Bigger Than the Opportunities

By Henry Bagdasarian

When people are bigger than the opportunities in a tight job market, many may feel stuck and rejected or have a low self esteem when they are unemployed for long periods of time or when they are selected for elimination during company layoffs.

When companies go through restructuring, downsizing or consolidation, certain employees may be eliminated from the planned future organization for various reasons however, this may not necessarily mean that the eliminated employees are not good enough or worthy enough to remain with the new organization, it may just mean that they are bigger than the opportunities available in the future organization. This scenario may exist because the companies are trimming labor costs and attempting to squeeze as much as possible from retained employees in order to run business operations efficiently which does not come without a loss in service quality.

During difficult economic times when companies try to survive for as long as they can holding on tightly to their cash reserves, they have to cut costs in order to ride the wave. One of the biggest business costs is payroll and therefore the survival and short term strategy might not include retaining the most qualified individuals but rather the least expensive employees especially in the least perceived critical groups of the company. For example, management would think twice as hard before eliminating a sales manager who will take the customers with him to another organization and crush the short term business expansion dreams of the company for some time, however, eliminating some back office positions is rather easier while the tasks of the eliminated positions can be transferred to existing employees who will work harder in order to be retained.

Of course corporate politics play a big role in defining the business strategy during times of consolidation and elimination although some management members might have their heads in the sand and proudly claim the non-existence of politics in their organization which I think is very naïve on their part because we not only deal with politics at work but we also live by politics at home when dealing with our kids and spouses. Here’s the definition of office politics from the Internet, "office politic is the use of one's individual or assigned power within an employing organization for the purpose of obtaining advantages beyond one's legitimate authority". Now, who can argue that during a corporate survival mode when anyone can suddenly be eliminated, a person will not attempt to obtain advantage by using all available power in his disposal? Only people with their heads in the sand who refuse to listen or see beyond what they believe in will try to make others believe that there are no politics in their organization.

As I mentioned, such strategies to cut costs at the expense of quality workers are short term strategies and companies eventually hire more qualified people to run their organizations because the consolidation of tasks either leads to lower service quality, loss of revenue and customers, and, creates some type of conflict of interest raising regulator eyebrows in regulated environments, or, the pressure from the forced and excessive consolidation of tasks can no longer be sustained. This is a cycle that has both a beginning and an ending and by no means reflects negatively on all eliminated employees from the new organization but rather may reinforce one’s perspective that she is bigger than the opportunities in the new organization. Sooner or later the job market will improve and quality jobs will reappear when companies start seeing not only increased revenues and profits, but also the negative impact of excess work load and lower quality workers.

Regardless of their professional career direction or the job market and economy conditions, employees are much more in control of their lives than they think and should consider their inner power to create opportunities for themselves. A forced change is sometimes a blessing in disguise and should not be viewed negatively although it may seem at the time of the change that the sky is falling.

One thing I have learned from experience is that in the darkest times of our economy and lives, there are always people and companies thriving somewhere doing something whether they are providing different services and products or starting businesses that fit their talents which were hidden up to that moment. These are the people, companies and industries that we have to partner with and learn from. For this, we have to be open minded, flexible, and less egoistic in order to take the first step and make the switch if necessary to create opportunities.

Improve your career after knowing that you are "bigger than the opportunitie".