All of us need to declutter our drawers. Consider you are using a screwdriver to fix something on the dressing table and once the mission is completed you park it in the drawer for the time being along with your grooming kits, reminding yourself to relocate it later and then you forget the follow-up action. 

Similar stuff happens to all of us every day. More often than not we never find that screwdriver and purchase a new one adding to the clutter. Park this analogy for the time being.

In the corporate world, over the years, an organisation goes through lots of changes including the shuffling of leaders, who come with different backgrounds and styles and hiring preferences, coupled with HRM’s (Human Resource Managers) with different strategies and philosophies and the organisation evolves with a set of individuals leading different functions. 

M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions) activities make it worse. A large population of employees must be adjusted in the roles available to retain talent. For the integration leaders and HR community, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle or a chessboard game at play.  I have been a witness to such movements in my years in large multinationals and have seen layoffs, mergers, and the integration of companies, leading to an evolution of the new order. Nothing wrong with that, just somewhere it leads to a dysfunctional team structure from a skills point of view. It’s easily justified by the HR community as multi-skilling and a role change for the good of the employees so that they get the benefit of experience in different departments and functions to develop a larger horizon. Which, in a way, is correct and good for the employees from an orientation perspective. 

What often finally emerges is an organisational set up with skill sets being compromised and an attempt to make square pegs fit in round holes. It goes unnoticed because the employee adjusts to the new job description and environment from a day to day work perspective, disregarding (helplessly)  real strengths where often the expertise lies. 

I have seen great engineers from the field working as sales support, engineers on desk jobs and business strategists deputed on process-driven positions which need no strategic thinking. All of these are not jobs that complement their skills. Most such professionals get entangled in the net of doing a job for the sake of earning a salary rather than doing a job that they are proficient at,  which gives them satisfaction and an edge due to their past expertise, experience or love for the job content. 

Rarely does  HRM reconsider a shuffling of resources to match what each one does best, by relocating people to their home ground where they can utilise their skill sets and experience to outperform and deliver to the priorities of the business with greater efficiency. Doing this can also enhance productivity, employee job satisfaction and energizing a workforce that is an asset rather than a burden. It will also have other benefits like a  reduction in job frustration and making employees look forward to coming to work. 

Empowering and delegation are also great tools to enhance employee engagement in business interests, as is offering stretch assignments to deserving candidates making their job expansion larger, providing them with positive challenges where they get an opportunity to showcase their mettle. It is needless to emphasise that at the same time ownership and accountability plays an important role. Once the employee can see the larger picture of business impact, he is able to make his own valuable contributions more consistently.  To facilitate this, one-to-one communication between the employee and the manager is a must, through numerous touchpoints periodically during the quarter, the emphasis being on effective communication rather than just a tick in the box. These sessions should be monitored by HRM and the one-on-one manager to ensure they yield and foster company loyalty and leave behind a feeling of self-worth.  

With this, I draw upon the analogy in the first paragraph of this article, find the lost screwdriver and place it in the toolbox where it’s best utilized!

“Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.” -Lee Iacocca