I am a fairly new manager for a giant tech company, with only one direct report.
Over the last year our upper management has been consolidating departments and flattening things out. I am pretty sure my direct report and I are going to be either folded into another group or let go altogether.
I don’t want to be demoted or laid off. I know what we do is important to the business unit we are in, but I don’t know whether anyone else thinks so.
What can I do to improve my odds?
Avoiding the Ax
Dear Avoiding the Ax,
The gears that grind giant organizations along are complex and relentless, but I appreciate your desire to avoid getting crushed in them. There are a couple of things you might consider doing.
Take a hard look at your mandate and ask yourself what would make your tiny team indispensable. If no one seems to understand what value you add, you may indeed be in trouble. Develop your peer relationships, become more familiar with their goals, and look for ways to be useful to them. I once worked with a client who asked his CEO how he would know he was successful in his job, and the reply was that he could measure his success by how often his phone rang. Raise your own visibility among the groups you serve. Find ways to contribute that you might not have thought of before. Write something for the company blog if that is feasible. Also—and I mean this literally—if you work from home more than you work at the office (as is often the case in tech) you might consider switching up your routine and showing your face more.
You don’t mention your boss, so I do wonder what help might be there. You must have one. Talk to that person. Discuss your concerns and ask what they may be able to share with you about what is going on. Be prepared to make clear that you care about the organization and you would like to stay and continue to make a contribution.
Check out job postings in other departments. Giant companies tend to have a lot of opportunities for lateral moves. If the conversation with your manager does not increase your confidence, spiff up your resume and start looking for other options. It will make you feel better to be proactive than to sit and wait for the ax to drop. It wouldn’t hurt to start looking for opportunities outside the company as well, possibly for one where you can manage more people.
Good luck to you.
About the author
Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.
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