Monthly Archives: January 2012

The dreaded org change

Organizational changes suck, no doubt about it.

It doesn’t matter what position you are in or how good you are at your job, an “org change” means that things will be different, which often threatens your normal day-to-day.

Org changes sometimes mean a new boss, moving offices, a new job title or even new responsibilities. Departments are combined, outsourced or expanded. The flavors of org changes are numerous. From my experience, in amidst org changes almost no one is safe (no matter how high up the corporate chain you go).  At my company a few years ago, I saw how a merger integration meant that a significant number of VPs and senior executives found themselves demoted or jobless.

While through many org restructurings I have been lucky (for example only experiencing a departmental name change… in a previous sales leadership role my team organization changed names 4 times in 3 years), the dreaded org change finally caught up with me a little over a year ago.

When the org changed was announced (in this case, the combining of two sales organizations), I thought that it would be like every other org change I experienced before. My boss always had the top results (as did I) and I had made a name for myself, even being temp-promoted to manage an entire of the country. At the very worst, I may lose one of my employees and inherit a few from the department we were combining with.

Man was I dead WRONG!

With this org change, my boss moved to another state and took over another department. Plus, my new chain of command was all from the other organization we combined with. I had managed the #1 team in the region for 4 years straight. My territory was the city where I worked and I worked in the city where I lived. My stellar reputation (apparently) didn’t matter at all, as I was given a brand new team (or low performers) and my office was moved 40 miles away while my new team’s territory was actually 80-100 miles away. Additionally, my new boss did not even out the new teams, given better performers to the managers from his previous team.

What’s even worse was that a reputation of being the best for 4 years (while being at the top of the list to be promoted to the next level)  was completely erased. I was back to square one. My new department leaders had their own list of favorites and a different way to measure who was good and who wasn’t. Moreover, since I was given a suboptimal team, it would be even harder to re-prove myself.

In case you experience what I did, here are some quick thoughts on how to handle things the right way:

  • Don’t complain– While you may be known as a successful hard worker with your previous co-workers, the new ones don’t know you will and will brand you as a bitter complainer if that is what they hear out of you when you first start working together.  Make sure to keep your good reputation in tact.
  • Be agile– Learn what the new team is going to be like ASAP (from a business culture perspective as well as from an expectations standpoint). If you are flexible and closely in tune with what is going on, you will be successful no matter what they throw at you. Resiliency is also important, sometimes you need to muscle your way through a tough situation (it will make you stronger).
  • Know when it is a good time to move on– Don’t assume that because of an org change that it is time to get a new job or that things will automatically be terrible (sometimes org changes end up being a good thing). At the same time though, realize that sometimes these changes mark a good time for you to move on. These moves are not always instantaneous but a reorg may be a signal to start looking. For me, I had been in my role for almost 4 years, had weathered 4 restructurings and had accomplished all I wanted to accomplish.  While it did take 5 months, I was finally able to secure that promotion I was being groomed for, and I love my new job even more than the one I had before the reorg.

Remember, reorgs do not signal the end of the world and may be are a great time to take a step back; with the purpose of  both figuring out new ways to be successful in an adapted work environment and to decide whether it is time to do something new.

BE AWESOME! 

-MR. BIZ

 

Follow my blog by clicking the link at the bottom right of your screen.  I’d really appreciate it!

If you found this article useful, then please retweet and share on Facebook by clicking Like.

And please leave your comments and suggestions below

Going out on a limb: the evolution of the American workforce

From when the English landed in Jamestown, Virginia to the present, American business has gone through many evolutionary stages.  From being primarily agrarian to the industrial revolution, the ability to adapt has been paramount for the American workforce.

In more recent history, American adapted from a long history of manfacturing to more of a service based ecosystem of industries where most of our efforts are not about making physical brick and morter items (think of the rise of the internet and the fall of the American auto industry and industrial production in Asia). Since change is a constant, the question beckons, “what is next?”

In my mind, there is a compelling argument that the change will be more in the structure of US businesses.

Currently, there is a mix of both large corporations and small businesses that serve both other businesses and consumers.  Almost all Americans who work either own their own business or contribute 100% of their work effort to a single company (i.e. a full time employer).

With millennials entering the workforce, this system is poised to change, especially with how we were taught in school. Here is why:

Millennials are different than their Gen X and Baby-Boomer predicessors. Millennials are impatient and expect to be promoted and given a raise every year. Millennials are used to doing many things at once (think about how we played soccer, the saxophone and participated in boy/girl scouts all at once).

Unfortunately, that is just not how the corporate world works.  You don’t get promoted every year and often you have to do just one thing (over and over again).

To date, it is fairly typical to see people our age work for 4 different companies in 6 years after graduation, in completely different industries (probably in search for the perfect career, that may or may not exist). This “strategy” is just not sustainable, or at least it won’t lead to moving up both the financial and corporate food chain.

One theory is that while Baby Boomers will stay in the workforce longer, a good number is leadership positions (because many actually like to work and lost a bunch of their retirement savings with the recent economic crisis), millennials will find another way to fuel the US workplace.

This new model will manifest itself in what I call a “community based system.”

The community based system will consist of a marketplace of workers that are not dedicated to a single employer. “Employees” will work for a number of companies, offering their unique set of skills (that are most likely in a few different areas, not just a single area). Employers (which include corporate leadership and business owners) will tap into different platforms that will emerge to find people who can do a task/function they need completed. The “employees” will then be rewarded with payment associated with what they contributed (merit based on performance as well as time based in the form of cash and even company equity).

We have seen models like they beginning to proliferate (like with open source projects in the tech industry), and a “community” model is what millennials are accustomed to after years and years of group projects in school.

Kind of a radical idea, huh?

Well, even if that doesn’t come true, I can easily see that millennials will change the way that work is done in the corporate world. The idea of “work/life balance” will be replaced with “work/life integration” and instead of sitting at a desk from 8am-5pm Monday thru Friday, millennials will find ways to accomplish their job responsibilities when they want and where they want.

I guess only time will tell what the next step in the “evolution” of the American workforce will be.

BE AWESOME! 

-MR. BIZ

 

 

If you found this article useful, then FOLLOW my blog, and please retweet and share on Facebook by clicking Like.

Follow my blog by clicking the link at the bottom right of your screen.  I’d really appreciate it!

And please leave your comments and suggestions below

Random thoughts from CES

I had the opportunity to attend CES (the Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas.  Not to get too far off the topic of my usual career-related advice, I thought I would share some random thoughts from the experience for those who have never been.

This was the first time I attended the conference (or any conference of this size and scale).  Interestingly enough, I was not blown away with much of the technology I saw, but I was taken aback by the size and scale of everything.  The conference took up approximately 35 football fields worth of conference space (that spanned the entire Las Vegas Convention Center and all the conference space in two Vegas hotels) with hundreds of thousands of attendees.

Amidst the robot demonstrations, “connected” devices that leverage cell network or WiFi and super thin TVs, I was struck by how the conference organizers paid attention to every single little detail (from both a monetization and psychological perspective). Every square inch of space was maximized financially.  All column and wall space was covered with advertisements; even wider than normal hallways had “social media centers” that didn’t have any computers (just couches and chairs) that were sponsored by a technology company, of course.  The carpets in the exhibits had very comfortable padding compared to the walkway carpets that were just lying on top of the concrete. This caused you unconsciously (or consciously) to want to stop at exhibits to at least rest your feet almost forcing you to see the technology they were showcasing as the days progressed.

I was also struck by the proliferation of accessories.  I am not sure how happy Steve Jobs would be to know that part of his legacy is the “iLounge” area of the expo where there were literally hundreds of companies that had covers and accessories for iPhones and iPads.

What surprised me most, as I alluded to earlier was that I was not blown away but any of the technology.  Maybe it is because I am focused on new and cutting edge technology for my job, but part of it was that there didn’t seem to be too many amazing pieces of new technology showcased.  I did think the waterproof phones and tablet computers were pretty neat (although I am not sure when I am going to accidently drop my iPad into a pool, and there was an awesome transparent TV made by Haier where you can see right through it- although I don’t have much of a desire to turn one of my windows into a TV. One useful technology (if developed in a less clunky way than I saw showcased) was a keyboard that could be projected on any surface, which would help improve the less than ideal typing experience that I have with touch screen phones/tablets.

Most of the technology was incremental improvements from existing products and a whole lot of HYPE (plus I am not sure if there is any way to make a TV any thinner).

In summary, I think my main takeaways from the experience were as follows:

  • There are ways to monetize almost anything
  • Technology can really improve (and complicate) how we live and we should leverage what we can to organize our work lives (this will become more pronounced as we see the technology tools we use at work meld together with what we use in our personal lives (like how soon we will not have to carry around a separate work phone, as we can access our work information on our personal devices)
  • Wear comfortable shoes, walking around for 10 hours can be tough on the feet
  • Hype can really make the unimpressive seem impressive if you don’t take a step back

Let me leave you with a few images from the event that I snapped (including seeing Snooki)

See through TV

 

Steve Jobs would be rolling over in his grave

 

Handheld desktop PC

 

Environmentally concious DeLorean... Doc and Marty McFly would be proud...

 

Waterproof cell phones and tablets

 

No idea why Snooki is there...

BE AWESOME! 

-MR. BIZ

 

If you found this article useful, then please retweet and share on Facebook by clicking Like.

Follow my blog by clicking the link at the bottom right of your screen.  I’d really appreciate it!

And please leave your comments and suggestions below

Did college really prepare us for the corporate world?

Happy 2012 Everyone!

After anywhere from 2 to 14 days off during the holidays (depending on how many vacation days you had leftover), it is time to get back work.

I will spare you all the flowery talk about new year’s resolutions and hope and possibilities.  Instead I wanted to “get down to business” by offering my two-cents on a core question that has crossed the mind of many, especially a few months into our first jobs after graduation: “Did college really prepare us for the corporate world?”

My short answer is No & Yes. But let me explain…

For most of us, this is what entering the “real world” is like.

This cartoon really encapsulates the the “no” answer to the question on the table.  In college, study is generally focused on theory. Topics are addressed in a vacuum of assumptions, looking to pull out main points.  Most of us at some point have said to ourselves, “when is this going to be relevant in my future job?” (I remember saying this in response to the Scandinavian Mythology course I took in college. A story for another time).

Most of our professors are researches and by nature talk in theory. The corporate world is the exact opposite; it is about practicality. Decisions are routinely made based on facts over theory. No one ever pulls out a textbook to refer to a scientific law related to a dollars and cents decision. Even business theories (while useful) do not always prove to be right in market situations. Moreover, it is interesting to look back on the courses we took, realizing that the ones we found to be most useful and applicable were the most practical (like a course I look on negotiations). Not to downplay the intellectual enrichment extracted from the many theoretical things we studied, but most did not prove to be incredibly useful in corporate situations (except maybe at cocktail parties where inserting an interesting thing we studied here and there can liven conversation or add to the punchline of a joke).

At the same time, though (and here is where the “yes” to the question comes in), there are certain skills that have been taught to us through school.

  1. The corporate world is a giant (and sometimes messed up) group project.  We have all had MANY group projects through years of schooling. We learned that most of the time there is someone on the team who doesn’t pull their weight and generally there is scrambling at the last minute to meet a deadline.  The corporate world is no different. There are people who put in more work and those that put in less. Often you are not rewarded with anything more when you put in extra effort for the team (i.e. in group projects you all got the same grade) and projects are rushed to meet financial goals so that something good can be said on an earnings call with analysts.  Ultimately, in the corporate world you need to learn how to work with others and school gave us a lot of experience doing that.
  2. Preparation meets execution. In college, all the reading, lectures attended and studying comes down to your ability to illustrate your knowledge of a topic on a test or in a final paper.  The same is true in the real world. It is about results.  While preparation is very important (just like in college), if you are unable to perform when the pressure is on, you are not going to succeed.
  3. Politics (and I am not referring to student council).  Through years of school we are used to cliches and people talking about us behind our backs. Unfortunately, this does not change when people get older.  Remember the lessons of when gossip got you in trouble when you were younger.  Don’t fall into the same trap at work. Stay out of all the office politics and focus on your job and getting results.

Whether you feel that college prepared you for the corporate world or not, the bottom line (and yes, feel free to cross off that square in your “Corporate BINGO!” game… for those who don’t know what I am referring to, go back and read this previous blog post) is that we need to be flexible and adapt and learn how to be successful in the work world.  We can’t rely on a textbook to teach us what to do. The best thing is to find good mentors to help us along the way and to take action (aka  “just do it”).

Apocalyptic predictions aside, I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be an exciting and memorable year.  I hope that it will be a successful one for you.

BE AWESOME! 

-MR. BIZ

If you found this article useful, then please retweet and share on Facebook by clicking LIKE below.

Follow my blog by clicking the link at the bottom right of your screen.  I’d really appreciate it!

And please leave your comments and suggestions below

%d bloggers like this: