From the Desk of Mike Fowler: Can You Wear Too Many Hats? A Message To Our Employees
By Mike Fowler, Iconic IT CEO
Since I was a kid, I have loved to wear hats. As I’ve gotten older and as I’ve become follically challenged, the hats serve two practical purpose: to keep my head warm in the winter, and to prevent sunburn in the summer. I have dozens of hats, including one for each major city we have an office in. The one I wear the most is my Iconic IT hat.
In business, wearing multiple hats is a way to say we have several roles. The smaller the company, the more hats people wear. The owner of a small MSP might do sales, vCIO, technical writing, server installs and trash detail. As the company grows, we take off some of the hats and give them to others. At Iconic IT, we have Tony Miller wearing the VP of Operations hat as well as a General Manager hat. Sitima Fowler wears the VP of Marketing hat and a General Manager hat. It is not easy to switch back and forth between roles, but at least it’s clear to them that they are wearing multiple hats because they have multiple titles, too.
To standardize our services, we’ve defined new job titles and job descriptions. We’ve actually created more hats. IA, SA, vCIO, etc. We’ve done our best to move people into the role that best aligns with their skills and experience. For some, this may not have changed much. For others, it may be confusing and there are gaps. Some roles may not be adequately staffed.
In reality, many of you are wearing multiple hats. This is necessary to address those gaps and, as we grow, we will be able to put additional skills and resources into those roles and allow you to take off some of those hats. For now, it’s important to recognize these gaps, realize you have multiple hats to wear, and work with the right team to take care of the customer.
Since we are talking about hats, let me make to a few baseball analogies to help clarify my point.
- In baseball, the coach looks at the team’s skills and puts the players into a position. Your 3rd baseman may not be the best, but he’s the best you’ve got for that position so that’s where he starts… we will practice extra hard to improve his skills.
- Everyone has a position and responsibilities. We all agree that the first basemen’s role is to cover first base. But his first job is to field a ball hit at him. Well, that’s bad: who will cover first base? That’s easy… it’s the pitcher. That’s right, the pitcher must cover first base (even though his primary job is to pitch) because the first baseman was doing something else and could not cover first base. The key here is that we know there is a gap when the first baseman is fielding the ball, so the pitchers practice covering first base. Pitchers are not usually as good as the first baseman and will sometimes drop the ball, but we continue to practice to get better.
- The dreaded pop-fly… we’ve got 3 fielders chasing the ball, but just as they seem poised to crash into each other, they all stop and the ball hits the ground. This is where we might see some finger pointing (or at least a few harsh looks at each other). This is another area where you need to practice communication and working together. The more skilled and the better we communicate, the fewer times this will happen. But rest assured, it will happen to even the best teams.
In baseball, smart coaches over the decades have identified the gaps and put in plays to address them., but practice and communication is what turns execution into an instinct. It requires teamwork to make sure all the bases are covered.
The goal of a baseball team is to win the game. Our goal is to keep the customer satisfied. By identifying gaps, improving communication, and lots of practice, we can achieve that goal. It’s most important to recognize, as in baseball, we don’t actually wear different hats… We all wear the same hat. Wear it proud.
Thanks for all you do!