The career ladder our parents knew has been replaced with a climbing wall. That’s the conclusion my friend Bev Kaye has reached. What a powerful metaphor! With this picture in mind, let’s think about this week’s question: I’ve been demoted, what do I do now?
Obviously, a change in responsibility or title can be an emotional event. And, each situation has its own unique circumstances. That makes giving counsel on this topic particularly difficult. However, I have a few thoughts for you to consider.
Determine the why. As best you can, find out the root cause for the change. Is it a performance issue? Do you have a skill gap in a needed area? Was the change generic or specific? Were all the men and women with your role/title impacted by the change? Is the organization trying to encourage you to leave?
Focus on contribution. Let’s assume you currently add value in your organization. If you didn’t, they wouldn’t have changed your role or title, you’d have been fired. How can you add more value? If this becomes your pursuit, you’ll have a greater chance of dealing with the disappointment of your current situation. Contribution, over time, will be recognized.
Prepare yourself. We talked about this in a meeting last week. There are many things leaders control. However, I don’t think we control our opportunities. I believe we control our readiness – the organization controls our opportunities. Readiness is usually a prerequisite for responsibility. Therefore, my advice to all leaders is the same: get ready.
Adjust your expectations. Because the ladder is now a climbing wall, don’t assume your next move will always be up – often it will not. That’s not how a climbing wall works. Have you been on a climbing wall? I have. It can be tough. You often find yourself having to take what the wall will give you. Increasingly, I believe we’re going to see lateral moves; even what appears to be moves back to better position ourselves for future moves.
Don’t quit and stay. As you may know, many organizations are floundering due to large portions of their team who are actively disengaged. Some even refer to these employees as “terrorists.” Don’t become one of them! If you can’t find peace with your new role or title, leave. If you disengage, your career is over. Exercise your ultimate power and decide if you want to work with your current organization or not.
I’m sorry you’re struggling with this change. I know it’s hard. However, I believe you’ll emerge stronger. Here’s why…
You’re a leader!
Leaders create the future. You can make tomorrow a better version of today… regardless of your title.[GLS_Shield]