A change at the top and what it means to you
Earlier this week there was an announcement that Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi resigned as the president of the PC manufacturer’s parent company. Lenovo is the second largest PC manufacturer in the world, and is the same company that in 2005 purchased IBM’s personal computer business (see my post Kaleidoscope Thinking post in which I touch on IBM’s transition from a product company to a service company).
While there are to be certain many questions at this particular time surrounding his decision to step down, I could not help but wonder what this meant to those who had over the years become an integral part of his team. Emphasis as you can tell on the reference to “his” team.
This is an interesting question on many levels in that like the concept of trickle-down economics, significant changes such as these will invariably cause a ripple effect throughout the entire organization. Think of it as a kind of cascading chain reaction that puts everyone at risk from someone in the executive suite corner office through to the shipping dock.
The irony for most employees is that as these events at the top unfold you often times feel like you are detached from the changes that occur in a part of the company that has been for the most part foreign to you. Alternatively, and if you are connected to the departing leadership, your vulnerability is based more on what I call relational proximity in which you are viewed as being part of the old team. Regardless of past accomplishments, your loyalty and willingness to adapt to the changing of the guard are almost always called into question.
So what do you do?
- First and foremost demonstrate that you are a team player. The new boss is likely trying to feel his or her way through the new organization and as such, will look for those individuals who can provide both support as well as knowledge surrounding the inner workings of the company. By being able to talk confidently about both your job as well as the role that others play in making the organization successful will make you an indispensable resource.
- Show that you are open to new ideas and approach the new boss as to what his or her goals are in both the immediate and long-term future. From there you can then discuss how your unique abilities can be best utilized to help them to achieve their objectives.
What not to do!
- Under no circumstances criticize the outgoing boss. This doesn’t mean that you have to falsely paint a flowery picture of Utopian interaction. If there are things that you would have done differently, be frank in terms of indicating that even though you may not have agreed with every decision, you respected the fact that with your former boss there was room for both constructive disagreement and positive discussion.
- If asked about co-workers, focus on their job function as opposed to personal characteristics. Above all do not attempt to ingratiate yourself or gain a better position at the expense of others.
- Do not hide in the background hoping to survive the change by getting lost in the crowd. In times of change, everyone’s and I mean everyone’s role will likely be evaluated. If you relegate yourself to merely being an employee number that is precisely how your value or lack thereof will be assessed.
- Conversely, do not approach your new boss indicating that you need your job because you have a family to support, or have no other options on the horizon. Someone who desperately needs their job is someone who cannot be counted upon to provide honest input for fear of the consequences.
In the end, the most important thing to remember is to always be true to your authentic self, possessing the confidence associated with letting the chips fall where they may.