Dear BI Career Consultants:
There is significant activity around reorganization and reengineering at my institution. It is a bit scary and I worry whether or not I will be able to maintain my position.
Brent E. Johnson
assistant dean and director
MBA Program, School of Business Administration
Clark Atlanta University
Restructuring within any organization usually means change, and change produces anxiety in most people. However, history shows us change is necessary and it often provides unforeseen opportunities.
First, you should take a comprehensive inventory of your skill-set, and then look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What do I want to do?”
Next, you should get the facts about the reorganization, and determine who are the key players in these moves. More than likely, you know or have had contact with one or more of these people. In an effort to be proactive about your job, and your career, you should make an appointment to sit down with the individual with whom you feel most comfortable.
During that meeting, you should discuss your skills and abilities; your performance in your current position, citing a few outstanding work products; your career aspirations within the university; your willingness to be flexible during the transition; and your desire to be part of the transformed organization.
If you are support staff, or feel some trepidation about going out of your “chain-of-command,” you may want to have this same type of conversation with your supervisor. If you choose this route, you should document your discussion, and ask that it be made a part of your permanent file.
While many universities are re-engineering functions and plodding into the 21st century, most of them have sufficiently broad employment opportunities such that you need not be afraid. If you are doing your job — and doing it well — you may even be rewarded during this whole process.
Margaret Daniels Tyler
Chief of Staff
Norfolk State University
A rapidly changing world deals ruthlessly with organizations and individuals that do not change. Continuous change will be crucial if your institution is to survive in the years to come. You may be faced with new expectations, shifting priorities, and different reporting relationships. Your work may be vaguely defined and your assignments may get altered constantly. Usually there are more questions than answers.
This suggests that you should learn to create more clarity for yourself. Take personal responsibility for determining your priorities and then point yourself in that direction. Do not pull back waiting for someone else to frame out the specifics of your duties. Chase down the information you need. Show initiative in getting your bearings and align your efforts with the management’s larger plan. Your institution cannot stop the world from changing. The best it can do is to adapt.
Too often, employees rest on past achievements instead of requiring themselves to constantly upgrade their skills. They count on their work history to qualify them for a promising career future. They become too dependent on their employer, expecting policies to shield them from the raw forces of change. This does not always work.
Do not fall into the trap of assuming that you are automatically entitled to pay increases, promotions, or your job. Even if you perform well, circumstances will continue to change. The best thing you can do is constantly upgrade your skills, stay flexible, and never allow yourself to think that your employer is supposed to protect your career.
The bigger question is as follows: Are you thriving or surviving? It is not enough to just survive on your job. Surviving is about staying in place and hoping for the best. Thriving is about continually assessing where you are and taking steps to improve your job situation. Survivors often hang on too long. Sometime surviving is the best you can do, but it definitely will catch up with you — and when it does, you will find that you have wasted a lot of time being unhappy. Thrivers learn new things about themselves and then they take action.
If you wonder whether you are surviving or thriving, ask yourself the following questions: Are you passed over for choice jobs or assignments? Have you stopped learning new things in your job? Do you frequently dread going to work? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you should talk to people in your organization who you respect and then examine your needs. You do not have to change jobs or careers right away, but even doing things differently where you are is a good beginning.
Take on a new responsibility. Volunteer for new projects. Ask for training. Take outside courses. Today’s world takes no pity on the person that gets lazy about learning. You must invest in your own growth, development, and self-renewal. Thriving will make you feel more secure in an insecure world and will lead to new opportunities and maybe more money.
It is no longer possible to be a passive player in your own career management. Your future employability depends on you having a relentless drive to update credentials, acquire new skills, and stay abreast of what is happening in your field. Employer loyalty is a thing of the past. You have to carve out your own niche and do what is best for you.
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