Article: Retaining the retainers: Keeping the Old Guard engaged and motivated


Retaining the retainers: Keeping the Old Guard engaged and motivated

Organizations effectively need to blend the old and new to power the engine of rapid growth and sustainability while scaling-up
Retaining the retainers: Keeping the Old Guard engaged and motivated

Successful companies identify and nurture talents of capable and trustworthy people through a number of structured and unstructured mechanisms


Managing organizational transformation is always a challenge particularly when the human resource basket of organizations has to undergo major changes to develop and maintain competitiveness. One big question then is regarding the productive role of the old guards in the new scheme of things. The question is ‘how can organizations effectively blend the old and new to power the engine of rapid growth and sustainability?’

Challenges of building a blended team

Organizations face several interconnected transitional challenges while making major changes in their teams to grow fast or respond to market opportunities. The existing team may be found inadequate in many ways, leading to recruitment of new team members. The result could be a vertical division of the senior management team. While the new team would find faults with the existing systems and processes, the old team would lament erosion in the organizational values and growing bureaucracy with the arrival of the new members. Seldom there is discussion and acceptance by both camps on the fact that excellent organizations need both systems and shared values for effective strategy implementation, and they need to work together to determine their best mix. Inadequate communication and a lack of preparation by the existing teams for any change also leaves the old guards feel threatened. And management often wakes up late to the realities of having a disjointed team. Similar scenarios crop up when new strategic investors enter.

How to address the challenges

Highly successful organizations support the need to have a conscious strategy to actively involve the old guards in strengthening the destiny of the organization. More than anything else, trust worthiness of people is a critical resource for any business. Trust is multi-dimensional: trust in keeping confidentiality, in personal integrity, in capabilities, and in commitment to continue to work for the organization. Such organizations invest in developing the capabilities of trusted people with potential. Lasting businesses across the world are aware that organizations are built by people and, structure, systems and processes are only facilitators. They believe in retaining talented old guards who remain as the pillars of the organization and identify and nurture talents of capable and trust worthy people through a number of structured and unstructured mechanisms including competency mapping and capacity enhancement.

Some of best practices followed by organizations are:

• Effective communication.

• Respecting old guards (sometimes publicly) who are true stewards and tap their wisdom to determine implications of specific decisions on the organization.

• Facilitating new learning opportunities; encouraging those interested to upgrade their skills.

• Rehabilitating those who cannot cope up in respectable ways.

Successful organizations recognize the need to retain committed and capable people who understand their DNAs and build on their existing strengths. For such organizations, trust-worthy old guards with potential are a critical resource to ensure continuity in most situations. Leaders of such organizations prepare the ground to minimize turbulence by recognizing the contribution of high quality old guards. Old or new, good is good to retain, is the mantra there!


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Topics: Leadership, #AQuestionofScale

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