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One For All and All For One

August 6th, 2016

Making sure that we’re all invested in each other’s success.

Skin in the game doesn’t just apply to Hey Harry’s relationship with its clients. Every team member at Hey Harry Worldwide also has skin in the game. What that means is they earn less on a base level, but they have limitless capacity to increase their earnings. What that means is they never have to walk past a Ferrari (or a house in Tuscany, or an opportunity to build a school in Nepal), and say, “It sucks that I’ll never have the chance to have (or do) that.” It also means that they won’t be working late on weekends so they can buy management any of those things either. It’s called mutual accountability for invested team members.

Mutual accountability is a central dynamic of business. Invested team members drive companies, are responsible to the company’s stakeholders (clients, suppliers, other team members), and invested team members steer the direction of the company and uphold the standards they have set.

Mutual Accountability Increases Loyalty

The cost of replacing and retraining staff is more than just the monetary. As in any service business, a large part of our equity is the relationships we enjoy with our clients, as well as the depth of information we have about our clients’ business. When a member of the team leaves for another agency, they take with them part of that relationship, as well as jeopardizing the clients’ trust by taking valuable information and insights and potentially trading on those to competitors for their own gain.

An agency that is accountable by and to everyone is obviously less likely to suffer from staff turnover, not only because of the invested stake of the staff members in the company, but because of the reverse as well. When we hire employees, we are also picking partners, so we do it with a bit more care than if it were a casual relationship that could be easily severed by two weeks notice in lieu of pay.

Mutual Accountability Increases Productivity

The essence of work today is teamwork. And yet the notion of ‘working together’ is hard to define, and even harder to legislate. Barriers such as ego, power and fear come into play. But what if you all own something together? What if you have the same stake in the success of the company as the people you are teamed with?

A team that works together for mutual benefit works the best. Your initial fear that someone else’s positive contribution might make you seem inadequate is dwarfed by the understanding that every good idea, no matter who comes up with it, is to your benefit. Brainstorming takes the place of Blamestorming as everyone pushes forward towards a common goal.

Mutual Accountability Increases Responsibility and Trust

In business, you are either adding value or you are adding cost. Irresponsible behaviour costs a business because it breaks down the hundreds of human transactions that occur every day.

Everyone at Hey Harry Worldwide is responsible for their own behaviour and attitude, but as invested team members, they are also responsible to each other for the smooth and successful running of the company’s business. There is an inherent understanding that you will not let your colleagues down, and this is the responsibility that accompanies the gift of investiture. And it is the fulfillment of this mutual responsibility that builds a trust that negates the need, and associated costs, of a complex process for approvals for every little action that takes place within the office.

Mutual Accountability Is Better Than Empowerment

Empowerment, though a wonderful idea, is predicated on the notion of transitive action. That is, it is given to you by someone else – usually, in business, by your boss. The principle effect of empowerment is to create an artificial sense of security whereby you believe, when you go home at night, when you talk to your friends or loved ones on the weekend, that you own your business agenda in the same way that owners own their businesses. This is, of course, patently untrue!

We think that mutual accountability is the more honest form of what empowerment only offers the suggestion of. Because mutual accountability cannot be taken away at the whim of the times or by the decision of a superior. It is what empowerment only pretends to be.

Mutual Accountability Releases A Trapped Spirit

The human spirit lies somewhere within us all, and it cannot be owned by anyone other than itself.

When people are employed, they mete out just enough of that spirit to make the appropriate contribution to their company, always ready, at the drop of a hat, to transfer that spirit to a new owner if need be.

But if you say to someone that you are an invested member of this company, that you are invested in its success, something extraordinary happens. Real people emerge from behind the walls they put up to protect their human spirit, and real people make better, more real contributions. This is where a true team of individuals is created.

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One Response to “One For All and All For One”

  1. Nice thinking and nice model.

    I once suggested to the prez of BBDO that the day someone started on a piece of business, they receive $500 worth of stock in their client’s company. Not inexpensive, but can you imagine what kind of impact it could have on the team’s thinking?

    Not to mention how it could be leveraged to existing/potential clients 🙂