I’ve been acquired and divested during my career as part of companies or business units being bought or spun off, and I have experienced more reorganizations than I care to count. Whether reorganization was the result of a merger, acquisition or to be more market competitive, the common thread was major organizational change. If you have not yet experienced such change in your career, chances are that you will at some point. Be prepared.
Mergers, acquisitions and reorganizations can bring about organizational upheaval, no matter how good the strategy and communications. People react very differently during these events depending on many factors, most notably, the perception of how the situation will affect the employee personally. In other words, what’s in it for me?
Experiencing uncertainty and speculating are typical reactions of some employees, especially if the economics of the deal dictate consolidations, elimination of redundancies or optimization of synergies. These buzzwords translate to reductions. Uncertainty often leads to fear if employees believe their jobs will be negatively affected.
While there are many things you can’t control during times of organizational transformation, there are four key attributes you do control—Attitude, Action, Accountability and Accomplishment. Mastering these four A’s can differentiate you positively during change.
- Attitude—In times of organizational uncertainty our attitude often speaks volumes, for better or worse. What does your attitude reveal about you during times of change? Do you make those around you feel more confident and hopeful, or nervous and fearful? Do you convey optimism or pessimism? People notice. How do you want to be perceived? Leaders and influencers find ways to step into uncertainty and communicate an authentic message that is compelling to others. It starts with attitude, and you are the person who controls this.
- Action—We’ve all heard the cliché of keeping your head down during times of crisis. This may be what an ostrich does, but changing business climates require people to act. Step up and ask what you can do to help. Volunteer to be on or lead teams that are supplying key work for the change initiative. Organizations depend on the integration of work details that add greater clarity to the high-level vision of the announced change. Choosing to get involved and act can lead to other opportunities.
- Accountability—High-level commitments and milestones are usually set at the top of the enterprise and communicated down for mergers, acquisitions and reorganizations. Accountability becomes critical to getting the work done and meeting or exceeding the stated requirements. Excuses don’t cut it, especially at publicly traded companies that are required to report quarterly. People and teams who demonstrate accountability and meet goals during organizational change get noticed. How are you demonstrating accountability by delivering on your personal and team commitments? Are you helping or inspiring others to do the same? Accountability leads to results.
- Accomplishment—Results matter. Metrics get tracked and reported. In reorganizations, businesses give far more attention to identifying what is not working than to celebrating success. To accomplish key goals as a team or organization, you also need to ensure alignment. This is critical to group or enterprise success as there are interdependencies; multiple people, functions and teams need to coordinate on goals, deliverables and handoffs. Oftentimes, this is where an internal organization development resource or an external resource, such as an Executive Coach skilled at aligning teams and organizations, can help. As new teams form, it is essential that goals are clear, roles and responsibilities are defined, and each team member shares the conviction that everyone is in it together. Achieving this takes some up-front time and can be accomplished through proper planning and facilitation. Leading or being part of a team that is known for accomplishing critical objectives is a terrific way to demonstrate value to any organization. What are you doing to ensure that accomplishments are achieved both personally and collectively?
When you learn your organization is going through a major change, focus on what you can control—Attitude, Action, Accountability and Accomplishment. Wouldn’t it be nice if your leaders viewed you as someone who gets all A’s on your report card?
How can executive coaching help you achieve what’s next during times of organizational change?
Lance Hazzard, CPCC, ACC, is a certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach helping people and organizations successfully achieve what’s next. He is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching and can be reached at [email protected]