Yesterday, I heard through the grapevine (and the NY Times) a top-tier insurance company will be jettisoning one of their major divisions. Boy was my phone ringing up a storm yesterday! It's like IBM selling off their laptop division (oh . . . that's right . . . they did that already). Or when a #2 bookseller folds (whoops, that happened too). Whether it's a good decision or bad decision is not relevant — fasten your seat belts — it's happening.
There are a few immutable facts about the marketplace today:
- Change is constant. Don't ever think you will be safe forever. Just ask all those poor people on the farm in The Walking Dead.
- Change will usually upset your apple cart. No one is immune - from the CEO to the night cleaning staff, everyone can be affected.
- Change is accelerating. Years ago, it was rare when companies did this. But with global competition looking over our shoulder, we need to be more flexible, nimble, and agile.
Your first instinct is to get ANGRY: "How could this have happened?" or "What a stupid decision!". Be honest with yourself, most changes can be telegraphed for miles — you probably saw this coming months ago. Unfortunately, you (with thousands of your colleagues) said: "All is well" and stuck your head in the sand.
Your second instinct is to hide in your cubicle: "If I just keep my head down, the storm will pass over." That might work sometimes, but it leaves you in a very vulnerable position. If you keep doing the same old thing while the world changes around you, fate will ultimately stop at your cubicle and tap you on your shoulder.
Your third instinct is to fall into a deep MALAISE: "I hate this place." or "It's not like it used to be." or "They're making all the wrong decisions." I'll ask one question — how will that ever help you and your career? Stop it right now.
You have ONE decision to make — STAY or GO. I've covered the 'GO' to death on my site (just search 'career').
If you STAY, you need to change the dynamic. With any major change at a company, all the balls are thrown into the air and the smart, resourceful, and agile people are watching them intently. When they get close enough to catch, you'll see them sprinting and grabbing their opportunity. So here's your plan of attack:
- Keep your peripherals open. What areas have been unaffected? What areas are growing? Who's getting the watering, the feeding the TLC?
- Branch out and talk constructively to people. Learn about what's going on, who are the new movers and shakers, what are the best projects and products?
- Start brainstorming how you can help change the company. Come up with new ideas, new strategies, new efficiencies to do things. Tell people about them.
- Stay positive. When everyone else is jumping to a lifeboat, start to figure out how to right the ship and sail off into the sunset.