Tag Archives: management

How to know your company might be in danger

Some signs of trouble in your company are easy to ignore. They aren’t obvious signs of trouble. They can even look like progress.

In the great Indian Ocean tsunami some people survived because they knew the signs of a tidal wave of disaster waiting to happen. They learned, “When the sea retreats far past the beach, run for the high ground. It will soon come roaring back.” It is a natural occurrence before a tsunami.

Job disasters have signs of impending doom like the tsunami causing water to retreat from the shore. Think about it. What happens before a car plant closes down entirely? Work is cut back. Minor layoffs occur. Sales are obviously dropping. Cars stay on dealer lots for longer and longer. Rebates and special incentives are used to sell cars. Managers, supervisors and foreman are laid off. Finally the plant closing is announced.

An old Thai proverb says, 

At high tide fish eat ants. At low tide ants eat fish.

A healthy company succeeds by doing effectively what a dying company struggles to do over and over without success. 

Signs of doom I have seen where I worked included: 

  • A new quality program annually 
  • No more flowers sent to funerals of workers and their family members 
  • Business travel is cut back 
  • On-the-job training is cut back to “just in time” training 
  • Payments for outside tuition is cut back 
  • Technology innovation specialists moved back into production jobs 
  • Promised bonuses cut back or not paid 
  • Refusal to let employees transfer to other areas in the company 
  • Relocation expense reimbursement eliminated 
  • Sudden personal interest in the workers by the company president and chairman. 
  • Empowerment training during declining markets. 
  • Not replacing people who quit. 
  • Reorganizing more and more often. 
  • Stock price dropping. 
  • Replacement of salespeople at a quick clip. 
  • A frenzy of competitor acquisitions.
  • A sudden focus on getting “good press” or being in trade publications.

When you see the signs of impending problems, you may still have years to prepare. Or you may have days. The important thing is to start preparing without being part of the problem. Take positive steps in your own sphere of influence.

When the water retreats from the shoreline, it may look like a great time to go out and pick up the fish left behind. When your boss is sacked, it may seem like the perfect time to get into management. And it may be true. But be careful and look for signs that a tsunami is coming to wash your whole company away.

Later I will talk about how businessmen in India cope with far worse problems than Americans can even begin to understand, and do it with a smile.

Something to do today

Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper. On the left side write signs of company strength, reasons for optimism. On the right put a list of troubling signs of decline. Now pick how you can help accentuate the positive or eliminate the negative. Not only will your actions help your company, they will insulate you from layoffs and prepare you for a new job if disaster strikes.

Picking up a hundred dollar bill can halt your career

Do you pick up money you see on the ground? Do you stop your career in order to do a menial project or take a job someone else should do?

Bending over to pick up a hundred dollar bill is a bad investment of your time if you are Bill Gates. He has averaged earning more than that every two seconds since Microsoft started. I did the math.

Imagine you’re the fastest pizza maker in the world and make the best pizzas ever. However, your name is also Tom Monaghan, and you founded Domino’s Pizza. Is the best use of your time to make pizzas and sell them? No. Not even close. No matter how good your pizzas are, or how many you can make, if you focus on making pizzas instead of making a corporate empire, you will be wasting your time. 

Just because you are the best person for the job, doesn’t mean the job is the best opportunity for you. 

Something to do today

What are you doing that keeps you from tackling more important projects? Who can you get to do that job for you?

The most common bad career goal

The only thing worse than not reaching your goal, is reaching it.

The most common bad career goal

As a recruiter I talk to some people who are miserable that they reached their career goals.  Of course I also talk to those who have reached their goals and are loving it, so they set new ones.  What’s the difference?  Setting the right goals. What is the most common career goal?  I do/do not want to be a manager.

It is a terrible thing to climb the ladder of success, and find out it is leaning against the wrong wall.

I want to be a manager

This is the biggest misery making goal I see.  As a programmer, accountant, salesperson, or engineer you get to regularly do something concrete.  You can see what you did.  It is obvious.  Managers often work a whole week resolving problems and dealing with emotional issues.  At the end of the week, they often cannot point to a single thing they really accomplished.  When someone quits, it is their fault and their responsibility to fix the problem.  Then someone else quits.  They also feel isolated from their coworkers. Managers have to discipline, give raises, and fire people.  It gets lonely at the top.

It can also be the perfect job.  Some people thrive as managers.  If you want to be a manager find out if you will like it.  Lead some projects.  Lead a team.  Reflect on what it will really be like if you no longer “get your hands dirty”.  Ever.

I want out of management

It’s funny that this too is a common bad career goal.  Be honest, do you really want to get back to the daily production grind, or is your current position the problem.  Sometimes you have to change what you are doing, change your boss, or change your company.  If you loved management in the past and did well, but you are no longer allowed to succeed, getting back to a production job isn’t the solution.  Figure out what else must change, and change that.

Being a manager can be great if it fits your personality and you are in the right place.  Before you get out of management, make sure you should be out.  You can volunteer for a project leader job where you go back to work in the trenches for a while.  Get your hands dirty in a temporary assignment to see if that is what you really should be doing.

Be careful that you set goals you will be happy with. See if you can try out that promotion or production job before you take it full time.

Something To Do Today

Figure out when you can spend some time with your goals every day.  Just sitting with a pen and paper for 15 minutes each day can change your life if you are thinking about where you want to go.  Figure out how to try out your goals.

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Have a great New Year.