Finders, Minders and Grinders By Margaret Casely-Hayford


This is a blog from Margaret one of our judges on the Women in Business Awards.

My daughter is about to start up her own PR company; and more power to her! She has surprised her Father and me with her energy, passion, dedication and pure delight in support and promotion of clients, colleagues and friends during the time that she’s worked for others; and is doing a good job in convincing us that she deserves to succeed.

To help her with decisions about the types of people she should seek to work with, I found myself explaining the phrase ‘Finders, Minders and Grinders’ which I often heard used to described various members of teams when I worked as a partner in a law firm in the City – and probably still is. Although it sounds pejoratively dismissive – it has its use!

Clearly, every business needs all three to succeed. Simply put the Finders are the entrepreneurs who seek and create new opportunities, attract new clients and new business; Minders are the trustworthy first lieutenants who look after the clients and oversee the third category: the solid workers who might be described as the Grinders – the proviso being that this latter should not be considered to be any more of a pejorative term than any of the other categories! I explained that all three are extremely valuable to a business and are totally complementary to one another.

After all, there is no point in being a fantastic rainmaker – brilliant at finding new business if there is no-one back at base on whom you can rely to look after clients or on whom the clients can depend; someone that the clients feel they can trust if you aren’t around. By the same token one would lose business pretty quickly if new clients who reasonably expect deadlines to be met found that there was no-one who could actually work efficiently to deliver the product or service day after day.

In outlining the merits of the three categories of ‘worker bee’ I elaborated the construct to my daughter by describing the working styles of various of our friends and family so that she could see examples in action and how people working in the different categories were mutually supportive. She astutely pointed out that there were those who considered that they had the ability to work in all three areas at once and that this could cause mayhem if they didn’t choose only one, or at best two as their area(s) of focus. (I’m afraid she put me in this category!)

We therefore, both agreed that Finders should avoid micro managing and should learn to trust and delegate wherever possible so that the Grinders, in particular, feel empowered rather than demoralised; and so that the Minders could themselves effectively eventually grow into Finders – and not least because the original Finders will not be around for ever – but the business should have the strength and structure to continue without them. This is particularly important these days when a brand can so easily be built around one person.

Perhaps the Finder par excellence is Richard Branson, who encourages and trusts other entrepreneurs like the talented Matthew Bucknall (founding CEO of Virgin Active) to establish their own position as Finders and Minders, then to amass their own team of Minders and Grinders.

It always therefore  made me smile that William Morris, the famous Arts and Crafts designer who made a virtue out of really understanding and maximising the value of skilled labour after a period of frustration felt he had to strike out on his own because the architect for whom he worked : G.E.Street. the creator of the magnificent Law Courts building, (which stands at the gateway to the City in London’s Strand), insisted on micro managing to a fault: Street would even design the door knobs and hinges! Morris, who could have been the most fabulously reliable ‘Minder’ went off and created his own history.

In fact Morris went on successfully to set up and establish a brand and Street – though very successful, eventually suffered a breakdown and his son took over the business, but (presumably not having been trained to move from grinding to minding or from there to finding) was much less successful.  Street today is known as a genius architect, who has come and gone; but the  ‘William Morris’ brand successfully lives on.  That’s a useful lesson to any of us starting out or intending to, or actually running our own business.