That’s the third article for “The Making Of An Online Business” series, and it will deal with a sensitive topic: human resources. For those of you who came directly here, the posts in this series outlines my 10 years experience in running my own online business. The first two articles can be found here
and the summary for the whole series can be found here.
It’s About Relationships
The first and most important thing I learned during this fantastic experience was the fact that teams are not at all about results, but about relationships. Too often people are judged for their contribution to the assets of the company, but their real value lies in what they can provide at the relationship level. Maybe they can have skills, but if they are not able to relate in way that would make those skills openly and honestly available, their contribution is lost.
A good relationship means that communication goes well even if the skills are not. You have to be able to communicate your ideas and goals to all members of your team. Even if they don’t have the skills at the moment, they must understand what they have to do. The resources to do what has to be done will come, one way or another.
My team was around 25 people at its peak, with an average of 10-15 people most of the time. Maybe this approach is biased by the fact that my teams were pretty small, but if the relationship factor was so important in such a small universe, imagine how important it will be for a business with 100 or 500 employees.
There are just two main types of relationships you can have in business: the relationships between you, the manager / owner / entrepreneur with your employees, and the relationships they can have with one each other. The first model is radiant, you will be the epicenter and you will basically control what goes out, but the second is more like a graph, a web. Trying to control this web of relationships between your employees is impossible. You can’t really control that.
What you can do, however, is to be sure they all have the same set of attitudes that will make their relationships sustainable over time. All those people must share some core values about the way they relate. And when they face problems, if they have the same attitude toward problems they will eventually overcome the obstacle. But if they have only skills and no common attitude, their skills will be just useless.
The truth is that you cannot really create something on a damaged foundation. No matter how much money you put in, how much technical skills are you pouring in, no matter how much luck you may have at some point. A business is a web of relationships and if this web is broken, you won’t be able to catch your prey. If there are significant holes in this web, you will lose opportunities and spend your time repairing those holes.
That is against the normal, established human resources techniques and I’m quite aware about that. Every human resources approach focus on skills, and every CV you read emphasize that. I gave up reading CV’s long ago. A CV can only tell you about skills, but not about attitude. And attitude was the main factor for my human resources policy.