Saturday, March 1, 2008

Evolution Story - Power of Need

The team that I inherited have many things in common - long time bonds of 3+ years with same company and almost all Maharashtrians. This would be the most ideal suited team for any manager - consistent performance, all good proven horses for longer races, great comfort factor and synergies within members, solid back up without expressing authority - What more could I ask for?

Isn't it the dream team that a manager would like who can spend time focussing on tasks at hand rather than work on individuals to ensure bonding and manage expectations and attrition which take time away from productive work ?

When such teams exist and you are new and want few tuning to be done for newer business needs, one long lesson I learnt after 1 year is to make the change a compulsion not through brute force or management decision but bring in the Need.

Case in Point: Because of the close knit nature, business was done as usual in tea breaks and regional language "talks" in canteen and numerous informal means. What this means to a manager is to be careful in bringing in fresh talent in the team and yet maintain the team spirit. Further with business expansion on the cards, there is always the lurking danger that the team will travel to various locations and still the "camaraderie" needs to be present from distance.

These required tapping the formal communication channels and utilizing them effectively. Making sure that formal communication means are practiced in a safe closed environment and improved, while informal channels will still act as life support system till the protocols and understanding is in place.

However, this realization seemed more compulsive only to me to ensure change happens and it happens fast. But moving from "comfort" zone of a well entrenched team (not just one but many) is a typical "new manager syndrome. It is tedious, pisses off most people and some consider it to be a case of "false alarm" or pressing the "panic button" too early.

The change happened recently when we were in fire fighting mode and the blame game started in a project. THe same project has panned many blog titles in last month :). The team members in the hidden firing line ( behind me), as if by magic were writing and sustaining themselves against the onslaught through carefully drafted emails, status updates, clearing the intent and scope of deliveries, making sure that "HELP" is duly recognized explicitly, telephonic talks, reference to discussions and surprisingly not wanting my interference.

The stress and strain of the entire episode led me to know the power of need and now our team have a couple of members who can be marketed on their own. I still have to work on the remaining team.

Can you help me with "NEEDS" you "CREATED" for change management?

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