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Resolve to survive

Resolve to survive

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.

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

the wayside.

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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