I’ve been talking with a number of people in my area the last couple of weeks.  Hanging with folks and being an ear when they need to vent to someone can actually help me (the ear) as well. 

When I worked for large corporations, universities, privately held companies, or even small companies, reorganizations would be announced with much fanfare and most of the time the staff shrugged and said “Oh, I work for Joe now instead of Mary.”  Of course, Joe’s staff now worked for Carrie or Dawn.  Carrie’s staff now worked for Mary and on and on.

It seems there is something in the water – or maybe its the long winter.  I don’t know.  Something seems to be happening and the shrugs are a little more forced.  Not just at one company, but at a BUNCH of companies.  They remind me of when I was working quite a few years ago for a large company and they decided to announce a reorg.

At this company, the bosses said things like “staff reductions” and “strategic reassessment of purpose” and other scary phrases that staff don’t like to hear. Oh, one other thing – the dates of the announcements keep getting pushed out.

People who are employees, particularly at some companies, expect to be there for many years if not their entire career.  As a contractor, I know when I go in that eventually I will leave – sometimes sooner rather than later.

When the cart gets upset, people’s presumptions and expectations get tossed about and the world seems to be completely unpredictable.  Add to that concerns over “What is management doing?” and an observer of human behavior, like a contractor sitting in the corner or the person sitting in the coffee shop or restaurant listening to people tell stories, you get something like “Lord of the Flies.”

The people with awesome skills feel fairly safe.  Those with more modest technical skills or have ensconced themselves into expertise of how things are done now are a in a little trouble – well – maybe a lot of trouble.  If things are changing, then experts in how things USED to be may have limited value.  Particularly if how things are GOING to be are undefined.

Expect to see people asserting their expertise – their value to the organization.  Expect to see people showing their understanding and how they can be proactive – how they can handle challenges.  These are fine – unless they are huge changes in behavior.  When things get really nuts, expect to hear “Look, my part works fine.  If this thing doesn’t work its because those (not nice term) people in that other area can’t do their jobs.”

Why would managers do this?  The thing with telling people there will be staff reductions and strategic changes and everybody’s jobs would change – that thing?  I don’t know.  Really.  I’m pretty clueless.  I have some ideas, and frankly, I’d be rather depressed if that turned out to be the truth.

If you are on the staff of a company that is doing that?  I don’t have a lot of suggestions for you.

Maybe I do have one.

The value you bring to the company and the strength you have are not things that can be easily put on or off at will. 

Be yourself.

Don’t try to be what you are not.  Do what you do and be who you are. 

If you don’t feel comfortable with the behavior you are seeing in the company, then start looking for new opportunities.  Don’t let the folks asserting their expertise or trying to show how much “value” they add define who you are.