Friday, July 14, 2017

Look through the "other" end of the telescope ...

Across the business landscape there are headlines every day of companies realigning or restructuring their operating models to meet changing competitive challenges.  In some instances it is a retailer closing unprofitable stores, in another it may be a manufacturing entity consolidating their supply chain to improve efficiency and quite literally the list goes on and on.  When companies struggle to compete and “win,” they often look to the well-worn world of realignment/restructuring “consultants” to help them “improve” their operating model with an eye towards future success.  Having seen this trend “up-close” in a variety of contexts, it is tempting for me to “opine” on the mid-long term efficacy of these actions.  Possibly saving that content for a future blog essay, today I want to comment on the very real human side of these actions.

In a moment of coincidence, two companies from my past are executing restructuring efforts this summer and I am hearing from a number of associates/executives “impacted” in these actions.  In some circumstances they are 50+ year-old execs, being offered “early retirement” packages well before their personal plans for retirement.  In other situations, they are 30+ year old execs, 10+/- years into their careers facing the first real “speed bump” of their professional lives, and numerous situations in-between.  This essay was triggered from one such discussion that I had earlier tis week with someone on the younger end of the “impacted” spectrum.

The phone call I received early this week started innocently enough.  The woman on the other end of the line and I had worked together closely for a number of years and have known each other for the past 8 +/- years.  She had recently been “impacted” by a restructuring effort and her job was being outsourced to a third-party company.  (Very common in the restructuring playbook.)  Once we dug through the emotions of the moment, and her sadness, anger and frustration about why this plan even had to happen, she shared the core of her concerns and anxiety.  As part of the process, she was going to have to “interview” with the “third party” company for her old job and that interview was late this week.  The prospect of sitting on the other side for the table from a group of interviewers, each with their “telescopes” (her imagery) zeroed in on her every comment was a bit of a “freak-out.”  Certainly an understandable response!

Pulling out an old essay and encouraging her to “P/B/R: Pause, Breathe, & Reconnect" (see more at we talked about the upcoming interview and I encouraged her to “look through the other end of THEIR telescopes.”  Think about THEM and their needs/issues.  Here THEY were, trying to find talent and build an organization to meet the needs of their new client.  THEY needed people like her; people with exceptional track records, strong well-documented accomplishments, with demonstrated leadership talents/skills/etc.! THEY NEEDED HER!!  Looking through the “other end of the telescope,” they weren’t coming to the interview to identify and explore this woman’s flaws/weaknesses.  They were coming to the interview to identify and explore her talents, qualities and experiences.  Once again, they NEEDED & WANTED her to be great!

The phone call closed out a bit after this discussion and she seemed focused and ready with a new attitude toward the upcoming interviews .  While I will be anxious to hear the outcome of the interview experience from my old friend, I am confident that we can all learn a lesson from the “telescope” imagery.  Too often we get “stuck” by looking at the “telescopes” in our work lives solely from OUR end, rather than pausing for a moment (remember “P/B/R”) and working to “look through the telescope form the other end!”

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