What exactly do we pay him for?

Submitted by Karen on 28th October 2015

Human Resources - Employee Purpose

We had a conversation in the office last week, the subject of which we think probably crops up fairly regularly amongst people of a certain age who were young(ish) and impressionable in the early 1990’s.  The conversation concerned the fundamental question:

“What exactly was the point of Bez from the Happy Mondays?”

For those unfamiliar with this iconic 90’s character, Bez was famous for doing nothing other than dancing backwards and forwards and occasionally shaking some maracas.  He didn't sing a note. He didn't play an instrument. He would bob around on the Happy Mondays' videos with a wild look in his eyes making faces at the camera.

If the purpose of the band was purely to make music, then it would be difficult to justify the inclusion of Bez. However, if the objective was to make money by selling records, gig tickets and merchandise then Bez was arguably the most important member of the group. He made no musical contribution (apart from the maracas), yet he epitomised the Happy Mondays and arguably still does, in spite of the fact that he now leads his own political party.  He does, really.

What is my point?

We've all come across someone whose value we question within an organisation. It may genuinely be because they do not actually contribute to the organisation's objectives.  They are along for the ride, for as long as the organisation is prepared to throw salary at them rather than admit that they serve no useful purpose and deal head on with the situation. That is a management issue.

However, there are also people whose roles are misunderstood and/or undervalued by their colleagues and external observers alike.  In many organisations performance measurement and hence reward is geared around measurable output (for example units sold or consultancy hours billed). In those organisations, colleagues whose purpose is to generate new business in order for others to do the work, supervise and monitor the technical output of their colleagues and maintain good relations with existing customers, can be regarded with suspicion.  This is very much a cultural issue.  Staff are so busy concentrating on what other people are doing, or not doing, that they lose their own sense of purpose.  Resentment builds, performance dips.

If a person in the organisation is genuinely pointless, then they should shape up or be shipped out.  If a person is in fact pivotal to organisational objectives but they are perceived by some as surplus to requirements, then the question has to be whether those business objectives and the person’s role is clearly understood.  Have the organisation’s objectives been communicated at all levels? Does everyone know what part they themselves play and what others contribute to those objectives?

If the management issue or the cultural issue – or both - is ringing bells (or shaking maracas…), give us a call on 01604 763494 or fill in the contact form to the right of the page and one of our Directors will be in touch to discuss your requirements.