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Role change


Current economic realities and high levels of unemployment have meant that many senior managers from various sectors have taken on jobs well below their actual capability. This can involve getting used to a diferent types of culture and values, such as moving from project management into education. Many find this change very difficult to cope with and still operate as though they were still back in their former roles,bringing former attitudes and behaviours

Does anyone recognise this and can anyone suggest innovative ways this can be handled?

Chris Whelan

One Response

  1. Role change


    I think there are a number of factors at play. Change of organisation or sector is one – see for Ian Watmore’s comments on public servants suitability for the private sector, a view I would endorse. But the greater the change in context and culture, the greater the need to translate your existing knowledge and experience to your new situation. Some do this more easily than others, even at senior levels.

    You also mention that some people now find themselves in a role ‘below their actual capacity’. This is often, though not always, a boon to employers. They can gain additional expertise and get more bang for their buck. However, you rightly point out the matter of attitude. Both the employer and the employee need to reconsider their attitudes. The employer may add to disillusionment if they repress individuals irrespective of where they used to work. And the employee needs to come to terms with their new situation. Like any unwelcome personal change that may take time, support and encouragement.

    You ask about innovative ways to tackle this. Maybe the place to start is with the tried and tested: talking openly and constructively with people to seek an agreement about what both parties expect and are willing to do. In the words of Monty Roberts, if I’m not listening hard enough, the failure is mine. Firmness and flexibility; assertiveness and empathy; a focus on the future and a respect for the past. All these are key ingredients. Ultimately, of course, it takes two to tango and not everyone is willing to let go of their past in order to thrive in the present. Or they have behaviours that are so engrained that they don’t yet know how to change them.


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