Partner in Crime

As a former HR executive, when I arrived at a new organization, one of the first people I sought was a ‘partner in crime’.  At least that is how I think about it.  As an inveterate change agent, I was always working on some element of the culture that needed to shift to prepare the organization for the future.  So I began to seek out people who intuitively understood the change we were seeking to make.

Who did I look for?  Someone who has credibility with employees, the courage to support a new initiative, articulate enough to discuss what they were doing and had the integrity to focus on the change itself – without expressly worrying about how it will affect them politically.  I then solicited their help as my ‘partner in crime’ for the guerilla warfare we were about to engage.

We hear so much about finding mentors, coaches, great bosses and other supportive people to work with us in both our jobs and lives.  Those people are also critical to the success of any change initiative.  However, the first person on board was not to help me strategize the change or to assist me emotionally in the process of change, it was someone who would quietly begin work on the change itself.

If the organization needs to retain people through more flexible staffing patterns – I found a ‘partner’ who agreed that this will help retention and who worked intuitively or with guidance to figure out how to manage and support a staff member who had a different working arrangement.  If we needed to bring more diversity to the organization – I sought a manager who may have lived in a different culture and could figure out how to build a team that was not homogeneous.  If new technology was critical to our success, I found someone who loved the new, wasn’t afraid to experiment and could articulate their success to others.

Finally, I got explicit about these arrangements and explained why we saw the need for a ‘partner’ and the role of the partner in this process.  The primary role was to pilot the change, demonstrate the success this change can bring and realistically articulate the management of change to others.  I wanted change to be successful in the field, not something that HR brought to the table.   A partner in crime.  The crime of doing something that does not fit the old unwritten rule – but instead blazes a new trail in this organization.

So, in your new endeavor, what is your ‘crime’, what trail are you blazing, and who is your partner?


Yes! You may use this article by HR Consultant & Executive Coach, Ronnie Grabon, in your blog, newsletter or website as long as you include the following bio box:

Ronnie Grabon, SPHR, received her BA and MBA from Rutgers University. she is an Executive Coach and HR Consultant for companies and individuals undergoing transition.  After 30 years in corporate work, she recently completed her own transition by serving as VP of HR for a company undergoing bankruptcy and liquidation.  Over the last ten years. Ronnie has coached more than 500 people at the Center for Creative Leadership, as well as consulting with individuals, businesses and non-profits.  Ronnie can be reached at or by phone at 336-706-1621.  Ronnie’s coaching profile can be found at

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