It is both a custom and a natural human impulse at this time to reflect on the year that was and to commit to certain life changes in
the year ahead. As a practice, it is not a bad one. It is one of the
few opportunities most people will allow themselves to make critical
self-assessments and to do something about them.
Now is the ideal time for a stocktake of areas for personal
improvement, challenges to master and ambitions to be realised.
Unfortunately, most new-year resolutions tend not to go beyond the
usual fripperies - vows to join a gym, eat less and moderate any
number of personal vices. Even such low-barrier resolutions will go by
In this era of "continuous change", the irony is that most people find
personal adjustments the most difficult to make. This spells danger in
the current volatile environment when most managers will need to
contemplate real change and genuine renewal if they are to avoid
personal and career disaster.
Managers who in good times have made it a priority to hone their
skills, develop personally and professionally, and continually renew
and adapt to changing conditions, will be the ones who shine in the
economic turbulence ahead.
During the past decade or so, managers have been routinely called on
to implement organisational change. Some of this change has reflected
real shifts in working practices, competitive environments and
technological advances. Much change has been cynical and opportunistic
as organisations squeeze greater productivity from fewer resources.
Those resources are set to become fewer still.
Whatever the forces pushing change since the 1990s, many managers have
been found wanting. Fortunately for them, it has been easy for
mediocre managers to go along for the ride irrespective of their
effectiveness in the preceding period of prosperity.
It will be a different story in the coming year as the economic crisis
claws its way through workplaces across the country. Managers, many of
them untested in a serious downturn, will be more accountable as
greater reliance is placed on their management and leadership skills.
In 2009, there will be no place to hide. As the economy slides and
consumer confidence tumbles, workplaces will be characterised by mass
layoffs, workplace bitterness and anxiety, stalled careers and
heightened performance expectations. Managers who don't rise to the
challenges will be deemed expendable because in this environment they
will be expected to perform.
So make those resolutions for personal change and renewal count. And
this time the resolve had better hold.
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