Sticky solutions to your everyday business challenges
Question: For the past two years, I have been working on a special project for the CEO. With a small team reporting to me, we opened three new offices around the world and more than doubled our workforce. The work was grueling, but I believed that the CEO would continue to recognize my efforts and reward me with advancement. When the project closed last month, I was told that I’m no longer reporting to the CEO and my staff would be reassigned. I was also told that it’s not personal, but simply a reorganization. I feel like I’ve been benched from the “A” team. Should I update my resume, or accept my new role?
Answer: Getting reassigned from reporting to the CEO can be disheartening and even humiliating. Even though you were told that the decision to reassign you and your staff was not personal, you certainly were personally impacted. The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I going to let my feelings about this change poison my attitude at work, or am I going to learn from it?”
Organizations are complicated. Realistically, the CEO can effectively lead a limited number of people, so as the company grows, so will reporting structures. What’s also a reality is that the longer you work, the more likely you are to face these career-shifting situations. It won’t hurt any less, but the sooner you can pivot from the hurt to deciding how you are going to make the best of this in a way that is true to who you are, what you care about, and where you want to go, the better.
Here are three suggestions for how to handle your current situation:
1. Separate fact from fiction.
First, you stated that your role for the past two years was to lead a special project. That implies that it was a not a full time position, but an initiative with a limited life span. You can consider that a fact. You also stated that you believed that the CEO would continue to recognize your efforts and reward you with advancement. You can consider this a false assumption. Finally, you stated that you helped open three new global locations and more than doubled the workforce. It sounds like you succeeded in leading the project, but need confirmation of this as a fact. You should ask to meet with someone, if not the CEO directly, who can give you clarity about whether you and your team achieved the goals of the project. Getting clarity about fact from fiction will help you gain insight about how much of your disappointment is self-inflicted.
2. Get clear about your why.
Take some time to reflect on why you accepted the position with this organization in the first place. Were you excited about the mission of the company and the impact it can have on the world? If so, this could be an excellent opportunity for you to explore more ways to use your talents to help the organization achieve its mission. Every organization needs people who can be “A” team players at every level. Use this chance to gut check yourself about your values, and whether you believe the mission is more important than your position.
3. If you must exit, do it with honor.
This is not the time to turn your hurt into toxicity by complaining about being treated unfairly, or slogging into the office feeling like you’re working with less important people. If you decide to stay, then give it 110% effort. If you cannot, give it 100% while you carefully search for a position with an organization whose mission is one that you would gladly contribute to, regardless of position. Titles come and go, but purpose-driven work will give you staying power.