Knowing when your time is up is not so easy when you are in the engine room, working flat out. With overall average tenure rates now at 2 years, and senior management tenure not much more than that, your internal networks can literally change or even evaporate overnight! We are encouraged to ‘have no useless acquaintances’ and your networks are your career gold pass and need to be nourished and nurtured.
When you hear the CEO has ‘resigned’ and has already departed the organisation, a series of usually predictable events emerge. For a start, company announcements that a search for a new CEO is underway and that nothing will change will immediately follow, designed to settle the anxiety of the unknown. In all likelihood, the only certainty is that everything will change; but what isn’t known is to what and when? There is always collateral damage as others willingly or unwillingly depart with the CEO.
The Law of Unintended Consequences
This is where The Law of Unintended Consequences comes to bare. Internal network contacts you have developed, from the CEO and their EA down, are no longer available to you. The executive suites take on eerie emptiness where once the C-suite planned the company’s future direction. All is not lost however, those who have left usually re-emerge in leadership roles in other organisations and become valuable all over again.
However, for the moment, your senior management contacts are no more. As the new team installs itself you are faced with having to invest your considerable relationship skills with a whole new array of senior managers. The new CEO invariably brings their own team with them and old alliances are severed and new ones formed. You may have been with the company for years but it now feels like you are the outsider.
Early warning signs that it may be time to go can include:
- Direct reports are siphoned off.
- Suddenly your travel and other expenses are queried.
- Being told you ‘better pull your socks up or else’.
- Being asked how you think you are going; quickly followed by your new manager’s assessment.
- Being excluded from planning and strategy meetings and social engagements you otherwise would have been a key participant.
- Your view and input is not required unless asked for and new alliances are formed that don’t include you.
- Being side lined into a ‘special projects’ role or even worse with nothing whatsoever to do but read the daily newspapers. This is disempowering and it is explicitly intended to be so.
These are just a few indicators and there are many more but equally you may be feeling:
- You just don’t fit anymore and your motivational fit has hit an all-time low.
- You are isolated, helpless and not in control.
- A values misalignment and lack of meaning in your work.
- The new emerging organisation is no longer a good career or culture fit.
- You no longer want to use your talents to help your organisation.
- Pestering recruitment firms trying to head hunt you become welcome interruptions to your routine.
- Your internal network feels your pain and ceases to publically, but may privately, support you.
- Surfing the internet at work becomes more interesting than your job.
- You become overly critical of management and the company and have very little good to say.
If any or all of these conditions resonate with you, it may very well be time to opt out or at the very least take a fresh approach and find a way to adjust positively and meaningfully. The only person it hurts is you to remain in an environment that strips you of your self esteem and erects barriers to career satisfaction.
If the company no longer provides a good fit either way, face it and deal with it. It is always better to proactively manage career changes than drift along hoping things will get better. This may require tact, diplomacy and strategy. The important thing is to remain in control no matter what the implications and unintended consequences of management changes.
Plan for navigational change and build it into your career plan.