Monday, September 07, 2015

The fragile bridge of corporate relationships

The CIO had spent almost 5 years in the position thriving and surviving all the uncertainties of business and change in management. He had done well to build a reputation with business leaders with his can do attitude and ideas helped them win in their playing field. Technology vendors loved him for the fact that he was willing to experiment and deploy emerging solutions with calculated risks that brought them further business. He took on additional business responsibilities which added to his experience of a score of years. Then suddenly he quit !

Everyone wondered what happened, some guessed what had happened, confidantes knew the reason behind the presumably sudden move. It was cooking for a while within; his outwardly calm disposition did not raise any suspicion of the turmoil within. For a large part of the year prior to taking the drastic step, he continued to live with a fa├žade which eventually impacted his persona. Something snapped inside, his professional pride hurt he found it difficult to continue. As soon as he had an option, he hastily exited inconsiderate of the adverse impact.

A difference of opinion, perceived gap in skills, and real lack of experience for a favorite project of a Board member left him in no man’s land despite industry experts willingness to back him. The project was thus separated from IT and a new peer position was on-boarded. As time passed by he found himself being marginalized in some of the discussions falling off the radar with attention largely focused on the favorite project. He continued to toil until the proposed change of reporting relationship (to his peer) became the proverbial last straw and he quit !

A post-mortem would throw up many advice on what he could have done to rescue the situation and bring himself back into relevance; that anyway belongs to lessons provided from the stands when the game is on. The cardinal mistake he made was to leave in a huff with scant regard to the impact his exit had on ongoing activities, tasks, and outcomes. Pleas to reconsider his decision and later to extend his notice period were ignored with ego prominently dictating the actions. With a small step the bridge built over the years was broken.

He took up the new assignment that had triggered his bold step only to find out that culturally he was unable to fit into the new organization; unable to accept the ethos, he left within weeks without notice. These steps did not go unnoticed in the industry and quietly seeped across through the network; while no one raised the question, peers were nice to him in a diffident way with warmth of the past missing. His requests for connects towards new openings and opportunities were accepted though none made any progress towards materialization.

Young professionals today tactically make career moves based on their need for gratification, personal gain and opportunities in the market. In the build phase of their foundations they flutter around before they find their bearings and settle down. In the mid-career stage relationships are built that help climb the corporate ladder and build credibility on the task and people axis. The persona thus created aids move to level of leadership from just managing people thereby connecting the dots and strengthening the bonds that can last a lifetime.

Courting period with an enterprise starts with best behavior; why does the exit need to be the worst ? If there is any bitterness towards the culture, environment, incident, team, people, anything that makes the blood pressure rise, let go as from the next day onwards they are not going to be part of daily life. It is unfortunate that some companies also behave like jilted lovers when someone senior decides to pursue alternative opportunities. The market quickly comes to terms and discounts reference checks with such companies.

The struggle of the protagonist with a few bad decisions impacted his ability to find an opportunity; when alternatives are plenty, prospective companies are not amenable to forego such indiscretions. What if he does not fit in here culturally ? What if there is really something wrong with him as a person ? Will he bad mouth us when he leaves ? There are many what-ifs that deter an opportunity. Bridges are expected to withstand a lot of stress and natural elements; bridges of relationships too require strength from within and resilience to survive incidents and external factors.

Take care !

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