Teams that make companies

Five decades ago a chemical company established its manufacturing unit on a land that was once a graveyard on the outskirts of a industrial city in western part of India.

Manufacture of chemicals was considered a hazardous profession during those time when the industry leaders had just started talking about safety with no serious intentions.

There were very few Engineering college seats all run by government grants. So the few chemical engineering graduates would make a beeline for placement at one of the three large PSUs established on the outskirts of the city with facility to stay in the company colony.

So the company had few choices from shifting technicians from other group units or hire available talent. A B.Sc. was good enough to become plant supervisor and B.A will do for sales, Rest of the workforce comprised of local villagers  commanded by a trusted Administrator.

By blending family based culture and professionalism the company could create a sense of ownership amongst each of the employee/worker which helped it to not only become a pioneer in manufacture of import substitutes but with safe industrial practices unheard of in those times.

After about two decades of inception the company having established a name for itself , came out with an public issue and offered ESOP to every employee, again a first in Indian Chemical Industry.

For several years the company continued to scale milestones and groomed finest talents, some raw stones fashioned into gems, and it served as a beacon light for several returning professionals.

Now, five decades down. Another company. A leading lifestyle brand opens new business division in the bay area on landfill which used to be the city’s dump yard. The size and nature of business is the first of its kind since the closure of some leading brands who operated on the same business model.

Unlike the Indian company, this U.S. company is (over?)confident of hiring talent in abundance for their grand opening. Reality bites in term of the jobs available in the silicon valley. Not many turn up for the hiring, those who do, some of them don’t join and some leave after.

The analogy we can draw here is that bot the companies had to do with available talent to start their venture and scale it up to a remarkable success level.

Analysis would reveal that the most significant contributing factor in both the cases has been the team that performed. These were an average bunch of guys and gals who had a point to prove – to themselves and to the world.

Why did the outside world didn’t consider them good enough ?                            Good enough to be a manufacturing head or a sales lead? Good enough to seek a position of repute and earning to financially support his family? Or was it not good  enough to impress that goddamn recruiting officer?

A question arises about the ability of recruiters to identify, hire and retain talent . But a HR person who has found employment on professionally, paid, structured resume can be expected to deliver even less. So let’s talk about how an organization can attract and retain talent.

Obviously the company needs to market itself. The best time to do so is when your company is on a success trial, tell everyone about how good you are doing. The more people talk about you the more talent antennas will spring out and they will swarm you hiring events. There is a mutually satisfying need and mostly hiring takes place on “who blinks first” model.

So now what about the guys who made this happen. You see some on deputations, some having glorified positions with un-glorified work. And some might just wean away. The company management has to look at the future , isn’t it?

There is new system which emerges. A bunch of suckers. Some are new but most were there all the while. Their job, to suck up to those in power. These are the non talented crafty individuals cling to the people at the top like a toilet plunger on the bathroom ceiling. The moment there space for them to land they do a summersault and stand upright on the floor making their presence felt to the newcomers.

A mutual desire to survive blends them to together, like a tumbleweed they bunch up to create independent power zones(lobby). It is the ratio of these bunches vs the real, intentional performers that determines the sustainability of the company. Companies having a strong cultural foundation will survive such transitional phase. Before ,during and after transition, company’s business take a parabolic curve . But the shape of the curve is determined by the ability of the company’s management to distinguish the well meaning loyalist and phony,flamboyant SUCKER!




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