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Round the Mulberry Bush

IT HAPPENS all the time! Its sometimes very stressful and its always unsettling. And its happened to me. Recently. Last month! But I handle it the same way every time, because its so common that its no more than another bump in my career path. And I'm a Vice President and a Chief Knowledge Officer and the head of my SBU.

I can imagine what it feels like to my junior colleagues and I often see them struggling to cope with the pain and the anxious moments. I've had to get some of my people last time to resign and then reapply for reassignment. In India, its reasonably easy to get a subordinate to resign, because the level of trust is reasonably high.

But already I begin to see the cracks. When I ask my team to quit and re-apply, they do, but when my fellow vice presidents or even the CEO himself asks, there is near panic and employees find ways to see me and ask for clarity.

Even when I assure them, they continue to have little panic attacks and there is a distinct drop in productivity. Which again leads to people questioning their ability to cope thereby giving rise to more anxiety.

So what do people do to get on top of the problem and carry on as if nothing has happened?

How can the panic and uncertainty be contained and dealt with? Quite simply, by keeping a few factors in mind so that you can maintain a equilibrium in the seismic instability of the structure.

Lack of communication from the top is normal! Very sensitive organisations may keep their people in the loop more than others but at such times of stress, even the top people are unsettled and they will not like to talk about anything very much. You need to understand that this aspect is not in your control, and whatever you may hear on the grapevine is not reliable (unless you have had the experience of its reliability!) You could try asking your boss, but don't be surprised if he is as clueless as you are!

Avoid fruitless, time-wasting discussions because they are high-profile activities that are noticed by the senior people. On one hand its seen as being disloyal to the management and on the other it will not solve anything. The next time the axe of restructuring falls, it may be on your role so why take the risk in a no-win situation?

If there is someone in the organisation that you respect and admire, you could always sound him out and ask him for advice on how to go on and how to cope with the restructuring exercise. Ask him what your options are. He will know because he has been in the organisation far longer than you have and should, if you really respect him, have your best interests at heart

One thing that gets knocked awry in the unsettled state of a shake up is your work routine so be sure you do not let that get out of hand. Great results have been seen from people who have gone on as before without even a falter in their step. They do this by noting down their work plans in a systematic manner, the day prior so that they can go on with their work without even the most minor disruption. As a result guess who gets the least destabilised at the next shuffle?

If you still have a job; not necessarily the one you've been doing all along, try and figure why you have been chosen over others to be retained. Its obvious that the organisation values you for something that you must have done. That fact alone should lay to rest any anxiety that you may have of insecurity

Check to see what your plan of action is. Will you start looking for ways to avenge the axing of many dear colleagues or are you staying because you really believe in the company and appreciate that they are doing something positive to refocus their energies to achieving their vision. If your remaining where you are is because of ennui or cussedness, trust me, its much better you look around because you will probably not give your best to your company again and will certainly be the next one to go in the next spring's clean up

In the final analysis, you have the option of leaving if you find the unsettledness disquieting and hence upsetting. But do you think, do you know, if the situation elsewhere is different? The reason your company is in flux could because market conditions are as chimerical as they are where you happen to be, so similar situations could be possible in other places too.

If you stay though, make sure its for all the right reasons and not ones that are questionable

Please understand that companies need, from time to time, to refocus and get their act together.

There will be occasions that certain activities need to be curtailed and some people may be found to be superfluous.

After all, not trimming the deadwood is what every company should do if they want to be true to their stakeholders.

Keeping on people is bad for them and the rest who remain! If you are asked to stay, there is a reason for that and though you could have the option to leave, the fact that you have been asked is significant because they need you.

Your contribution is necessary for the fruition of their future plans so there is no need for you to feel insecure and if you are not insecure, what need is for you to feel unsettled?

Today, I look forward to the next restructuring exercise. I'll get to do something new and save myself from falling in a rut of boredom.

Who knows, perhaps I might actually learn something new that will keep me excited and motivated!


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