A couple of weeks ago SmartCompany ran an article called Juggling dual roles.
“Yes but… it’s very hard work.”
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“Yes but… it’s hard to give your best to the day job when your mind is on growing a business.”
“Yes but… it’s hard to grow a business when you are so busy on the day job…”
Not long after the article was published I spent some time with a very successful company that had recently started expanding into a major new business.
The company had thoroughly done its homework on the new venture and was completely committed to making it a success. In fact, the company held the project in such high regard that they assigned the very best employees to it to some degree.
Six months after launching the project the management team was dismayed that the project wasn’t shaping up as quickly and as neatly as they thought it would. They were especially disappointed that their top talent didn’t seem to be delivering the goods.
To help understand what was going awry, the management team had a straight-talking session with the project team. The feedback was unanimous. While the staff on the project were delighted to be working on it, they felt frustrated that they couldn’t immerse themselves fully in it.
Yes, the employees had reallocated their workloads so that they could work part-time on the project and part-time in their usual role, and yes many were – without complaint – working significant amounts of overtime to get the project done. But despite this, they all felt strongly that they didn’t have the “headspace” to perform at their best in both roles. Over and over again the individuals on the project team said they felt they weren’t doing either their project role or their usual role to the standard they expected of themselves.
And really it’s not that surprising. If it’s tough to hold down a job and start a business at the same time why should it be any easier, just because it’s all within the same company, to hold down a role and start a new venture?
The company I visited is now moving some of the key staff full-time into the project. It was a tough decision to make, but they figured that the project was so important a part-time commitment just didn’t do it justice.