So … jumping right in with a bit of consultant speak, you could argue that, in a changing world, the increasingly abstract nature of “management” and the arbitrary assignment of job “roles” with resource optimisation via typical didactic processes leave a culture and innovation gap.
- Those who naturally learn (autodidactic) are not necessarily those who you think they are.
- Those who are limited by a job spec are not necessarily doing all they can.
- Culture is as important a factor to innovation as any other, so why not look to those who helped define it in your business.
At The Coalface
Therefore, it’s not all the Alpha types who are important. It’s the Betas. These are the people at the coalface—who may have, in some long-forgotten time, found the mine in the first place. When working within organisations, they are the people I look for first.
- They know their stuff.
- They may have survived several management changes.
- They probably helped define the processes and are looking to improve them.
- They can’t be bothered with the politics higher up the org chart.
- They just “get on with it” and are, in theory, responsible for their own output and potentially their own jobs.
- They are looking to decrease friction and increase productivity—not necessarily because they have to, it’s because they want to.
- They provide the muscle memory for any business.
- They might not understand every nuance of your industry, but they know where the pain points are within the business.
- They are the people who know “where it comes from” and “why things are the way they are.”
- You know them, or at least you should.
Is Everything Old Obsolete?
Yet, for some reason, it’s the Betas who are in jeopardy when looking at any change management programme. They are often the first to leave when businesses hire a Millennial Alpha Dude (MAD) because “disruption and innovation maaan!” Not the Alphas, they pay the bills—you know, the ones who actually DO the work, really run the business, and are generally sceptical of random consultants coming into the room telling them what they already know, already suggested, and already had knocked back because they weren’t random consultants.
Ok, you could argue that as you usher in the new universe of massive disruption, that everything that is old and worn is obsolete, and that the only things that matter are fed to you by your business health dashboard bot.
You could—but you shouldn’t.
Developing any kind of evolutionary business strategy involves understanding loads of bits—joining the dots, making constellations. So why wouldn’t you include the stars when considering what next?
Are You Alpha Or Beta?
As an Alpha manager, perhaps, you should be thinking about the relative value that these Beta people offer. Starting with yourself, of course. It’s worth having a good, long, hard look to see whether you exhibit the kinds of traits that a solid, heart-of-gold Beta has.
- I’ve noticed something inefficient and changed it unaided and without permission.
- I went and found somebody else in the business who knew more than me and asked a question.
- I have significant domain knowledge and significant interest in how that domain is changing.
- I listened and trusted.
- I performed a random act of kindness with no expectation of a return.
- I read something about the industry I didn’t have to.
- I can tell you every bit of how our industry works and why.
- I am pushing for change constantly despite being held to short-term achievements.
- I am willing to concede I don’t know everything, but am keen to know more.
- I don’t attack others because I felt threatened.
If you scored less than six, then, perhaps, you should be looking to update your LinkedIn profile, work on your Dark Tetrad skills, continue reading “Atlas Shrugged,” or have a look around to find those who exhibit these behaviours as they will make you look good.
In a nutshell—the world is a hard-enough place without cutting loose those who are a significant part of the solution.
Be Better … Be a Beta.