Fridays have always been an exciting day for me all my life as it was movie release days & I promptly used to Queue up. For the last 10 years, however, there is one more dimension that has made it exciting as I’m mostly on a flight heading home after a working travel week. But, there is one of the dampening factor – the long queues at airports. This Friday when I Queued up at KL international airport the Queue had me thinking about “Organization Q”. I’m not sure how this can been defined but I will try my best knowing that I don’t have to try too hard as it is far too old and won’t sound novel at all after five minutes from now.
Ok, flashback time! I was in middle of an annual summit which saw our Middle East chief speaking of opportunities in GCC Countries. He wanted my peer group to have exposure to these countries and asked if any of us were interested to do short term assignments there. I promptly raised my hand and showed interest. Soon after the break, our CEO took over and he asked one of my peers Vishwas to make a trip to Middle East. I was perplexed as Vishwas had not even offered himself as a prospect. I immediately sensed that I was “missing out on something” as Vishwas was not the kind of guy who fixes things offline. Vishwas was my peer and about two years senior to me in the organization. It did not ring a bell; no one told me why I was royally ignored on that day.
My realization came few years later when I my role changed and was about to enter the board room. Along with me I saw two of my other colleagues being inducted. Their roles had not changed and it seemed that they couldn’t be left out due to my inclusion. I asked my HRD if that was the case. He affirmed it by saying that it would be safer to have three together as they were also senior to me in tenure. That’s the first time I coined the term Organization Queue (which till then I had only experienced for Amitabh Bachchan’s first days shows pre-internet era). I felt less appreciative of my inclusion onto the board and I’m sure the other two must have felt too for the opposite reason.
How does one spot Organization Qs? Well I deduce it based on the following; most new posts/projects given to people who have tenure; promotions mostly given to loyalists than competent newbies; breaking news going out to a few subordinates first and superiors in meetings prompting to some tenured people to respond or consulting them out of turn. I frequently encounter this Q claims in many career discussions. Many of my friends and colleagues talk to me about how they have been waiting for promotions, etc. and somebody else came and took it away – in short, there were always people “seemingly” ahead in the Q and their (the less fortunate) chance might never come.
The culture of Q in any organization will be devastating for high performers as they will eventually find ways leave the organization; an organization runs the risk of accumulating loyalists over top talent; the Q will also make competent people in the rank wait longer rendering them unproductive in the period. The solution lies in organizations demonstrating swifter career movements based on performance, critical experience, competency, and potential.
At an individual level, the Q can be self-consuming leading to unfair expectations from the organization from people who believe are entitled to the same. I was once inducting new team members in one of my assignments. A senior colleague who was a tenured quit. He mentioned in his exit interview that too many new faces made him feel that his tenure may not be suitably rewarded in days to come. People assume ‘Q’ however unarticulated the Q is within an organization”
And the unfortunate news is queues in organizations exist – whether you like it or not! I prefer a Q where there is none before and after me!