Bomb, Slug, Hammer & Brick: Deconstructing Employee Types

Sachin Mahajan, mobileLIVE

There’s an ancient African proverb, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

We all have personal and professional aspirations and to make them tangible realities we build our tribe (teams). The hope is to realize them as a collective in the fastest and most cost effective manner. In this journey, we generally add members to the tribe who complement our skillsets and share the larger vision. The paradigm used to hire tribe members generally boils down to gut feel when one is spoilt for choices of great candidates.

Having built teams for nearly 2 decades, wanted to deconstruct the categories I bucket people into i.e. after ensuring they are hungry enough and smart enough for the role:

- The Slug: No one really wants a slug. They rarely ever fire, however slugs have variants too. The ones that you really want to stay away from are more like vampires and suck the blood and energy out of the entire team. I try and keep a very close lookout for them, as they essentially could put the entire program in jeopardy, in very short order.

- Bricks: Individuals who like to perform similar/repetitive tasks day in and day out- but they do a splendid job of it; essentially ensuring standardization and processes are defined & followed. Imperative to have solid bricks on the shoulders of which the organization can operate on a day to day basis.

- Hammer: Bright, smart and hungry. Right out of undergrad or B-Schools and ready to take on the world. Have all the right ingredients but can’t really put a finger on what the client needs or corporate wants. They then are hammered to produce the right output and ensure they make a habit of it.

- Bombs: The hammers, with enough experience, eventually convert into bombs! Not in the literal sense, as they don’t blow anything up…in fact the very opposite. They are parachuted into situations and be it any domain or function, they manage to find ways to get the job done. And not just complete it but absolutely nail it and move on!

I truly believe in hiring horses for courses and have had the opportunity to build teams with a good mix of bricks, hammers and bombs. This is generally followed by a lot of storming, norming and then hopefully performing, collectively.

Apart from identifying amazing talent - part of building killer teams is to have the ability to be brutally honest about one’s own capabilities and limitations, and then getting the right individuals who can plug the gap and help grow multi-fold. Having said that, given that we spend majority of our life working it is imperative to have a good laugh and truly get along with the teams that you form. For me personally, the most fun I have had is when we as a team, have worked 100 hour weeks but at the same time have taken the time to laugh at each other, ourselves and others! And as cheesy as it sounds- teams that play together, win together. Period.

PS: Views are my own and not necessarily my employers

Sachin Mahajan, Toronto (Canada)

Consulting Practice Head, Amdocs (Ex-TELUS Director)

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