What's so wrong with believing that we should all do only the things we find easy and fun in business, and delegate the rest to someone else? Here's why that won't create a giant happy circle of people doing things they all find easy and fun, and what's healthier for your business.
In my description of who I don’t work with, I say:
“You believe that anything in business that is not easy or fun can or should be delegated to someone who does find it easy or fun.”
That surprises some folks.
After all, shouldn’t we all be aiming to do ONLY what’s easy and fun for us?
Shouldn’t we do only what lights us up and makes us shine and follow our bliss and other bumper-stickery loveliness?
No. That’s platitudes, not pragmatism. It sounds nice, but it’s simply not true.
It isn’t true because, no matter how much we all might want to create an environment where everyone gets to do only the work that makes each of us shine and frolic in fields of beaming gold happiness…
Into every business some utter crap will fall.
And no one likes dealing with the crapwork of business.
“I love reading harsh and abusive emails from customers who are angrier than the situation at hand warrants because they’re dealing with a lot of stuff at home or at work and they’re taking it out on customer service. It’s so fun!”
-said no one, ever
“My passion is getting pinged at 2am because a customer site in a different time zone blew up during a major launch! It’s my bliss.”
-said no one in their right mind
But, of course, most customer service won’t be that bad, and most tech support won’t be an emergency at 2am.
So what’s wrong with finding someone who loves customer service or is passionate about tech support?
Nothing, in and of itself.
The problem with the idea of believing that YOU should only do what is fun and easy for you, or that anyone should only do what is fun or easy for them, is that it ignores the question:
What happens to the stuff that no one thinks is fun and easy?
Anyone who has ever worked in any kind of job where they weren’t the Head Honcho is keenly aware: crap tends to roll downhill.
And that is demoralizing, especially in an environment where the Head Honcho claims that “We all do only what we love!”
The person at the bottom of the hierarchy always knows that’s false… because they’re the ones doing all the stuff that everyone else dislikes. They’re the ones not only collecting all the crapwork, but constantly being asked to swallow the lie that everyone does only what they love while they do it.
It’s an unhealthy environment, whether you’re a team of 20 or a team of 2.
The Remedy: Be honest about the fact that sometimes work feels like work.
In a strong, healthy, durable business, everyone involved is going to sometimes do stuff that they don’t find fun, that they don’t love, that they wish they didn’t have to do.
You know why?
Because it’s work.
Because even if you’re doing something you love and that you’re passionate about and that you think is fun and you’re following your bliss, you’re still going to encounter moments, or days, or maybe whole weeks, that feel like… work.
No amount of hiring or delegation will ever “cure” this.
It’s not supposed to.
Because it's not something to cure; it's not a symptom. It's the nature of all enterprises requiring effort.
Deciding that each time you run into something that isn’t “fun” or “easy” or “your passion” means that you should delegate it to someone else leads to bigger problems:
(1) It sets you up for disappointment, because it’s unrealistic.
(2) It creates an unhappy and unhealthy team, where each person below you has to swallow a lie about only doing what they love to suit your professed worldview.
(3) And it adds unnecessary overhead, as you inevitably hire way too many, too fast, too often.
You cannot hire or delegate your way out of work sometimes feeling like work.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something that will not live up to its sales pitch.
What you can do is foster realistic expectations: for yourself and anyone you might work with.
That way you’re not disappointed when the un-fun times show up. You’re not immediately looking for an escape hatch: instead, you can simply keep focused and keep working, which gets you through the un-fun times that much quicker.
And if you’re working with others, it sets the tone for them as well. There isn’t a pressure to deny that sometimes it sucks; there’s just an expectation that when it sucks, we stay focused and get through it.
Hopefully with a good sense of humor and plenty of support for one another.
That’s how healthy businesses operate.
(And it fosters way more genuine fun in the long run.)