integration blues…

Agile_IntegrationMumbai Indians lost the match to Delhi Daredevils and I the bet and had to take a few friends out for a nice meal. A bunch of passionate people always makes for an animated conversation. While I have dealt with characteristics of “A” players earlier, this one was intense about qualities that make an employee desirable – and remarkable – in times of uncertainity and change.
We are living in an era of mergers and acquisitions. Market forces are leading to the formation and shaping of new organisations all the time. Some necessitated by a desire to grow and become bigger, others forced by an instinct to survive. Whatever be the reason, welcome to the new reality of business!
By an unusual stroke of occurence, I have found myself to be in the midst of a few such situations. While the stated objective of every integration is addition to revenue and profit, experience suggests that mergers are usually all about people. Softer employee issues determine the success of the outcome rather than pure play product extensions and other associated market capture opportunities.
The reason is obvious. Combining workforce often means eliminating overlaps and irrespective of the seniority or track record, employees get nervous and anxious about their own future. Corridor and cooler conversations acquire a whole new meaning and speculation – largely baseless and unproductive – becomes the norm. Wouldn’t it be a pleasure to have some terrific, remarkable people around you with qualities that may not appear on performance appraisals but have a major impact on performance. Let me elaborate a few :
– ability to work in ambiguity – they ignore job descriptions, display flexibility. While one can be totally straight jacketed in approach, desired are employees that can think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.
– speak when others won’t – An employee once asked me a question about potential layoffs. After the meeting I said to him, “why did you ask about that, you already know what’s going on.” He said, “I do, but a lot of other people don’t and are afraid to ask. I thought it would help if they heard the answer from you.”
Some employees are hesitant to speak up in meetings. Some are even hesitant to speak up privately. Remarkable employees have an innate feel for the issues and concerns of those around them and step up to ask questions or raise important issues when others hesitate.
– display a sense of urgency – being action oriented is perhaps the biggest antidote to anxiety. Such employees take initiatives and act rather than wait for things to happen to them. Don’t look for divine intervention or directions from superiors all the time – that won’t happen. Just decide and keep moving forward!
– publicly praise, privately complain – praise from a peer feels awesome, especially when you look up to that person. Remarkable employees recognize the contributions of others in group settings where the impact of their words is even greater. They are sensitive to the fact that problems are better handled in private. So even though their performance gives them the latitude to raise controversial issues in a group, they refrain.
– just hang in there – you can exercise little control in such situations. The fact that uncertainity does not persist for long is well understood by them. So just put your heads down, avoid too much gossip and stay focused on the task at hand.
You can visualise these to be a wide range of easily defined but hard to find qualities. I am certain there are many more and you should add and contribute through your comments. My personal experience has made me realise the virtues of the above 5 – almost a sure shot way to managing effectively during such times.
happy reading!