Thursday, December 02, 2004

Team spirit and outsiderism

Today is my last day at a long-term, on-site contract - the nearest thing I've had to a 'real job' since 2001.

It's been wonderful feeling physically part of a team. It hasn't been complete - I work shorter hours than the others, and I knew from the outset my time would be limited. But being in an open plan office, sharing secrets, and supporting those under stress - even with a sympathetic look - is quite unknown in the independent contractor's life I am returning to.

It makes me wonder - if Daniel Pink is correct and more people will be consultants rather than full time employees, how will we get around this? More to the point, how will I get around this in my first few weeks of readjusting to being an outsider?

Of course, I won't be a complete outsider. I now have a link with the team I've been with. There's a rapport there that won't really change because I'm not in the building. But the day-to-day banter won't be there.

Perhaps that's why blogs have become big. It'd be interesting to see how many bloggers are independent consultants - or employed in a workplace without a strong team spirit.

Networking groups will also never die off; instead, they'll become more vital. But the forms networking groups take - for instance, Chamber of Commerce - may be endangered as a new generation of independent contractors finds the old ways and traditions stifling, unreal and irrelevant.

I think the whole concept of Urban Tribes - as put forward in Ethan Watters' book - will take off. Social groups that just 'happen', that may only have a mindset (rather than race, religion, occupation or social status) in common.

Or perhaps that's just utopian (remember, Utopia means 'nowhere'). After all, race, religion, occupation and social status do still play an important part in who we like to talk to and who we just can't understand. But I'm starting to digress.

Recapping: More independent contractors means more outsiders, leading to increased attempts at community-building like blogging, and innovative networking groups to appeal to a new generation of businesspeople (who don't identify themselves primarily as businesspeople).

And another thing I nearly forgot - a stronger emphasis on Emotional Intelligence. (Capitalised for the Eighteenth Century people Among Us.)


At 7:41 PM, Blogger Robyn said...

Kia ora Simon and friends,

Simon, I just got your electronic newsletter and was abruptly reminded that you sent me an invitation to join - so I did obviously. I have been an independent contractor for 14 years and moved to subcontracting other independent contractors who in turn sometimes sub-subcontract other independent contractors... one day Im going to get asked to sub-sub-sub-subcontract one of my own jobs!

What a wonderful life style - risky, unpredictable, exciting, rich one minute and in serious debt the next, forever challenging but not lonely - especially in Auckland where there is always a cafe to meet another contractor wanting a break and a chat and to share tips and tricks.

Anyway, why it took me so long to join this blog was after I received your invitation, I slipped a disk in my back, hit the deck, and that meant I studied the ceiling for a few weeks more than I really needed to. After reflecting on my life, my future and "leadership" I got so bloody bored that I decided to create a new business - another story ...

The most interesting part was that I was treated to insights about leadership in many forms. Two of my subcontractors took the initiative and took a couple of critical jobs, I rung every client and they all agreed to move deadlines and some even asked if I would like to be paid ahead of delivery, friends and some I had barely met came with food, supplies, took my children for well-deserved breaks, stayed over with us to help, walked my boisterous young dogs, and generally kept me out of mischief.

Today is my first day back on my computer working, yes new years eve and Im building my website for the new business - inspired by the leadership I was treated to over the past 6 weeks who helped me see that I needed to make a shift to more meaningful things.

Anyway, good to be here at last and I wish you all the best for the new year - nga mihi o te tau hou,


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