You are not the chosen one

You are not the chosen one

When a company announces retrenchments, a long period goes by before the actual cutting of employee numbers occurs.  Work that proceeds the exit of employees are vast and includes aspects such as company redesign, departmental shifts, bottom line calculations of work to be completed by each area, job design and profile comparisons.

Just reading that, you should know that when a company announces retrenchments and redesign, it means that the company will probably be in limbo for at least 9 to 12 months.  This is a long time, especially if you are lower down on the food-chain and see the top management change, new managers appointed and teams disintegrating. 

One of the factors of being retained at the company will be how you interact, behave and perform during those months of change.  Although you should not be fooled in that you will secure a job by suddenly performing now but rather exceeding your performance, will probably make your case for appointment stronger.

We have all seen the blood against the walls when nobody is secure during a retrenchment and redesign process.  Your trusted colleague suddenly turns on you and throws you under the bus in an open forum. Your team members don’t share information with you, and you feel left out or stranded wondering what is going on.  Those that you depend on to complete work suddenly don’t perform (for all the retrenchment related emotional reasons under the sun).  People’s true characters come to the forefront when dealing with extreme pressure, especially retrenchment. 

And then the day arrives… the new jobs and incumbents are confirmed.  You are not the chosen one!

One of the worst things you can do when you don’t get the job or did not get placed during retrenchment is lash out, take it personal and don’t accept the challenge.  Your first reactions might be that of shock, disappointment, anger or even thoughts of revenge. 

Maybe you need to look inward and not find fault with “the organisation”, “the manager”, the “successful candidate” and ask yourself some critical questions about yourself.

What did I do to contribute to not being picked?  Challenge your thinking and look at your own capabilities and skills.  Was the successful person better than me?  That is ok. 

Was my performance so that it vowed for me in my absence?  Think of your last three years of employment and name those things that you did exceptionally well or contributed towards on a large scale in the company.  Are there any contributions?  Maybe that is the underwriting element of you being unsuccessful.   

Were my deliverables of such a nature that others saw it as encouragement?  Changing the world of work is not always glamorous and does not consist of big wins but helping more than one individual on more than one day which will not go unnoticed. 

Was my management style seen as an example to new, younger managers?  The real question is “If I managed myself, what would I think of my manager?”  Thinking of how you manged your team in the past few years are you peppered with thoughts of great performance, commitment and motivated employees with minimal upset or are you stifled with thoughts of poor performance, disciplinary actions, lack of commitment and never reaching target?

Did I leave behind corpses or better global citizens?  Yes, your actions and behaviour have a direct impact on others.  To truly be an enabler you need to look at the success of others that you directly or indirectly affected.

Would I appoint myself, and if so why?  Now is not the time to be biased.  Consider your unique offerings to the team, department and company.  The last thought should be that of entitlement.  The universe doesn’t owe you anything.  Nothing in your past has given you the right to have anything now.  It is pure grace.

Let’s look at those that are successful and must manage the turmoil that comes with it.

Being appointed during a retrenchment process and being one of the survivors are not necessarily the best thing that will happen to you.  You might end up in a team that you don’t know or reporting to somebody that you absolutely hate.

According to Robert Sutton, a professor at Stanford University and author of the book “The No Asshole Rule”, it is an awkward situation for both the new manager and the new team members.  If the new manager is your old friend, you might see that they react as if nothing changed.  This is good in the beginning but not good in the long run.  You might see that the new manager let the power go to their head and talk too much or push people around or don’t listen. 

You can change the course of events.  How?  Like this…

  1. Accept that things will and have to change

It is not the end of the world, just the end of the world as you know it.  Make sure that you are up for the changes and embrace them.  You might just learn something new.

  • You might have an advantage but don’t play it

Just because you have a new manager and that person does not know the department, don’t use that against them.  It always backfires.  You might be friends with the new manager but that might not be your saving grace when your performance is lacking.  You might dislike your new manager, but they have been appointed to lead the team, so respect that and you will be respected in return.

  • Think how you can help

Withholding knowledge, skills and information is not seen as helping anyone, even you.  If you were in that position and had to face a subordinate like yourself, how would that make you feel or react?

  • Don’t suck up

We all want to find favour with the new leader but sucking up is tacky and downright unprofessional.  Almost all people can see through a pretentious individual and that will harm your reputation even further.

  • Apply for other positions

Consider your moves carefully and if it dawns on you that you are not comfortable with the new team and what is expected, maybe the change you seek is in applying for other positions.

Your behaviour in the first 3 months in your new team will predict the relationship for the future.  Your feelings of resentment, hurt, and shock of not being the chosen one will either play out in your behaviour or in your performance.  This is what you should do:

1. Examine your attitude and feelings toward your new manager: If you consider this person an enemy for reasons such as jealousy or the two of you just haven’t clicked, you need to make some adjustments to your own attitude.  Do some real soul-searching. Why don’t you like this person? Are there ways you can get past your negative feelings? The company executives have obviously seen things in this person that they like, and it might be time for you to see his or her good qualities as well.  Try to think of the good of the company, rather than yourself.  You might even learn some things from your new manager.

2. Be the bigger person: Setting aside differences is sometimes extremely difficult, especially when it comes to work situations. Remember that your success at work depends mainly on you.  Prepare clear goals for finding more success within yourself and rise above the differences and any negative comments or interactions with your new manager.

3. Be open and honest: If you think you and your new manager’s differences can be resolved, request a meeting before you start your new working relationship.  Sit down and talk about your differences and come up with ways to put them behind you. Remember that there are always two sides to every story.

4. If nothing else works, look to other options: If you cannot let go of your differences, apply for other positions. If you opt for this route, ensure you maintain professionalism and don’t bad-mouth your manager.  Avoid name-calling and unfounded accusations.

When you are not the chosen one, understand the reason/s why.

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