Simon says, “Distribute work and responsibilities efficiently and
Distributing assignments efficiently is a science in its own right;
and Simon does it well. Being sure the right people are assigned to the right
tasks is where it starts. It goes on to include being sure things are done in
the right order, at the right time. The science of efficiency expands out to
include avoiding bottlenecks, eliminating any loss of resources and materials,
preventing errors and having to do things over again, and getting continuous
feedback from customers. Achieving and maintaining efficiency is quite complex.
For Simon, though, there is an underlying dimension skilled leaders
emphasize at least as much as maximizing the efficient conversion of resources
into products and services that are fully responsive to the needs and interests
of customers. Simon does not take advantage of anyone. The secret is there are
obvious and not so obvious ways people are taken advantage of; and Simon avoids
The most blatant abuse happens when a good team member has more and
more work piled on top of work piled on yesterday. Another version of the same
kind of abuse happens when work is given to someone just because the leader is
not going to get any hassle or flack. Some people have positive attitudes and
just do not say, “No,” when asked to do something. They are simply
too nice for their own good; but fortunately, Simon understands even his best
workhorse can be run too fast or pushed too hard. The best of them needs a good
measure of oats and some time in the barn now and then.
Two other areas of unfairness and abuse are also worth noting. First,
tolerating anyone’s not doing what is expected or doing less than is expected
is unfair to others on the team. Letting shirkers get away with it does nothing
but shift the burden unfairly onto others. Second, assuming everyone is equally
efficient is wrong. This is particularly unfair to those who are unusually
efficient. The exceptional few can routinely do a two-hour job in an hour and a
half. Do you then expect them to do more work in the extra half hour? Simon
does not think so. He will discuss options with them; but the choice is theirs.
Simon certainly would not increase the load just because someone is especially
efficient and hard-working.
There is a further but hidden area of unfairness even Simon can
overlook if he is not very attentive. People should not be expected to do
things they do not know how to do or do not know how to do well. The solution
here is fairly simple. Identify individuals who do know how to do what is
expected and add them to the team. For Simon, there is an even better solution.
Train people who are already on the team to do the job, to do it well. They are
already onboard, already committed to the mission, already vested in the team’s
success. Simon knows it is always better to invest in those who are already on
your team than to take a chance on newcomers. The Johnny-come-lately likely
will do fine; but Simon prefers sticking with the horses that got him there,
whenever he can.