Question: I’ve enjoyed my role as Head of Human Resources with a large tech company for five years. A year ago, the company was taken over and the new owners brought in their own executives. Since then I’ve been moved to a smaller office and excluded from important meetings. I’ve been in the industry long enough to know that I am being ‘managed out’. Should I stay and fight or accept the inevitable payout?
Answer: The turbulent times brought about by a company takeover can be challenging and unsettling in the immediate aftermath and the initial transition phase. Adapting to new approaches, while struggling to establish yourself in a changed environment, can become a negative cycle if not managed carefully. I suggest these steps:
1.Investigate the situation objectively
It seems that the transition period has been particularly difficult for you and has left you feeling unappreciated and disengaged. It is important, however, to take time to assess the situation objectively before making any firm decisions.
Coaching sessions can provide a safe space to consider the reality of the situation and assist you in separating your emotional response to the changes from the business reality. Work with a coach who is appropriately trained, experienced and understands your needs. Questions you may consider include: How has your role changed? How has the organisation changed? How have my feelings towards the organisation changed? Is the situation short-term or long-term?
2.Explore your options
Having established a strong relationship with a coach, you can now explore all options in a safe space. This will help you to plan potential conversations with management, discuss your project capability, and develop an action plan.
If coaching is not for you, it may be useful to create charts or lists outlining the advantages and disadvantages of all options. Do this outside of office hours and carefully maintain the confidentiality of any documents. Step back from the day-to-day of your role and consider the bigger picture for both yourself and the organisation.
3.Make a firm decision
Once you have weighed up all options, take the time to become comfortable with your decision before acting. If you have decided to remain in the organisation, commit to this. Participate actively in discussions and projects and seize all opportunities. Should you decide to leave, begin your job search as soon as possible. Develop a strong CV and cover letter which accurately reflect recent experience and your career ambitions. Explore your network and mention to trusted individuals in your network that you are now actively seeking a new role. Contact recruitment consultants who specialise in your field and organise meetings to agree expectations. Practise your interview skills by organising mock interview sessions or recording yourself answering competency-based interviews on an iPad or similar device.
4.Leave on a positive note
Should you decide to seek a new role externally, avoid burning bridges. The business community is small, meaning networks often interconnect. Although you may have no intention of rejoining the organisation in future, you may find yourself sitting across from an ex-teammate at interview or at a business networking event.
Negative sentiment may also spill into your answers at an interview and limit your potential to secure a new role. Ensure that you do not allow your current dissatisfaction with the organisation to negatively impact your future career. Just because the company was taken over, doesn’t mean you should forget the experience you gained there.
You are responsible for your own career development and should consider all options in moving forward. Although this is a difficult time for you and for your organisation, you can use this as an opportunity to reflect on your career to date and drive forward with a renewed sense of direction and purpose. Negative sentiment and disengagement can derail even the most driven professionals’ ambitions, so try to focus on potential areas for growth and development, whether this be within your current organisation or in new challenges externally.
This article was first published in the business section of The Sunday Independent, on April 1st, and the original version can be read here.
Read more of Caroline’s blogs here.
Senior Occupational Psychology Consultant