Thursday, July 9, 2015

How To Survive Your Company's Reorganization

The months of June, July, and August are typically filled with announcements of company reorganizations throughout the agricultural industry. With a significant portion of our industry being seasonal, its no surprise that summer is the season of change.  I found the below article in the Wall Street Journal, and thought it my be of assistance to many of you going through one of these stressful periods in your career.

Whether your company is undergoing a strategic restructuring, a cost-cutting exercise or has just been acquired by another company, a large-scale change can be a source of much stress for employees.
 “Will I lose my job? How will the work environment change? Will I have a new boss? Could there be changes to my pay and benefits?” are common questions that plague employees, says Len Gray, Asia Pacific leader for mergers-and-acquisition consulting at Mercer.
These could be questions facing employees of securities firm MF Global Sify Securities India Pvt. right now, as their U.S. parent MF Global Holdings Ltd. recently went bankrupt. MF Global Sify’s head has said the India unit is not affected, but it’s likely to find itself in the hands of new owners in the near future. 
While employees don’t have much say in times of reorganization, it helps to brace yourself for what may lie ahead. Here are some tips to survive your company’s reorganization:
Get the facts straight: Instead of fretting about the unknown, try to get answers to the question about your future. A good starting point is to understand the management’s vision after the restructuring or acquisition.
“You’ve got to listen very carefully about what the company is saying,” says Dony Kuriakose, director of Edge Executive Search Pvt., a Delhi-based search firm.
For instance, if your company has been acquired because of its special expertise or its presence in a certain geographical area where the acquiring company isn’t present, your unit is relatively secure. “If it’s a pure growth play, you’re not likely to lose your job,” says Mr. Gray of Mercer.
But if the purchasing company is not saying anything, or is giving a vague message, it’s potentially worrisome. If one company is acquiring another that is in the same business, there’s a higher chance of layoffs.
Look at the acquiring company’s organization structure. “If there are overlaps, those areas may be more at risk than others,” says Mr. Gray.
The Spiel: You can look for a company’s message either in internal communications from your senior management or HR personnel, or in external communications, such as press releases, investor presentations, and interviews top management gives to the media.
Sometimes company communication “may not be specific or the individual may not be able to make a very robust deduction about their career,” says Jayesh Pandey, India head for talent and organization performance at consulting firm Accenture. He says it’s best to ask your boss directly about what you can expect.
Self-Assessment: It’s possible that your supervisor is unsure of all the upcoming changes, or specifically how your position will be impacted. In that case, do your own assessment of how vulnerable you are to potential job cuts.
A stellar performance record and being in the good books of the managers makes you relatively safe.
If you have some unique skills, “it is that much more difficult for the company to get rid of you,” says Mr. Kuriakose. On the other hand, if your skills are not up-to-date with the latest technology and knowledge in your industry, that’s bad news.
Some types of jobs are more susceptible to job losses than others. In a cost-cutting exercise, so-called “cost overheads” such as jobs of administration or finance are more likely to be cut versus jobs which bring revenue, such as sales directors.
Suppose your division is poor-performing and is being shut down – in this case the chances of survival are lower. For stellar performers, the company might provide an alternative career path, says Mr. Pandey.
Sometimes companies cut staff based on the date of employment: newer employees are let go first.
In mergers and acquisitions, management-level staff is at higher risk of losing jobs. “There could be two people with equal capability but now the company has space only for one,” says Subeer Bakshi, director of talent and rewards practice at consulting firm Towers Watson.
While none of these are fool-proof ways of knowing your future, they can give you some idea of where you stand.
Your options: If you are confident about being retained and happy with the new look of the company, great.
But if you are not so sure about your job, or if you won’t be happy in the new role post-reorganization, then it might be time to explore life outside your company.
If your self-assessment showed that your skills are not on track with what the job market needs, then consider a “skill inventory build-up,” says Mr. Pandey. This could involve taking up a training course, or joining a management program, or potentially moving to another function within your organization to add to your skills.
If skills are not an issue, it’s time to look for a job.
Recruiters say that the stigma associated with being fired is slowly going away in corporate India because cost-cutting is happening in almost all industries. “It’s reasonable to say – I lost my job in a restructuring,” says Mr. Kuriakose of Edge. To separate the wheat from the chaff though, his recruitment firm usually asks for references from the candidate’s previous employer.
Update your profile on LinkedIn, and go to as many networking events as possible.  “Most of the good people are already in touch with prospective employers,” says Mr. Pandey.
For the in-betweeners: If you are not sure whether you’ll be retained but not ready to move out if you can avoid it, your best bet is to stay focused on your job. If possible, with renewed enthusiasm.
Employees who add value “tend to survive better than those who complain or are too doubtful,” says Mr. Bakshi of Towers Watson.
Be open to change, and think of your company’s reorganization as an opportunity to grow your career. “If you are unwilling to change your own behavior…you will face a kind of career slowdown,” says Mr. Pandey.
Finally, network, network, network – especially within your own company.
If you aren’t already known by the managers and top leaders, make yourself more visible. If the company is still deciding on where the cuts will come, you still have a chance.
“Between the Johnny that you know and the Johnny that you don’t know, you’ll likely keep the Johnny that you know,” says Mr. Kuriakose.

By Shefali Anand and Nikita Garia

5 Common Hiring Mistakes

One of your top missions as a hiring manager is to attract and retain qualified staff. If you've been successful in onboarding personnel who address your company's needs with minimal training - bravo! On the other hand, if you recognize yourself in the gaffes that follow, it may be time for a little self-assessment. Has your lack of interview focus been conveying a message of disinterest to prospective candidates? Without even knowing it, your unrealistic expectations, inappropriate questioning or abrupt style may be limiting your recruiting efforts. Don’t let these blunders happen to you:

1) Your Job Description Is Vague: When writing out position requirements, details count! If the job description is vague, you'll be inundated with resumes from candidates who will also be unfocused. Do you really want to spend time bringing in candidates whose backgrounds may have nothing to do with the skills needed for the job?

2) You Have Forgotten What It's Like to Be a Candidate: At one time or another, we were all first-time job seekers nervously fidgeting in the lobby, waiting for our chance to shine. Now that you're in the hiring seat, don't think that it's okay for you to keep that newbie waiting out there for 15 minutes. Kindness and consideration never go out of style. If there's an emergency or unintended delay, convey that to all involved.

3) You Ask Questions That Are Unrelated to the Job or the Candidate: Nothing is more frustrating to an interviewee than when a recruiter asks questions that have nothing to do with the job requirements. Aligning an 'inquiry strategy' with the position requires planning on your part. Asking an executive about supervisory style is reasonable. Posing the question, "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be, and why?" falls into the category of unreasonable, and not very useful. For best results, allow the resume to guide you when inquiring about the candidate's background and relevant skill set, and relate these to what the position requires.

4) You Think an Interview Is an Interrogation: An overly curt, detached or serious demeanor can deter even the most enthusiastic of prospective hires. By all means, ask your most salient questions, but allow yourself to relax a bit, smile and view the interview as a conversation. Setting each interviewee at ease will increase the likelihood of making a connection with the right person. Your keen ability to size up hopefuls with a welcoming air will encourage a solid contender to not only accept your offer, but will enable them to thrive once hired.

5) You Know Ahead of Time Who You Want to Hire: It's fine to envision your ideal applicant as someone who can hit the ground running, who requires minimal training, and who'll potentially enhance your company's reputation / productivity / profit margin – all realistic expectations. Consider, however, that your preconceived image of an "Entry-level Management Trainee" might not resemble the actual human beings walking through your door. If you tend to disregard people who do not fit your fixed notions (in terms of age, gender, orientation, ethnicity, disability, etc.), you just might overlook someone with qualities perfect for the role. When you can pinpoint relevant experience, identify transferable skills, and draw out real passion for the role despite a candidate's outward characteristics, you're on your way to becoming a more savvy hiring manager

Written by Elaine Boylan, Senior Associate Director, Center for Career Development at Adelphi University

Thursday, January 22, 2015

5 Signs Your Employee Is About To Quit

Unless it's something truly unexpected, such as their spouse is getting transferred or a parent fell suddenly ill and they need to move to care for them, quitting a job isn't taken lightly. It's like a breakup. Excepting extreme circumstances (like discovering your better half has a fetish you just can't abide by), you hem and haw for a long time before cutting those strings.

In some cases, you may want to "save" your employee and it might even be possible. Maybe they're unhappy with a relatively minor issue but just didn't go about fixing it or verbalizing their discomfort in the right way. In other instances, you agree that it's a good parting but also need to make the transition as easy as possible--preferably by having them train or prepare training materials for their successor. Here are the signs you're about to get a two-weeks notice and what to expect:

1. They clock in and out at exactly the right time
Unlike the more obvious signs of an employee coming in chronically late or leaving early, this can also be a red flag. Of course, this is assuming that in the past they would occasionally come in early, work late or volunteer for an extra project. If they're just doing the bare minimum, and that includes when they punch the clock, their job is no longer a priority.

2. They're not as friendly with their colleagues
Much like a personal breakup, doing "the fade" makes it easier for the person leaving. They know they'll soon no longer be comrades with these people, and if they have genuine connections it's simpler for them to start to distance themselves now. This all depends on how social they were to begin with, but an eagle-eyed manager should be able to pick up on it.

3. They just got a degree, license or other certification...
...and have barely mentioned it to you. There are certainly cases where an employee is finishing their degree or decides to pursue a new accreditation while planning to stick with their position. However, if this undertaking is largely hush hush, they're likely making themselves look better for the job hunt. Otherwise, why would they be spending all that time, money and effort just to keep the position they already have?

4. There have been major company changes lately
This one is the trickiest because you have so much other stuff going on, you might not notice cues that a certain employee is unhappy with it. Maybe there's been a lot of turnover lately (especially with management), or maybe there are new guidelines that some people might view as strict. People are creatures of habit, and what can seem like an innocent change to one might be devastating to another. There's a reason turnover begets turnover.

5. They just had a major, positive life event
From marriage to children, the big things in life that are filled with joy can also mean transition time for employees. While it's fair to ask about any changes when an employee welcomes a child home, don't overlook other big events such as publishing a book, getting engaged or trying for the Olympics. They have other things to focus on, and might not think there's enough time for their current job.

Seeing a notice coming gives you an advantage, whether you want to try to persuade and employee to stay or get ready to transition in someone new. Keep your eyes open.

Article credits to Drew Hendricks,

Friday, January 2, 2015

15 Signs Your Employee Is Ready To Manage

Chances are, there are a few great leaders on your team that aren't yet in managerial positions. Some of them may already take on the role of a manager without claiming the title, while others may show subtle signs that they've got what it takes to lead.
Just as the wrong hire is costly, so is the wrong promotion.  A recent article in Inc. magazine polled 15 leaders to get their thoughts on identifying leadership potential.  While there are no “silver bullets,” everything listed is a strong indicator of the aptitude it takes to lead, and should be included in your decision to promote from within. 

Here they are in no specific order:
1. They change their vocabulary from "mine" to "ours."
Going from being an employee to a manager occurs when team members hit a tipping point. It's normally a point when they begin to understand a manager's point of view. Look for subtle changes in a team member's conduct. This may be a simple choice of words. An employee may use the term I, mine or me. Those ready to assume a management role may choose words like ours, we or us.
2. They prove they can manage themselves.
One key indicator that an employee has really come into their own is when they require less and less time to manage. They know what needs to be done and make sure it happens, they learn to spot opportunities and coordinate actions to seize them. The only way someone can ever hope to be a manager is if they can manage themselves, and this is typically evidence enough that they're ready.
3. They look out for others.
If an employee is concerned for their co-worker's success as much as their own on a group project, that's usually a very good sign you have a team player that wants others to succeed. Great managers are selfless leaders that want the unit to succeed together.
4. They take responsibility.
A sign of a leader ready to take on a managerial role is the ability to take responsibility for themselves or the team. The people you lead will give you respect if you own your decisions, regardless of the outcome.
5. They excel above expectations.
The sign of a good leader is if they are going above and beyond consistently. When you naturally see them leading others in all their work--when they excel far above expectations in everything they are doing--it's time for a promotion. You don't want to lose them to someone else that's willing to give them that promotion when you're not!
6. They actually want to take it on.
It's very simple. The most important sign is that they want to be in a managerial role and they ask for it
7. They've mastered their technical craft.
Once team members have mastered their technical craft--but before they get bored--I begin to explore their interest in leading others. Some people are quite content in their individual contributor role, and there's nothing wrong with that. Others, however, crave opportunities that bring new challenges.  
8. They already manage without realizing it.
When a staff member is ready to take on a managerial role, they've already taken on a managerial role without realizing it. Often, I'll notice that they're helping other employees with the marketing plans, giving advice on how to deal with a difficult client, or making the new intern feel welcome. When somebody truly wants to be in that role, they do it without even trying because they enjoy it.
9. They go above and beyond in completing their tasks.
It's very telling when someone goes above and beyond, completing required tasks and ensuring everything is effectively coordinated with the team. If they have a natural affinity for this kind of coordination, they are probably a good fit.
10. They show ingenuity.
A great manager is someone who not only manages existing tasks, but also takes initiative in creating or improving other tasks and processes for the benefit of the company. Potential managers who demonstrate these traits also tend to display ingenuity and critical thinking in the ways they perform on a daily basis, which tells me they are ready to take on more responsibilities.
11. They look for solutions.
Future leaders bring solutions instead of problems. A good manager will understand and have mastered this art form
12. They help others.
When you see team members going to a certain person with questions, that's a clue. When that person has the answer or promises to seek out and deliver the answer, they should be on your radar for moving up into management. When they help other team members and still accomplish their own job, that's the definition of a good manager
13. They show ownership.
One sign is that the employee regularly shows a feeling of pride and ownership in their work. Leading a team is about understanding the big picture and internalizing not only what it will take to get there, but understanding how the assets available to you can help you realize that picture. Employees who approach every task as if its success or failure is a direct reflection on them are on track
14. They volunteer for leadership roles.
A team member who steps up to the plate and takes a leadership role (whether it's in a team project setting or other environment) is sure to be ready for management. These situations present themselves often, and those who take the bull by the horns are the ones who are ready for the next step.
15. They're proactive.
You never want  employees to be on auto-pilot, but there is something to be said when a team member jumpstarts their workload without having to instruct them further. When you find team members proactively asking questions to improve their output to the company, that's when you know they may be ready.

Information provided by Inc. Magazine and the Young Entrepreneur Council