I’ve recently had the pleasure of having a number of discussions about professional selling with Peter Black – one of Sydney’s most highly regarded business and executive coaches. Peter is ex-PWC (but we won’t hold that against him!), and has been working for the last few years as a coach for senior executives from a range of industries, including finance, ICT, pharmaceuticals and professionals services.
Over the past 12 months, Peter’s work has included consulting to the outplacement firm DBM, where he has been involved with providing outplacement programs to retrenched employees from companies such as Dell, EDS, Microsoft, Qantas, Rio Tinto and Sensis, as well as conducting a range of personal career and executive coaching assignments.
After Peter and I attended a business breakfast a few weeks ago, I asked him to give me some insights into the people he had worked with and some tips I could share with my audience. Following are Peter’s overview of what’s happening in corporate Australia – and 3 things you should do – just in case you happen to be one of the many who will find their employment arrangements ending sooner that they had wanted.
Over to you, Peter.
Why are retrenchments happening – and how long will the situation last?
It’s fair to say it has been a busy 12 months for the outplacement industry as the GFC has impacted and companies have downsized, right sized, dehired or whatever euphemism is used.
I saw it pick up about the middle of 2008, accelerate after Lehmann Bros collapsed in September, pause in early 2009 and it is now taking off again. The government is forecasting unemployment will peak at 8.5% in 2011 so I think we still have a way to go.
It is also becoming more best and accepted practice where there is a redundancy to provide career transition services to the affected employees to assist them to position themselves appropriately into whatever they want to do next. Career transition services will normally include a personal coach, use of office facilities, online training, assistance with resume, interviewing and networking skills and most importantly, an opportunity to consider one’s personal and career goals.
Do you see any common themes to retrenchments?
Firstly, it is normally a business decision that companies make and it is a redundancy of the position not the person, even if you take it personally as we all tend to do. I must admit that sometimes employers do find that a redundancy is an easier way to exit what we might call a “difficult” employee although care needs to be taken if that is the case.
Secondly, it is important that you tap into support networks at this time of change and accept help – no matter how tough you think you are. And those networks should be developed whilst you are still in a job – internally and externally – not after you have been retrenched and it is one of the greatest gaps I see with my clients.
Thirdly, it is a great opportunity, believe it or not, to pause, reflect, contemplate and redesign your career and life for the better. I often find that people have actually been in the wrong role, wrong company, wrong industry, etc for some time when they are retrenched. Even though those factors were usually right at some time in the past – one or both of the parties has grown apart from the other. The redundancy is actually a great opportunity to get it right again.
What are the reactions you see when someone is retrenched – and how should we react?
I see the full range of emotions and reactions and everyone deals with it in their own individual way. Some people are elated, some shocked, some angry, some depressed and some excited. My role and process is to get them to articulate how they are feeling, listen, provide perspective and commence working out a way forward – taking into account their values, goals, personal situation, finances etc. In many ways, it is like a grief process and dealing with the loss of something – their job – which has been a big part of their life and which has been really important. The loss can have an impact on things like health, sleep patterns and relationships – positively as well as negatively. It’s really important that people recognise that all these feelings are normal.
Whilst we all hope it won’t happen – if it does, or is likely to – I recommend three things.
1. Firstly, start planning for it right now i.e. do some personal contingency planning and that in itself may prevent it. Be continually building what I call your FANS – an acronym for your Financial Independence, your Achievements, your Networks and your Skills – whilst you are still in a job.
2. Secondly, accept it as a business decision and do not do or say anything that could damage what I call your personal brand – ultimately, we all work in a small market and people have long memories.
3. And thirdly, seek advice, support and assistance from appropriate family, friends and professionals like me – and that goes particularly for us tough he man males who think we know better – put the ego aside for once. We can lot from females here who more often than not do reach out appropriately.
One more resource to help get through a retrenchment.
It is possible and quite common that feelings of anxiety and depression could occur as you go through a retrenchment. As mentioned above, seek support from those around you – family, friends and relevant health professionals plus explore some great resources here:
Thanks Peter. Good information. I also know you have a pet topic – “developing your personal brand”. We’ll cover this another day!
If you’d like some help coping with a recent retrenchment or feel that an experienced executive coach could be of value in developing your career (and defending yourself against retrenchment) – please contact Peter via his website at www.peterblackcoaching.com or call Peter directly on 0419 510 955.
Thanks for reading this post – Paul Sparks, Sales Effectiveness Australasia.
“Taking you beyond sales training and keeping you informed about the latest ideas, trends, innovation, research & best practice in professional selling and sales management”
If you would like to connect with Paul Sparks please email paulsparks [at] saleseffectiveness.com.au