Ask the Expert: How do I keep up with the management merry-go-round?

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A. As margin-squeezed financial services firms tweak and re-tweak their formulas for success, regime change is becoming as common to The Street as blue button-down shirts. And-ka-ching-can you hear it? The opening bell of musical chair season just rang out, timed to the cutting of the first bonus check.

You wouldn't be the first person to decide that the best way to ride out reorganization is to fly above it by hitching your star to a brighter one. But beware, says our outplacement expert, Rod Williams. 'The danger in following that 'star' is that many of them eventually reach critical mass and burn out in a spectacular display, resulting in a black hole that can suck in all careers in the nearby proximity.'

A better strategy is to view each change in management as a fresh start-a renewed opportunity to take what you learned from the last group and before to position yourself as a vital part of the equation. 'Picture it as going to work for a new firm without having to leave your space,' advises Williams.

Document for the incoming leaders any pre-existing targets, goals and reviews. But even more importantly, remember that new management often heralds a change of emphasis. Quite simply, what you did before-and how you did it-may not be important going forward.

'You need to remain flexible and nimble in interpreting the new wave of management,' cautions our recruiter expert, Pat Wieser. 'It is important to quickly grasp the new emphasis and what is important to your new bosses. It can be demoralizing, but the ones who win are the ones who can adjust quickly and settle in with the new management.'

Executive coach Maggie Craddock offers a tip for brown-nosing-er, interacting with incoming leaders. 'Be sure that whenever you are dealing with your peers, new management, clients and competitors, you focus not just on how you are coming across, but on how people feel about themselves when they are in contact with you.'

During this tumultuous period, continue to lavish attention on your customers or clients. Not only will these efforts enhance your value to the new regime, they will also boost your leverage if the worst happens and you wind up holding a pink slip. 'Those who've built strong relationships are often the best positioned to negotiate favorable transition arrangements,' says our employment attorney, Ken Taber.

Finally, amid all the role-shuffling, take care not to lose your sense of self or to re-stamp beyond recognition your own deeply held beliefs. 'Your sense of character, your personal integrity, and your strategic insight into what's actually profitable in your department and in your industry are important internal points of reference that will guide you regardless of the ever changing management structure you may be forced to cope with,' says Craddock.

Keeping your personal, ethical standards as high as your professional conduct will be something that will distinguish you from other people in your industry and ensure your success long-term.

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