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Week 5 Blog: “Role Dilemmas”

Week 5 Blog:

“Role Dilemmas” Chapter 5, The Founder’s Dilemmas.

Recognizing and appreciating people who may offer (the not necessarily obvious) “skills you can teach and skills you can’t” (Chapter 6, How to Hire A-Players).

Talented people can be found in various places, you just always have to be looking and aware of the people that are making a place run well. In How to Hire A-Players, Herrenkohl references different everyday places that you could find quality employees if you look around. For example waitresses, baristas at Starbucks and teachers. Another untapped market he mentioned, that I found very interesting, is the mothers that are trying to get back in the workforce. It is unfortunate that the way our society sees mothers after taking a few years off to raise infants and then it is so hard for them to get back in the workforce. The gap in their resume is viewed as negative and that they might be out of practice. But these are hardworking people who have degrees and work experience. This untapped market is filled with lots of talented people, you can hire them part-time as an incentive so they can still spend time with their kids and they will work just as hard if not harder than full-time employees.

I also liked his idea of having an internship and program where you can train and find quality A-players. Also if people get a lot out of the internship they will encourage other A-players to apply for it in following years and you could have an in house way of recruiting A-players.

Sometimes employees have to take on the work of two or three people due to layoffs or people just leaving, and they are treated the same as employees that do half the work. They don’t get raises, recognition, or appreciation, so what would make them want to stay working there. They would want to leave too. And when they do it will leave the company in a bad place then, someone that was picking up the slack and holding everything together leaves then things will start falling apart. This is why it is important to keep your employees happy and wanting to work there and to show appreciation for their hard work.

In The Founder’s Dilemma, Wasserman points out the strengths and weaknesses to overlapping roles and division of labor in a startup. Overlapping roles, having more roles that cover the same thing works well in a start-up when you don’t have much money you can have fewer people covering many roles. The division of labor is clear, separate roles that don’t overlap in any way.

Overlapping Roles Strengths:

  1. Offers flexibility to early start-ups.
  2. Team members can help where help is needed.
  3. Collective knowledge of the combined team.

Overlapping Roles Weaknesses:

  1. Responsibility dispersed may weaken incentives.
  2. Overloaded startups should try to minimize redundant responsibilities
  3. Tension may increase with founders conflict
  4. As the startup grows and overlapping minimizes, team members may resist having to focus on specific areas and roles.

Division of Labor Strengths:

  1. Clear titles and roles and responsibilities.
  2. Provides better accountability
  3. Heterogeneous teams fit role assignments to founder’s strengths.

Division of Labor Weaknesses:

  1. May be hard to get individual functions to collaborate on crossing tasks.
  2. In homogeneous teams may cause suboptimal role assignments.
  3. Failure to evolve can disconnect organizational structure and task demands.
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2 thoughts on “Week 5 Blog: “Role Dilemmas”

  1. I really appreciate that you included the point on internships. As someone who has worked with college students my whole life, I can’t stress enough how important this experience is from a student perspective. The opportunity to gain meaningful work experience is critical for all majors, as they seek to connect what they are learning in school to actual tasks and achievements on the job. Not only can they take some of the pressure off of you and your team, but you are helping them position themselves for a great full-time job after graduation even if that isn’t with you.

    I’ve practiced this myself. When I was in graduate school (a million years ago) I took advantage of every opportunity that crossed my path. A practicum and internship were required for my program, but I also took a graduate assistantship, volunteered for other departments on campus, and taught several classes. All of these experiences helped me narrow down where my interests were and give me a really strong resume, so when I graduated I started my career at a level that was significantly higher than I could have expected otherwise. I also had a TON of experiences to talk about during the interview process.

    Thanks for a great post!

  2. Hi Mackensie,

    You did a nice job writing this article, I really liked it. Especially how you mentioned some employers forcing employees to do the work of multiple employees. Although the business might feel like they are “winning” by getting a single person to carry the load normally requiring three people, in reality businesses are losing – its just slightly more difficult to quantify employee moral than the wage savings. Yet it’s the sad truth. So many employers are short-sighted in this area.

    Well done,

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