Integrators are essential for any business since the rapid advances of technology and science and hybrid work models are changing the rules of the game. With all these things going on all at once, it is necessary to optimize differentiation by integrating all functions of a business.
What Is an Integrator?
Integrators are people tasked with achieving differentiation and integration simultaneously. They must possess a number of skills, notably decision making, team management skills, situational leadership, contribution skills, workload management skills, performance assessment skills, and business and data analysis skills.
To be able to do this, integrators develop strategies and execute ideas aiming at achieving unity among all experts in a business. They must be capable of handling unpredicted problems that tend to arise among the traditional functions simply because everyone is doing their job.
The solutions integrators facilitate don’t only target major issues. Rather, there is a myriad of smaller matters comprising a whole slew of operations, including but not limited to schedule conflicts, output, quality standards, communication issues, etc.
If this sounds like the role of the general manager, think again. The rapid advancement of technology and the rise of startups have changed the rules of the game, giving rise to many new roles employees need to learn to perform. Integrators are so much more than one “big boss” – they are the driving force of the entire organization.
However, it is necessary that the business recognizes and defines the best structure so that an integrator can perform their job impeccably. For example, it is essential that the integrator be placed at an appropriate level in the organization where the information and knowledge base necessary for decision-making are readily available.
For many large businesses, this implies – the middle of the management hierarchy.
Dynamic industries traditionally suffer from uncertainties and insufficient knowledge. Because the rules of the game change all the time, it is necessary that integrators have specific problem experiences. As it turns out, middle managers fare best in such circumstances.
As a rule, successful integrator candidates have prior experience in at least two functional departments, which boosts their competence. In other words – they have broad knowledge and sufficient experience to be able to deal with all kinds of rapidly changing situations immediately.
How to Recognize an Integrator?
Now, when it comes to hiring integrators, the process can get tricky, particularly because “integrator” is not a profession. People capable of performing this difficult role need to possess the skills sets mentioned above, but they also need a number of soft skills.
Let’s take a look at the most important ones that will help you hire an integrator.
People capable of becoming stellar integrators possess certain behavior treats not everyone does. Some of the most relevant ones include:
1. A balanced orientation – the capability to strike balance between the extremes likely to arise between the members of the departments whose endeavors they are integrating
2. Balanced behavior patterns – the capability to demonstrate appropriate behavior patterns towards each respective individual whose endeavors they are integrating
3. Decision-making based on knowledge and competence (as opposed to positional authority)
4. Sense of unity where overall results are being valued over the integrator’s individual performance
5. Ability to resolve all sorts of disputes and conflicts in a timely and efficient manner
It is important to keep in mind that successful integrators are influential precisely because of their expertise and mild-mannered ways rather than their authority. This is, also, the main difference between a general manager and an integrator.
The specific personality traits good integrators possess are best observed not through the scope of performance, but through the scope of their needs.
Thus, the main difference between a stellar and an average integrator lies in the following:
1. The need for affiliation – outstanding integrators pay more attention to others’ feelings and aspirations, try to establish friendly relationships and take on more tasks that enable them to deepen their interactions
2. The need for power – integrators are generally in pursuit of influence, which they aim to achieve by taking leadership roles whenever possible
3. The need for achievements – unlike the previous two needs, this one is upside down. Namely, efficient integrators yearn for personal achievements less than average integrators.
Managers Vs Integrators
The most difficult part for many businesses is distinguishing between integrator- and managerial candidates. While there is nothing wrong with integrators aiming for a higher role, it is important to recognize that if their motive is too strong, it may undermine their conflict resolution- and hinder collaboration skills because they will see them as a competitive rather than a collaborative effort.
Look for people capable of diversifying the workforce by simplifying performance management and communicating the company vision in a clear and easily understandable language. Role diversification, in particular, should be among the main focuses of a successful integrator as professionals from different walks of life see things in a different light.
You’ll need an influential integrator (or rather – an entire department charged with empowering integration) who can come up with innovative ideas and is capable of presenting and enforcing them without giving rise to conflicts.
Integrators are invaluable for any business no matter its size or scope especially mobile app development, but you should be careful not to mistake them for managers, at least not in the traditional sense of the word.
On top of knowledge, successful integrators also wield influence based on personal expertise – not their authority, which is to say you should be looking for mild-mannered knowledgeable people with prior experience in at least two functional departments.
It’s a difficult task, admittedly, but not unachievable. Be persistent in recognizing the candidates with the right skillset and personality traits and make certain to provide them with the level of autonomy they need in order to be able to perform their goals.
After all, integration is a continual, ever-changing process that needs to be handled carefully, yet decisively. Make sure to empower your chosen team so that they can get to the job and enjoy results.