- Mike Davin - former CEO and President of VAST,
“Lucie Shiff was the US HR Integration Manager when Voest Alpine Services & Technologies, LLC. (VAST) was acquired by Siemens and integrated into Siemens Energy & Automation in the US in 2005. Since VAST was a mechanical service company and Siemens is known as an electrical mega company, there was much concern regarding a successful integration. Not only were our disciplines different but VAST consisted mainly of blue collar workers with some union affiliations disseminated across twelve locations: a difficult undertaking indeed.
The key to the successful integration was Lucie’s ability to quickly grasp knowledge of the main drivers of the VAST business. She focused on communication with both management and the work force. Her experience with organized labor was paramount to achieving union buy in. Lucie’s professional manner enabled the objectives of the integration to be achieved while maintaining the good will of both parties for post integration success. As the President of VAST, I worked shoulder to shoulder with Lucie during and after the integration through 2009. Without reservation, I would work with Lucie again and would recommend her to any company in need of her HR Consulting services, particularly where a Merger, Acquisition or Divestiture Change initiative is needed.
About our philosophies:
. Constructive Conflict
Possibly my #1 Passion and possibly the biggest cause for disconnects and frustration is lack of Constructive Conflict. It is positively not acceptable to shy away from good constructive dialogue in favor of taking the high road and desire to weigh being politically correct over having the needed hard discussion. How many meetings have you spent time in where people come out and say that they did not agree but did not want to say anything so that nothing got done.
. Candor: No BS
We owe it to ourselves and others to be candid, tactful but candid. Terminating someone or demoting them without having been candid with them is cruel. It may be easier for the “bearer of bad news” to skip the discussion but do not use euphemisms where candor is needed. It is unfair and representative of inadequate leadership.
. Managerial Courage
An area I continuously highlight. Ideally, an atmosphere needs to exist where people feel they can have the courage to raise issues without fear of reprisal. A true leader will say what needs to be said and not mask the issues.
. Substance Over Form
We all need and use Power Point but we should not spend an inordinate amount of time on graphics and layout and prioritize that over the meaning and content nor should we judge a presenter solely on how “pretty” the presentation is. Success should be determined on what we learned and retained at the end of the presentation.
. Performance over Politics
Performance and results need to remain critical. Clearly Politics play a role and people may be unable to perform due to inadequate political savvy. However, a nice, cheerful, non-argumentative person who never rocks the boat but fails to get results is not the answer. There must be a balance. Rewarding for behavior only without regard for results will cripple a business.
. Understanding Altruism and the Need for WIIFM
Understanding that, in the end, people must know what is in it for them. Until people feel secure, they will be unable to totally engage and commit.
. Balance Between Execution and Strategy
If treated as mutually exclusive, failure is a guarantee. An organization cannot exist with only Strategists who do not execute. Nor can it flourish with people that can only execute if there is not a Vision and Strategy.
. Program of the Month
How much time is wasted and productivity squandered on Programs that do not really have substance, are not part of a Strategy and have no quantifiable Goal? Just think of the T-shirts in your closet with the “Program of the Month” written on it!!
. Stepford Behavior AKA The Emperor’s New Clothes
This is when employees are encouraged to only say what management wants to hear and not give real input, only lip service. There is no real foundation but on the surface, it is all smooth sailing: the “Emperor” hears only what he wants to hear and no one will tell him he is wearing no clothes.
. Buzzword abuse AKA Acronymn-itis
How often do you feel like acronyms have replaced language and we actually are living in a world with “Text” language? The worst is that many Acronyms cover multiple meanings; ie STD is Short Term Disability to many but to others, it is a Sexually Transmitted Disease and to others yet it is Secondary/Succession Talent Development. You can imagine someone hearing the term and having to try to determine what the speaker really means to say.
. Buzz Words
Yes, Collaboration, Communication, Synergy, Teaming, Paradigm Shifts, Employee Engagement, Brainstorming, Change Management and Catalyst are all good but are we overusing words in place of actions? You cannot tell people that they will be collaborative if there are no actions to support the behavior. You cannot write a plethora of written communications if people fail to communicate one on one or walk like they talk.
Of course, meetings are an essential part of life but how many have you attended that are longer than necessary and not facilitated? These meetings can be jam packed with no real accountability assigned.
. Toxic Leadership: The Survivor Mentality
Probably the most pernicious form of “control” is to create fear and have people paralyzed by living in a real world “Survivor”. If truly toxic, the “leader” polarizes the group, becomes personal and breaks down the employee’s confidence and renders them ineffective while pitting everyone against each other.
. Overuse of Flow Charts
We all use them and all need them but not to the extreme they are used. When Flow Charts replace dialogue and communication, there is a problem. The movie “Up in the Air” did an excellent job of depicting the naiveté of the ambitious early career professional who thinks the use of flow charts can solve efficiency issues and replace real management and communication.
. Using “Compliance” inappropriately
Yes, we are all very sensitive, and rightly so, to Ethics and Compliance. However, do not use the “little guy” as an example that you are tough on Compliance while the big fish go free. Employees see right through this ruse and simply give lip service as opposed to changing their behavior.