Updated: Jul 19, 2020
Though I know 'One Man Show' as one of perfume brands, out of curiosity, asked google and found the name of a movie as well. But Oxford English Dictionary perfectly described: 'One-man show - a show performed by one person only'. Some days back, Daniel Ally, so profoundly said, "An organization is an extension of the person who created it" (see here). The severely dire truth! It's an ideal statement which creates an standard and standard is a yardstick to judge. This single statement of Daniel Ally covers an wide range of aspects which include norms, values and culture of an organization as well. But every organization on the face of the world starts with 'One Man'. Difference is made by the psychology of the entrepreneur and his or her habit! Hence, how does an organization look like where a 'One Man Show' is being performed? What are the cultural issues that become prominent in such environment? How to examine such cultural context before joining a 'One Man Show' company?
How Does a 'One Man Show' Company Look Like?
Top = Entrepreneur who is engaged in daily operation
Top tends to invade apparently in everything. Checks almost everything and tries to guide everybody. Hence, overburdened with extra work. Long practice makes it a habit and consequently, he becomes workaholic.
Top may appraise employees based on how many hours they stay in office rather than the quality and efficiency that employees portray since s/he him/herself belongs to that particular category as described in No.-1. Hence, the hierarchy gradually filled with less competent personnel. What will be the situation if same process continues for say, 20 years; 30 years or more?
Incompetent employees, over a long period of time gradually, take over the front seats of the cockpit. The worst thing is that these guys may not hire good people since they know their own capabilities and out of fear of loosing control, they may create an invisible shield by pushing aside talented employees causing them to leave some day! Again the circle of demons celebrate the rituals! How come Top would know all these?
Top likes to give decisions. Everybody knows it! All try to make him happy by giving him options to make decision. For employee, there is a benefit(!) attached i.e. if something adverse happen, s/he is safe. Hence, exercise of 'authority' gradually shrinks down until it reaches to a point where Top him/herself objects on 'task-ownership' of employees.
Meetings are mostly chaired by the Top. Lots of meetings but less of output. Functional Managers/Heads may have their own meetings but seldom take decision or fumble a lot to take decisions. Employees fear to take responsibility and keep themselves within the scope of their work. Fear engulfs prudence of Managers. Hence, democratic decision making process gradually gets abolished from the culture.
Decisions are taken by the top as described and cascades down to below. Since employees themselves don't take decisions and as authority is being missed, they become 'reactive' in nature gradually. Employees cease do most of the things proactively and wait for decision to come in to follow. Time flies by and time is money! Hence, an ideal environment of idles becomes apparent.
Top thinks him or herself superior. Pride gradually converts into Arrogance as Top is in the process of exercising all these (from Nos.1 to 6) so far unknowingly. As employees only follow the commands of the Top and Top dictates almost everything, the environment itself becomes a 'yes please' one. Rarely Top faces any 'no' from his/her employees. Hence, Top becomes more autocratic.
Top possesses less beliefs in the capacity of his/her employees. Tasks/assignments are usually generated from the Top only. Due to the practice of Nos. 1 to 6, a little development work only takes place when Top is available in office. Otherwise, it's a holiday!
Most of the cases, signing authority belongs to Top only. There can be a 'Signing Authority Matrix' in paper but may not be in practice. Since Top engages him/herself in daily operation so extensively, s/he thinks that it is possible for him/her to look into everything. As a result, it becomes difficult for Top to let others play some of his role to build trust and responsible ownership among Executives.
Such daily engagement of Top ceases the potentiality of exploring new opportunities. Top's networks shrink down day by day. Gets less time to work on policies, strategies, culture and environment.
If a proactive Manager/employee takes a decision, s/he may ask: "who told you to do so?" which ultimately kills the willingness of belonging to the organization and ruins the 'ownership' of the employee.
'Innovation' is a less priority thing in 'One Man Show Company'. 'Research' is worthless spend of time here.
Long term planning turns into an ancient process of doing things in this culture. Top tries to micro-manage everything when situation is tight. Unstructured planning leads to unstructured execution which consumes more time; delay charges penalty in the form of increased cost. Top sometimes gets irritated with all these happening around him but may fail to detect and address the environment has already been a 'yes please' one and filled with incompetent managers.
Depends on personality though, Top may listen to 'whispers' a lot! Since s/he has less time, it's seems psychologically easy-going for Top if s/he believes in someone from 'old-employees'. 'Old-employees', who are serving for a long period of time, has got a niche advantage: Top tends to think them as trust worthy (although it may not be!); their incompetence is not a countable issue here. If a competent new Manager wants to take initiatives, due to the reasons explained in Nos. 3, these incompetent Superiors may whisper into the ears of the Top which may make him disparage the competent Manager with rude or offensive manner.
Employees fear to fact Top and hence, problems turn into lots of 'black-holes', which sucks in all remaining good if any to make situation more complex.
When situation becomes complex, Top usually put extensive pressure more on to the shoulder of those persons who are doing really good in this adverse environment since he can't rely on others to get things done. This may cause good employees to leave the company!
All these as listed from No.-1 to No.-16, create some kind of 'duality-complex' situation within Top him/herself and the exertion of such duality complex becomes apparent in terms of giving and executing decisions: s/he changes decisions a lot.
Top's words are bible! Nobody wants to change even it's wrong! In a 'One Man Show Company' Top's words are the policies i.e. depending on the mood policy can be changed at any time. In other words, it is comparable to 'no policy company'.
Nothing happens here unless it is forced by Top.
Such environment creates lots of operational problems and these problems may belong to many functional levels in a so tiny scale that it may not reach to the Top. Moreover, most of the times, employees by themselves don't want to put forward these issues since Top may engage him/her who forwarded the problem!
The psychology and principles of Top create way of doing things within his/her organizational periphery which leads to an organizational culture due to the practice for a long time. All these create such a vicious cycle of operational inefficiency that leads to the decay of learning and development, structured planning and implementation, long term strategic move, cultural and environment and so on.
Last not the least, Mr. Daniel Ally comes again,
"If you want to have a great organization, you must become a great person."
This article unintentionally got a bit longer. In some future article we may discuss on How to examine such cultural context before joining a 'One Man Show' company? Until then be happy! :) and question yourself whether you would join such a company?
Writer: Mr. A. Bhuiyan, Experienced Change Management Professional
To reach to the writer email: email@example.com
Pic credit: http://www.marilynstowe.co.uk
Editions: 2nd on 9th December 2017; 3rd on 12th December 2017; 4th on 14th December