Hammer Time


You may not be an architect, but with the right tools, you can help build the house.  So grab that hammer and get to work! 

That is, if you have one.  Metaphorically, we all need to have a hammer out there in Corporate America today.  Gone are the days of mid-to-upper level management jobs that are removed from the day-to-day action.  Everything is becoming more hands on.  Heed the call – there is wisdom here for both the employed who wish to remain employed as well as those who find themselves in a prolonged period of career transition.

What is it you do, really?

Let’s get down to basics.  What is it that you do, really?  Maybe you are an Engineering Director or an IT Manager in a company that continues to outsource.  How about a Sales Manager whose company keeps consolidating territories?  Or a Brand Manager who sees support positions dwindling by the second?  In today’s world, each of these positions increasingly distills down to its basic elemental structure.  Yes, it’s about the underlying skills that got you there.  It’s about dancing with the girl or guy you brought to the dance.

Closer to Home

Recently, I felt the tap on the shoulder to move from a Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) position to Controller within the same division of my company.  Let’s just say it’s a darn good thing I had that hammer.  Why?  Because I really needed it, and more importantly because my company expected to find it in my tool box.  In quite the flashback set of moments, seemingly all of a sudden, I am once again making journal entries, reconciling accounts, safeguarding assets, talking in account code strings, and submitting tax packages.  “Should we be subdividing the Other Liabilities account into more descriptive pieces?”, has resurfaced as a question of increased relevance.

Elemental Distillation

Yep, I still got it.  Whatever it is…..that certain accounting something……if nothing else, my hammer and few other tools that round out a functional value set for my employer.  Rediscovering that I can still rock the debits and credits in a well-credentialed controller crew is a good thing, as is bringing business-side financial knowledge to the position.  It should allow me to ultimately take the position in some new directions, while in the short-term providing an easier transition for my employer versus an external hire.  Quite a lot of words there.  Here’s the distillation update.  It’s about my fundamental accounting skills providing my employer with a solution…..and of course, dancing with the girl that I brought to the party in the first place.

Goldilocks & the C-Suite Shuffle

Moving away from my own story now and back to a key takeaway.   Have you met “Experienced” CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, and Sales VP’s who are in long-term career transition?  Of course not in every case, but at some point after a full cycle of one month+ off for every $10K of income, the market no longer sees them as VPs and Chiefs. Sure, some live off of nice severance packages for quite some time and land well. Countless others languish in the down-market rather than grabbing a hammer or related occupational implement and getting back to work.  It’s a bit of the Goldilocks Syndrome, but it can be about ego and not letting go of dated self-image.  Ultimately, it becomes about a decision to stay out of the game and wait it out on the side line, even though the skill-set distillation process yields immediately employable elements.

Better Days Ahead

As the market picks up, there’s definitely going to be more opportunity, but it will be different opportunity.  There’s been a tremendous amount of consolidation.  The underlying tools of the trade have become increasingly important.  To an increased extent, white-collar America now consists of largely carpenters and tradesmen.  Having the tools and being willing to use them is a necessary first step.  Then it becomes about layering on top the elements that theoretically should narrow the outsourcing gap.  Home field advantage should count for something, as represented by the underlying skill PLUS business knowledge, communication, and people skills.  It involves having a value package that ties up neatly and cleanly with the necessary ribbons and bows.  Although taking many forms, it ultimately comes down to being able to do something useful for an employer…..and continuing to renew one’s own occupantional vitality.

Photo credit – Frabel

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