Layers: Onions, ogres and your team

Okay.  Here is where I am at.

I’ve been percolating blog posts in my head for weeks.  At one point I think I had about five partially formulated posts and I wanted to write them out.  I truly did. But I didn’t and now I’m down to one idea.  Sigh.

I wanted to write, but

  • My bed was too cozy
  • There were movies to watch
  • Work is busy
  • We are doing renovations
  • I had chores to do, food to eat and books to read…

I’m thinking that the book I thought I might write someday, well it’s not happening anytime soon.  Oh the pressure of being a little-known blogger.

Seriously though, I would like to talk about layers.

Here in the great white north, layering is a must for two reasons: 1) it keeps you warm and 2) it hides the weight you gain in preparation for hibernation.  (BTW – that second reason may or may not be applicable only to me).  It’s true – layers have a purpose, but they can also hide a multitude of sins.

Every work group, team and department is composed of layers of people.  One quick glance at an organizational chart will confirm this.  There are layers defined by titles and responsibilities.  There are layers established by technical experience and years of service.  And then there are hidden layers that are created by a pecking order and ability to fly under the radar.

Ask a manager to tag his or her employees in terms of whatever ranking you see fit (A-players/ B-players; 1st line/ 4th line; Stars / Space debris) and they can do it.  They know who is the “one to watch” and who is dead weight. Or at least they think they do.

I find in interesting when employees leave (or are asked to leave) and the assumptions that were made about this person suddenly fall apart.  The golden boy…you know the one, the one you HAD to keep because of the amount of corporate knowledge he had…the one that would cause absolute chaos for the rest of the team if he wasn’t there….the one that when you started going through his files and work you realized that there were some serious issues…issues that are now going to bite you in the ass not only because they exist, but you didn’t even know about them.  That’s how good that golden boy was.

And there’s the opposite.  When you finally manage to rid your team of that toxic person, the slacker, the negative Nellie…there is a collective sigh of relief among your employees (led by yourself). That is until the next in line – the second most toxic slacker emerges.  The one that you didn’t know about because the departed employee was taking up your time, allowing others to stay off your radar.

What’s my point? My point is that you don’t know your team as well as you think you do.  My point is that your team is composed of defined and subtle layers and that until you remove or peel back these layers – you likely will never know what’s really in there.

Layers have a purpose, but they can also hide a lot of things.


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