Dear Bob ...
I work in a company that was recently acquired. As background, the acquiring company was much bigger; ours was more profitable and growing more quickly.
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The CEO is trying to integrate the two companies. Instead of just imposing the acquiring company's way of doing things on us, he has recognized we must be doing some things better. His first step was to ask those in charge of parallel responsibilities to pool their knowledge to define "company best practices" in each area.
It is, by the way, something of a back-burner assignment -- to his credit, the CEO understands we're all stretched pretty thin already, and this is just one more thing to do.
I'm supposed to work on this. One problem: A few years ago, in another company, I had to terminate my mothership counterpart (call her "Shirley") for incurable incompetence. To say she bears a grudge is something of an understatement. The last thing on her mind is collaboration.
Our typical interaction goes something like this: I'll suggest something. She'll respond by explaining that this isn't how they do things. I'll remind her we're supposed to figure out better ways of doing things. She'll explain her way is best (without explaining why her way is best) -- so we make no progress.
I've informed my manager of the situation. He has tried to engage his counterpart across the organizational divide, but without success. Apparently, the corporate style over there is "leave us alone."
My manager has also told me that Shirley isn't the only example of the mothership having hired substandard performers. It appears the style there is to shop for bargains when it comes to hiring. While my situation is more extreme than most, I'm not the only person having trouble carrying out the assignment.
Any thoughts on how to handle this?
- Haunted by the past
Dear Haunted ...
If it was just you and Shirley, I'd say your manager should join you for several working sessions to facilitate things, inviting Shirley's manager to participate as well -- but not insisting on it if he/she declines. I also might suggest you try a heart-to-heart conversation with Shirley. This combination can sometimes work to start creating the habit of collaboration.