It’s easy to start a post by
quoting Charles Dickens but if you ever wanted to experience the best of times and the worst of times all in one handy situation then find two organisations that are going through integration.
I was fortunate enough to experience it first hand a few years ago and was hired almost immediately post acquisition (this was not a merger) and what you quickly come to realise is that it’s a difficult situation from every perspective. The need to satisfy the conditions of the change (whether that be financial or performance) are complicated by the myriad of definitions that exist for various parties.
Not to mention the plans that are concrete on Monday and ancient history on Thursday meaning that even those closest to being the ‘enacters’ of the change being confused and fraught trying to manage what at times feels like a bucking bronco that’s just been kicked in the knackers.
Whilst not on the scale of pre-revolutionary Paris that Dickens describes there are definitely camps involved in integration and whether that be the enacters and the recievers, those staying and those going, those from one organisation or the other – the opportunities to take two high performing organisations and bring them to their knees exist everywhere.
The role of HR (in it’s various forms) during an integration is equally challenging. In the core operations you’ve got big decisions and big change to make around policy, payroll, terms, teams and budgets and once those decisions are made you’ve got to actually deliver the changes whilst not breaking the fragile organisation. From a broader cultural perspective you’ve got an entity that is rife with uncertainty, rumour and agendas and if there were ever a breeding ground for political behaviour and self preservation this is it in spades.
Trying to support and preserve performance whilst you are systematically reviewing the organisation is a test of even the most loyal, committed, high performing individual and the need to shape decisions and enact them whilst preserving both the organisation’s and your own integrity is a test for every practioner.
The hardest part of all? You can’t talk about any of it! Publically no details can be revealed and privately there are very few people either a) who know everything and b) will not take you to a place which is about them so maintaining your individual resilience becomes a greater challenge.
So apart from me reliving the angst of integration does this post have a purpose? Yes in fact it does!
Last week HR Magazine announced their shortlist for HR Director of the Year and it’s a cross industry group of the great and good and a few of the usual suspects have yet again been shortlisted. One of the Unusual Suspects to receive a nod is HR Blogger and general Agent Provocateur Neil Morrison, Group HRD at Random House the publisher currently integrating with Penguin to form a power house global publisher.
Neil like all good integrating HRD’s is tight lipped about the plans for the new organisation and it’s partly for that reason that I believe he is deserving of recognition for what must be a hurculean effort. Another reason is that he doesn’t lead a behemoth of an HR team packed to the rafters with big hitters but rather a small team (12) of people at varying stages of developing their careers in HR who clearly run a tight (if informal) ship.
A further reason is that Neil is one of us – he’s a blogger and a tweeter and from the submission on the site you can see his impact on social media within the organisation but more widely within the HR profession I think Neil has had significant impact on the profession’s engagement with all things social.
To spell out the final reason I will quote Richard Curtis articulated with aplomb by Simon Callow in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ when at yet another wedding he encourages his friends to “go forth and conjugate” as for once he would like to go to the wedding of someone he truly loves for a change. Please relax this is not some long hidden bromance finally coming to light, but once, just once I would like someone I know (and although I’d never tell him – respect) to win one of these awards if nothing more than an excuse for a big night out.
So in short VOTE NEil MOrrison (NeMo) and if you’re on Twitter #voteNeMo