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Posted on: Friday, 30 April 2010 by Rajiv Popat

Multiplitaxion Inc, had multiple offices around the world. When the news of a particular office-head in a different city resigning came in, I shrugged. My life was not even touched by the news and I could not have cared less.

When the news of a new office head getting hired within a month of the older one leaving came in I shrugged again. I couldn't have cared less again.

When the tales of the new branch-head who for the purposes of this post, we shall refer to as Fred, taking charge started coming in I wanted to shrug again and get on with my life, but then, these tales were, for lack of a better word, spicy and interesting. So I didn't shrug.

To be honest, I mostly behaved like like a young college going teenage girl, who finds pleasure in the hottest gossip in town. With my ears pressed hard on the source that was brining us the hottest news about this new branch head of one of our branches, we had found a source of free entertainment. Our ears were wide open for every new tit-bit of information about this new branch-head and what he did today.

Its called learning what not to do in management by watching other people f@#ckup. This new branch-head of a small office based in a small town had a small problem. From the very day he joined office, he realized that there were things that he had to change and he went all out to make these changes.

New rules were formed. New policies came into existence over night. We felt sorry for the folks working in this particular office and at the same time had hilarious laughs when we first heard the rule that you were not supposed to listen to songs, even on headphones, inside office because that was considered using of company time for your own personal use.

The guy was making a new rule or policy every couple of weeks. He truly believed that he was shaping an office into discipline and order both of which he believed had been neglected by the older branch-head.

From these series of dramatic episodes in one of our branch offices, we learnt as much as a fresh management book would have taught us. But then, of all the things that this set of dramatic episodes taught us, one of the most important things I personally learnt was something that most folks learn when they have their first breakup during their teens.

Now, if you have had a bad breakup in your life you probably know this already. If you had a breakup that was so bad that you actually had to seek advice from a close friend or a shrink, this is probably the advice they gave you too, but I am going to give it you again.

Ready for the super-breakup-tip? Huh? Huh? Huh?

Wait. It. Out.

That's right. The times following your breakup are usually very risky for getting into another friendship or relationship. That's the time when you usually end up picking the worst of partners. Which is why when you have a bad breakup, anyone with a sensible mind will tell you to stop looking for someone and to wait it out. Be single for a couple of years. Live life. Focus on your hobbies. Do things you always wanted to do. Have fun. Don't rush into another relationship.

You know what? Now, as it turns out, if you happen to run an organization, this rule also applies to you. When the best of your organization leaves, you usually see the Human Resource department swimming through resumes and getting back to work so that they can hire you what they call - quality resources - to replace the ones who are leaving. All I have is two words, which describe this exercise rather appropriately:

Bad Management.

That's right. Looking for 'quality resources' when the best folks in your team start leaving is just about the stupidest thing that you can do. It's like looking for the best girl you can find when your girl friend breaks up with you. Newsflash. It doesn't need a rocket scientist to tell you that you are going to make some really stupid mistakes.

Yet, this is exactly the mistake Multiplitaxion Inc made when they went out looking for a new branch-head and hired Fred.

What Multiplitaxion Inc, should have done, was simple. They should have 'waited it out'. They should have seen to see if someone in house steps up to take the responsibility. Waited to see if the office really needed a so-called-head to run it properly. They should have waited to see if the smart team that they had hand picked after countless rounds of interviews would step-up and take the responsibility.

And then if they really needed a 'branch-head' they should have sat tight and waited till they found the right person. Instead, they decided to replace the old branch-head with Fred as quickly as  they could and triggered a series of dramatic episodes which were no better than confusing painful relationships that folks often get into after a breakup.

As for Fred, he practically f@#cked up the entire branch in the short one year during which he headed it and then ended up getting fired.

Now, years later, every time I get a couple of resignations on my team and people come up to me all worked up and worried, asking me what we are going to do, asking me what our 'hiring strategy' is going to be or how we are going to replace the 'quality resources' that just left us, I smile.

Then I tell them that I don't like the idea of getting into a relationship immediately after a breakup and I tell them that we are just going to wait-it-out for a couple of months and see what happens.

Maybe someone from the team will step up. Maybe, we will realize that the person leaving wasn't all that critical after all. Maybe we will not need a replacement. Maybe we will. But then we have time on our side and its better to wait it out and make a calm decision rather than rushing to make a stupid hiring mistake that you end up regretting for months.

The next time the best programmer in your team or your alpha-geek resigns and others walk up to you asking you what your hiring strategy is going to be, go ahead, ask them if they ever had a breakup and what was the advice their friends, family or shrink gave them after the breakup?

Wait. It. Out.

Observe what happens.

Things have a strange way of working themselves out.

I wish you good luck.