Empirical formula for Team Management

Empirical formula for Team Management

As a consultant, I get the opportunity to meet several people - clients, prospects, partners, some known and many unknown faces. The beauty of the opportunity to meet different people is that it helps me understand people, their behaviours and how they influence their teams.

A person's culture is influenced by society, family, region and workplace amongst other things. I recently went to meet a CEO and was trying to locate his office in a rather vast real estate when someone offered to locate him. This "someone" was presumably a staff significantly junior than the CEO in the company. What struck me was that his phone contact list showed "CEO Sir". Culturally, the message that I got was this "someone" held the CEO is high esteem, would possibly seek guidance from seniors in the company, will be a great foot soldier. As I tried to find more about him, I realised he is from a semi-urban town, lived in a patriarchal family where his father decided what was good for him, revered his teacher and now his CEO. The CEO, I know him from the past, is not a hierarchical personality. He mingles easily with everyone in the company and did not setup a culture where someone needs to address him as "Sir". And I always addressed him by his first name and he was just fine with it.

Cut to scene two, I'm working with a rather bright leader who heads a Business Unit in a company that creates products touching many of our lives. He probably does not have an "A team" but makes up for it by "telling them" what to do. The BU head knows his clients, he can expect the unexpected, tide over difficult situations and be difficult when needed!! His behaviour is influenced by many aspects - went to a college held in high esteem, stayed in a hostel and learnt life lessons "experientially", travelled well around the world and now got into an "Alpha Male" type of role. He knows what he is doing and does it the way he wants it.

I had two big learnings from the Apartment community in which I live. I love this place - just off the busy city centre, but quietly tucked next to a lake and hosts almost a 1000 people. The last two years saw a flurry of activities that helped me learn

Learning No.1 : As years rolled over, the apartment was showing its age and was in need of some serious upgrades to the infrastructure. For those living in large gated communities, you would understand the effort it takes to convince hundreds of families to part with a significant contribution to fund such an initiative. The approach taken by a few members in the community was to articulate, nudge, negotiate, get buy-in, show progress, get more buy-in and eventually have everyone to contribute. And the core execution team stayed together until the upgrades were done sacrificing a lot of their personal time for the benefit of the community. This is a great organizational skill and we see it in many corporates as well. When a large change is to be initiated, its important to identify few individuals who will constantly communicate with teams, implement the change in mission mode, demonstrate rigour, be open to suggestions, show agility to tweak as needed, but eventually carry everyone over the finish line. Such individuals eventually become the next set of organizational leaders.

Learning No.2 : As the upgrades were being implemented, as with any community there were nay-sayers who kept challenging the execution team and some even tried to scuttle the initiatives. Eventually good sense prevailed and every one went home happier. The key learning here is to develop the art of accepting the nay-sayers as key stakeholders, validating whether their points are correct are not without being judgmental and more importantly make an earnest effort in converting them into supporters. This is no easy job - whether in a community or at workplace. It takes a lot of guts for someone to invite nay-sayers to a meeting and hear them out. Especially in the Corporate world as the repercussions could be anywhere between losing your bonus to losing your job if your mission is not accomplished

Fresh from coaching my high school kids in Mathematics (annual exams are around the corner!!), I'm tempted to write an empirical formula that Managers should remember to get the best out of their teams

Team output = Fn {[(FS + A) * L]/X}


FS = Foot Soldiers who give more than 100% to the organization

A = The Alpha Male who exhibits Authority when needed and execute with rigour

L = Leaders who have a multiplying effect of (FS + A) through their communication, negotiation, coaching and nudging

X = Nay-sayers who can bring down the initiative. Being a denominator, Managers and Leaders should strive to keep this down to a small number

Thoughts and Experiences?