A close friend was about to be “repositioned”, but instead he decided to terminate the company. He waited for months while a major global corporation was acquiring his international company and kept saying it wanted to keep the work group intact. They gave employees no direction or encouragement. Then his boss said they were “thinking” of transferring certain workers to the cold and snowy North (from the warm and sunny South). At that point he “repositioned” his own career to a world-class and highly respected company within the same state. He took control of his own destiny.
This case is not unusual. When you’re told you may be repositioned, the question is, are they giving you:
- A subtle message to move on?
- A positive career alternative?
- A chance to show your loyalty by transitioning to another job?
- A clear signal that you are going to be terminated?
- Or what???
Being unclear to employees, no matter what the level, has a dramatic affect on the workforce: Low morale, reduced performance and unsettled and often hostile feelings.
The baloney factor: Here are some quotes when a key person leaves:
- “He wants to spend more time with his family” Subtext: He was fired but we want to make it look like it was his decision. He will spend time at home, with his family, looking for a job.
- “He wants to pursue other business interests” Subtext: We had a major disagreement about who was going to run things. He lost.
- “He wants to be his own boss and start a new business” Subtext: He thought he could do a better job than us. Now he has the chance.
- “He wants to pursue a new and different direction” Subtext: We argued about the future and he disagreed with the decisions we made. I hope we’re right.
- “There was a philosophical difference that couldn’t be overcome” Subtext: He thought our management style was inconsistent with his and he couldn’t continue under a dictator.
Some of the more creative ways of terminating people are:
- We’re not firing you, we’re repositioning your job
- We’re reorganizing the company, and your position is being absorbed
- Your function is being consolidated with others
- We’re cutting redundant positions… yours
- You have three choices: Early retirement, a downsized job or termination.
What’s my point? Things sometimes aren’t what they seem.
On the other hand: Companies have a tough job. Because of privacy laws they can’t say a lot about an individual, nor can they publicize strategic decisions. During an economic slowdown businesses have to find ways to cut costs: Automate, reduce staff, increase performance, reorganize or minimize expenses. The last thing they want to do is lose talent they’ll need in the future. What’s the moral of the story? Manage your own career. You have the most to gain or lose.
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