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Cinderella in Todays Corporate World by Joan Marques

Cinderella in Today's Corporate World by Joan Marques

It was still early in the morning when Cinderella put on her single glass slipper. Today promised to be a hectic one in more than one means. Her assistant, Snow-white, who was also one of her best friends, was about to get married to Prince Long-Gone, and there was still so much to do! Ordering flowers and inspecting the reception hall were the two tasks that Cinderella had taken on to fulfill. Yet, these chores would have to wait until her lunch break, thought Cindy, as her friends used to call her, for today was a busy day at work as well!

Today would be the official merging of Pumpkin, Inc., the company where Cindy worked, and the prestigious Coach, Inc. from the famous Marquis of Carabas. Two weddings on one day, Cindy pondered, staring at her bare foot and wondering if the big day would ever arrive for her. A few months ago she lost her other glass slipper at an upscale garden party when she fled from the arms of a mysterious stranger, panicked by her own overwhelming feelings. Yet, even then she knew that for her there would be no other after having danced with this man who managed to steal her heart in one single night.

Cindy forced her thoughts back to her work. A merge is never easy, she thought. You have to get used to so many changing work circumstances: two entirely different company cultures are melting together, and just like an organ transplant, there can be rejection, which will cause the merge to fail. Cindy shook her head. In her position as director of Human Resources, she had mentioned it so often: Never confront people with an accomplished fact if you want their cooperation. Give them a part to play! No one likes it to be thrown in the water if there is a chance to be forewarned and wear a swimming suit. Right?

Oh well, Little Red Riding Hood, her other best friend, who was vice President of Pumpkin, Inc., didnt see the essence of communicating this point of view to the President of either one of the two merging companies. Hoody, as they all called her, was rather lax in that regard. Sometimes Cindy secretly wondered if under that pretty red hood her friend was hiding any brains at all, or if other forces might have been responsible for her current prominent position in the company!

Nevertheless, today was a big day! Cinderella was now fully dressed and made up, and hurried to the office, where she found the Human Resource department in a tumultuous state. It seemed that as of today a new President had been assigned for the merged company, Pumpkin-Coach, Inc, and her name did not promise too much progress: Sleeping Beauty! It turned out that both old Presidents had accepted an early retirement deal from the owner, the Marquis, in order to facilitate this new position.

The telephone was ringing off the hook, and Cindy saw that she had 20 messages waiting from department heads and other colleagues who wanted to fire questions regarding this total surprise. Cindy considered it to be rather awkward having to admit that she, the director or Human resources, had not been aware of this sudden decision either. She would calm down the fiery feelings, but she would not take the blame for a mistake that she did not make. But first she needed to find out what Hoodys role had been in this.

On a high slipper and a bare foot she paraded to Hoodys office across the hall, and found her friend in a mild state of panic. I dont understand these sudden, inconsiderate actions, Hoody cried out, You know, I did have a feeling that they would let old Hans (the president) go, but I really thought that I would be the person to fill the vacancy. But the Marquis just gives his orders left and right from a safe distance and no one has really seen him yet. Unless we believe the wild stories about the ever booted Kathy. Shes been walking around lately as if she just emptied a pot of milk. The gossip even goes that she and the Marquis are lovers! It wont surprise me one bit with her reputation!

Cinderella wisely held her tongue about the reputation issue. This was obviously not the moment to tell Hoody that, when it came down to reputations, she did not deserve a hood but a crown. Besides, Cindy knew better. She had a good relationship with most employees of Pumpkin, Inc. and she was aware of the reason for Kathys recent cheerfulness: she got engaged to John Wolff, the most desired bachelor in the home affairs department.

Cinderella calmed Hoodys mood as well as she could and decided to do whatever was in her power to lead this tumultuous situation into calmer waters. She called together an emergency meeting for all department heads. She knew they were all present today due to the merge. And indeed: at 11 a.m. they all entered the big conference hall: fifteen department heads, all marked with worried expressions on their faces.

Cindy had rapidly done her homework in the hour prior to the meeting: she had designed an agenda, outlining a session that would last no longer than an hour. She had asked Alice, her secretary, to order a large box of pastry from bakery Wonderland across the street. She also instructed Alice to hand out the now neatly printed agenda to all department heads at the entrance of the conference hall.

While Alice passed the pastries, Cindy welcomed the department heads, thanked them for their prompt availability, and immediately started the meeting. She apologized for the fact that no one was informed about the assignment of this new president. She admitted not having been aware of this decision either, but she immediately explained also that in turbulent transition times like these, unanticipated changes could occur. Therefore she asked for their understanding and their willingness to present the news about the new president in a dignified way to their personnel. She asked the department heads to remain calm, continue performing to their optimal level and show their professional side, and to refrain from making the mistakes they saw others making.

Cinderella could afford to be short and sweet with her instructions here, as she had given these advices many times before. All department heads knew what she was talking about. In the five years that she had performed as HR director, Cindy had made herself a real personage in the organization, due to her friendliness, open and frequent communication, and her availability. She had always informed every department head about changes that were about to happen, had met with them regularly to exchange ideas, and had involved them steadily in all matters that were important to their department.

This attitude of ownership and involvement was now her free-ticket to creating goodwill and a positive attitude in all sections. The merge would succeed if it were up to Pumpkin, Inc. The employees were motivated. And regarding working together with people from Coach, Inc., the Pumpkin family would provide whatever was in their power to make it thrive: involvement, understanding, and warmth. And believe in a good outcome.

The large clock in the inner court started the first of twelve hits when Cinderella thanked the department heads and declared the meeting to be ended. Everyone left the hall with much less concerned expressions, and Cindy was getting ready to leave as well, thinking of all the chores she still had to do for Snow-whites wedding. But then the door of the immense President-office swung open, and appeared the most handsome stranger Cindy had ever seen. If this was not the man out of whose arms she fled a few months ago! Her heart pounded in her throat while she studied him: from his tall, well-proportioned body and straight posture, to the breathtaking contrast that his jet-black hair formed with his deep blue eyes.

But even more spectacular than his appearance was the slipper he held in his right hand. Slowly he walked to Cinderella, kneeled before her, took her bare foot in his hand, and slid the slipper to it. It fit perfectly, of course. The handsome stranger got up, took Cindys hand, lightly brushed his lips over the back of it, and introduced himself asthe Marquis of Carabas! Cindy was speechless. But the Marquis was not. He complimented her for her outstanding way of handling the situation with the department heads and told her he had heard and seen everything on a screen in the President-office.

The Marquis told Cindy that he had heard in the hallways how highly everyone spoke about her, and that he realized he had much to learn from her. He therefore offered her a job as his mentor for life. And Cindy accepted. Did you expect anything else?

Burbank, California; June 20, 2003; Joan Marques, MBA,

About the Author:

Joan Marques, holds an MBA, is a doctoral candidate in Organizational Leadership, and a university instructor in Business and Management in Burbank, California. You may visit her web site at www.joanmarques.com

You have permission to publish this article free of charge either electronically or in print, as long as the bylines are included. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated.


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