Bob Dylan famously sang, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” He was referring to the ‘60s upheaval, not the rapidly changing corporate culture of our day. In your professional environment, it’s crucial to constantly take stock of how the wind is blowing and prepare for change. Businesses constantly go through cycles of change, and certain events serve as an early warning system that things may become very different very soon. Here are some signs that major changes are on the horizon.
1. Look to the Budget
Major budgetary changes indicate shifts in focus. Sometimes, big cuts or revisions reflect the overall health of the company. That’s when it is time to think about your options. Other times, additional or lower funding to certain departments is the barometer of where the company sees its future. If your skills match the company’s direction, that’s promising. If they don’t, ask your manager about receiving training in these areas and how you can best contribute.
2. Cancelled or Postponed Projects
It’s not unusual for companies to cancel or postpone projects, but when a highly-touted project on which many people spent enormous amounts of time and money gets canned, that’s a bad sign for the business. This is also true if several, smaller projects are indefinitely put on hold. The company isn’t thinking about the future at this point — it’s trying to hold on to what it has rather than to grow.
3. Key Executives Leave
Unless you work for a company where executive turnover is very high — a problem in itself — the departure of several key executives always means change is coming, perhaps sooner than you thought. If you were closely associated with a departing exec, that could mean the end of your career at the company — or a deserved promotion. However, when key people head for the exits, it’s often a sign that the company is in serious trouble. Just keep an eye on who is leaving, when and ostensibly why. Someone may leave because they received a truly once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity, while another may leave purely for personal reasons. The sky isn’t necessarily falling, but that doesn’t mean sunshine and blue skies are ahead.
4. Increased Outsourcing
Almost every company outsources a portion of its work, but increased outsourcing and reduction or elimination of departments may mean that more of this type of restructuring is in the cards. Perhaps whole divisions are consolidated. If the company moves to a considerably smaller office space, that’s a big red flag that changes are about to occur.
5. Gut Instinct
Trust your gut. Sometimes, you just know big changes are coming, even if it the signs are subtle. Maybe those above you aren’t as friendly and chatty as they once were — they want to appear completely professional because they know unwelcome changes will soon happen to you or your department. Perhaps people who used to ask for your advice no longer bother to do so. Meetings are canceled and not rescheduled. Rumors start flying, and you’re trying to discern fact from gossip.
No matter how much you love your job and your company, always prepare for the reality that it can change in an instant. Remember the axiom “Expect the best, prepare for the worst”? Work hard, keep your resume fresh, never stop networking and update your skill set. If you work for a publicly traded company, find out what financial analysts are saying.
A layoff is tough, but so is working in an unpleasant or toxic atmosphere. Sometimes the worst that happens to you, such as job loss, is the best thing for you in the long run. One change on the horizon might consist of professional growth and opportunities you would otherwise never experience.
No matter the types of changes on your career horizon, the National Association of Professional Women can help you weather them successfully. Join us today and let us help you achieve your professional goals.