Compilation: Kirti Mutreja
Problem Shared: I am in my mid 40s. I have had a great career in the IT sector over the last 20 years. I have been working in my current organization for last 20 years. Currently I am a program manager at mid management level. I have been the top talent in the past in this org. I have seen great growth in the past and have got several promotions. For the last 2 years, my company’s revenue has been taking a dip quarter by quarter. Our profit margins are shrinking. My manager called me recently and said that he has been asked to reduce his team size. He said, while he would try to protect me, it is better for me to start looking out for other options..he told me (though not very explicitly) that I am a very expensive resource for him and he can find someone 10 years junior to me and get the same work done by him or her. After this conversation, I have started looking out. Most recruiters are saying that there are not too many opportunities at this level. I am now really worried about this mid career crisis. Need your advice please.
Avalanche of suggestions from the experts: Though the person in consideration claims to be the top talent, he needs to revisit the facts and introspect to find the reasons for not being able to place himself successfully. He comes across to be self styled as he considers himself to be the talent and unfortunately the organization doesn’t. The situations are suggesting something altogether contradictory. Firstly if he is a top talent he should neither face any challenges in finding a job nor should the organization be asking him to quit as he is a key resource. On the other hand He can probably work with his current organization at a reduced salary depending on his level of engagement or explore the opportunities elsewhere at a reduced salary until the hiring outlook improves .This indeed is a good time for him to reflect and reinvent himself. He needs to be patient and calm though it seems to be a difficult situation however we all have our share of it. What he may wish to do is accept the situation as it is. Number of rewards and promotions may not always be the true indicators, its relative and situational Review his strengths and competencies, map his skills to current in demand skills and then acquire some new skills too. He can consider venturing out and exploring all networks to see who would come to his rescue. He needs to hold an optimistic yet a realistic view of the situation anticipating something beautiful to come out of it. No one is indispensible. It’s a sad state to be laid off indeed however it could be because of several reasons. Incompetency, laid back attitude, business crisis etc. He needs to ponder upon, introspect and bounce back. There are numerous opportunities, he just needs to learn his lessons and grow. Everyone is talented un-explored and un -expressed. Secondly he has not been asked to leave yet but just hinted. Probably he is blowing it out of proportion. He may wish to take up some additional role or responsibilities to increase his employability. Be a bit more proactive and ensure to achieve the best with less manpower thereby increasing his worth to compel the organization from refraining to lose him.
Since a balance between Hr viewpoint and business has to be struck, it is critical to analyze before advice. It seems that his resume as in skills and competence has not kept pace with his CTC growth. His cost being high reflects that times have moved and same competence is available at much lower cost so why should the business be incurring the cost for no additional skills being added. Jack Welch well propounded that if the rate of change around you is more than the rate of change within you, death is certain only a question of when. In this case he might have failed to do his yearly appraisal and hence landed in this situation. What he can do is analyze self on skills and competence matching to organizational/environmental need and opportunities. Invest in self to acquire new& relevant skills matching the current and future requirements, speak with the HR and his supervisor about his action and buy time. The organization will always welcome vintage with current skill requirement. Arrange financials to fall back for few months even if something goes wrong. Alter his lifestyle to changing realities. Be willing to relocate or accept a pay cut . Grab the available opportunity rather than waiting for the ideal one. He needs to accept the reality and reorganize his priorities to the changing reality. Alternatively He may wish to take a sabbatical to reinvent and look for opportunities if he can afford to. These could be his medium to long term plan of actions.
To sustain his living, he should immediately step back and assess his current situation. Look at his short and long term actions , determine what can be done in the short run. If he can retain his job or get re deployable within the organization either in the same role or another even at the cost of a pay cut Once he ensures that he has been able to ride over the crisis at least short term, he should pay attention to his long term actions. The relevant questions for this time would be: What new skills do I acquire? Should I change my industry/ domain? Should I venture into entrepreneurship? What is my risk appetite?
In the nutshell he needs to be calm, composed , re assess his strengths , build on his competencies and skills, take initiatives, manage and plan his finances, talk to his stake holders, explore the opportunities internally and externally and prove his worth