s a lot of discussion on this and I think the definition of high performing teams is going to change but suffice it to say this. We coach a lot of people that say they have great teams. A lot of people define teams as a group of people that get along and have gotten along for a long time that do meet deadlines and hit dates. That is even close to the definition of high performing teams.
Because there are different versions of high performing teams in different industries, it can’t be done on a show. I would urge everybody to start with a Google search. If you can get into HBR, it’s $100. You’re going to want to download the top three of the top four that come up that most relate to you on what they say goes on and high-performance teams. It’s interesting that sometimes you can even use agencies inside of a high performing team. This is a seed planter. Just give some thought to the power. If you could bring in some outside agencies and depending on your size, there is a lot of moves made by companies where they walk up to an agency and say, “How would you like to work on this project,” which would be their biggest client. They end up in essence, owning that agency and they strategically buy it. There’s a lot of moves to be made there. It might be right for you or might not be right for you. On the flip side, if you’re an agency and a massive company comes up to you, and all of a sudden they want to be 55% of your business, I would tell you, you might want to be very careful there. I hope this helps.
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