The one wish on almost every business owner and company head honcho’s list is to grow the business, steadily and sustainably. Growth is a logical progression and it is a measure of positive things happening to the business.
But growth isn’t merely a concept for the strategising and the orchestrating; it is most certainly for the doing.
In a typical large corporation scenario, a person rises through the ranks from intern (or slave) to associate to executive to manager to group head and eventually to positions up in the rarified air. In the case of a smaller organisation that might have started with three people doing everything – from making the coffee and answering phones to building the pipeline and writing the news releases – the core team often finds itself doing less writing and coffee-making, and more schmoozing and delegating as the company expands.
Both situations are logical progressions. However, what isn’t a logical progression – at least not to me – is the heavy reduction in doing as one makes their way up the corporate ladder or meanders through a company expansion. The elbow grease that defines honing one’s craft and skill is invariably replaced by “strategising” and “managing”, aka “high level”.
I have found that this significant reduction in doing results in the eventual inability to perform even simple tasks such as formatting a Word document. It also leads to an erosion of knowledge and empathy to what goes on in the real world, on the ground. If we look at the PR industry, the time and effort required to develop and pitch a good story are easily forgotten by “high levellers”. They can’t remember when they last crafted a pitch, let alone delivered one to a crusty over-worked and self-inflated journalist.
If a person cannot do the fundamentals that are required of their role or function, that person effectively has no ability. How much trust would you put in the hands of a dentist who hasn’t wielded a scalpel in five years? Would you chance it with a hair stylist whose last cut was a mullet in the 80s?
Strip the office of its team members and personal assistants and you’ll find that, in most cases, you don’t even have a decent Word document; “high level” doesn’t get the job done.
Regardless of industry and office, a person is worth their salt when they can prove the currency of their doing, which is the key thing that keeps them relevant.
Every time my mind wanders to the topic of company deadwood – oftentimes expensive deadwood – I recall with fondness a phrase rattled off by an old friend, “Given enough time, shit always bubbles its way to the top.”