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