|Source: WSJ from AFC Enterprises|
My career strategy was to work like a dog. If there was water-cooler stuff going on, I didn’t participate. When the company [RJR Nabisco] was being acquired, I said, ‘I’ll worry about that when it’s done.’ So I became a VP at 30; while everyone else was wondering what was going to happen next, I actually did work, produced results and developed people. You can’t be a ‘Negative Nancy’ and create great things. I’ve watched mergers, acquisitions, breakups, sales, and all the lost productivity that comes with hallway conversation that does absolutely nothing for the company or your career. It’s just pointless.
Spot-on advice, if you ask me! Executives should take a lesson from this interview as well. Major strategic events such as mergers and acquisitions, create a ton of water cooler conversation. Firms experience a significant drop in productivity during these occasions. It's no wonder that many integration efforts prove problematic. Why does so much water cooler activity take place? Often people gripe and complain because of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. In the absence of information, they gossip, wonder, and worry. If there's an information vacuum, employees fill it! As a result, leaders need to share information proactively during these moments of uncertainty. They need to alleviate fear quickly, promote transparency, and get people focused on the key priorities ahead. If not, productivity will suffer.