Riding the Waves of Change
The turbulent 1980s gave rise to the use of a phrase from Shakespeare's The Tempest to describe the magnitude of the upheaval in the business world: “sea change.” The new environment was dramatically different from the old one, as were the new ways. Such upheavals are like volcanic eruptions: They blow existing structures to oblivion and construct new ones, often simultaneously. One minute there's a mountain and the next there's a smoking crater.
But down slopes make for new hills and valleys and rivers and lakes, a ready-made environment to replace the old one. In the business world, such eruptions take the form of mergers and acquisitions. One day there's a giant conglomerate that dominates the corporate landscape, and the next there's a smattering of small companies scattered all around.
Things change. It's as much a reality of your career as it is of nature. Companies change, people change, needs change. The typical American worker may have as many as seven careers during his or her working life, and three or four times that many jobs — a significant change in the course of a generation.
In commerce, as in nature, change results in new and often unexpected growth. Those who thrive are those who can adapt to new needs and demands and respond to challenging or difficult situations with positive attitudes and actions.
Nowhere is this more true — or more significant — than for managers. Not only must you stay current with changes in your field of expertise, you also must remain up-to-date on laws and regulations that affect the workplace, changes in business practices, and advances in technology.
Your company may change ownership. Core employees may leave. You cannot influence these events, so you must keep yourself prepared to accommodate them. Make sure that when you are the manager being replaced (which is inevitable) it's either by your choice or by a means that lets you land on your feet.