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Prepare For The Inevitable

Date - 19 July 2017/ Category - Volume 2
Volume 2

I was recently working on a project where one of the team members was told that he was being transferred to another office.

Not only is the office is in the same city and less than a mile away from the current one it’s actually a significant upgrade in terms of looks and age – for one thing it didn’t have damp like the current one!

You would therefore think that the move would be welcomed, but it wasn’t. You see the building they currently work in is a sales office and as such culture is quite an important thing despite the damp.

The sales teams are constantly being motivated and encouraged to act as a team, yet the opposite could be said of the newer building.

That one is an operations hub with row after row of desks and at least the perception that team spirit is a little bit lacking.

As a result of this reticence to move I found myself having a pep talk with the person in question to address their issues.

The first thing we talked about was who made the decision to move and why. The decision maker was the CEO, so in reality there’s not much chance of appealing up the chain of command to get a re-think and the reason was to set the individual up for a promotion (and future career path).

In this situation then the business reasons behind the move were actually a good ones and the reticence to move was purely based on perceived cultural differences. At this point it felt prudent to tell the individual about my cliff analogy.

Now moving offices might not seem that close to jumping off a cliff, but the metaphor is one of my favourites.

Imagine you’re in the heat of battle and your commander says “jump off that cliff”, do you or not? Of course many people assume they won’t but the fact is, in reality you’re going to have to carry out that order or face being shot.

In relation to being at work then, the chances of this individual getting the decision to move them reversed is low and as such this is the cliff, they are going to have to jump off it.

Here’s where the simple business lesson comes in. Most people will focus on the injustice of having to jump off the cliff instead of preparing for it.

You will see this up and down the country day after day where people don’t want to do something and dig their heels in.

When the time comes to jump off the cliff, something that’s inevitable, they do so desperately trying to cling onto the edge but ultimately fall into the abyss (and face whatever business consequences for their actions they encounter).

Yet the smart person reacts very differently. Of course you can question a decision, but once it becomes apparent that business is not a democracy and you are most definitely going to have to jump, you stop fighting and start to prepare.

Put simply it’s better to go off the cliff on your own terms than kicking and screaming – because how you reach the bottom matters.

It’s at this point that I explained to the team member that they should accept the move, and start looking for a parachute.

Again this might seem a bit of an odd metaphor but in reality it makes perfect sense – why go off a cliff kicking and screaming to your demise when you could spend the little time you have before jumping finding the best way down?

In business terms then, going off the cliff (or moving) on your own terms is a much better strategy than annoying those above you by complaining about the inevitable.

I told the team member to stop worrying about the negatives and start working on the positives. Ok so you don’t like sitting in rows of desks, why not ask to be seated with a different team or in your own department? Maybe you don’t like the working hours, so why not ask them to be more flexible?

When someone is asking you to do something they know you won’t like, they expect some sort of negotiation. I was once given some advice by a friend that had been made redundant; don’t fight the redundancy, accept it and negotiate, ask for more. You can’t stop the inevitable so accept it and prepare.

I love the cliff metaphor, in a fast changing world, it’s something that seems ever more relevant because how you come out of a situation is ultimately going to have a longer lasting impact than how you came to be in it!

Accept the inevitable and use it to your advantage.

Read our next blog post “Sometimes you’ll lose“.