Introduction The real world is full of top-notch opportunities for full-blooded professionals. Those who know such opportunities and are available to milk them, in good times, can also withstand any pressure of any recession when everyone feels the pressure. In particular, the 45+ age group of professionals, in the 2001 global crisis, after the twin towers attack in the USA and the massive recession that followed worldwide, were without jobs. How the smartest survived are case studies in themselves. This can happen at various levels. The most important lessons are a) Learn to add value every day b) Sharpen your saw through different experiences c) Know and keep in touch with professionals d) Shore up all finances right now and e) enter consolidating phase when you are 42. Each of these is discussed with reference to case studies and lessons from other experiences as well.
Learn to add value every day The biggest lesson that one can learn, even in these normal times, is to add value to the organization, every day. Every single organization in India looks for people who can cut down cost, almost everywhere. They look for people who can produce more, with less -- every day. They look for people who can slog it out for more than ten hours per day, seven days a week.
This is the new reality. Everything should be perfect. In the TVS group companies, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) practices, TQM (Total Quality Management) practices and Six Sigma are a way of life. Every executive is not only trained in these, those who practice these as a way of life and are smart in execution on the shop floor, are promoted fast and given additional responsibilities. In fact, the companies only look for engineers who are compatible with such kind of rigorous discipline, contributing to the world-class quality of products and services. Ditto at Mahindra and Mahindra, Tata Motors, Hero Honda, the Murugappa Group, MRF, and so on. In Finance, the professionals who introduce Activity Based Costing, for instance, are way ahead of those who do nothing. Corporate Office professionals are always on the move. They keep doing different things to add value. These are the professionals who stand out.
Irrespective of what you are, please do concentrate on adding such value. By doing so, you are insulating yourself from being chopped, when the bad times come.
Sharpen your saw through different experiences This is extremely important. You will do well to continuously update yourself. In HR, for example, there is a huge area called Competency-Based Management (CBM). This is a superb tool to measure competencies. Modern experiences like 360-degree appraisal are also very important. If you do not have experience in these concepts and their application, even take a dip in salary and go to another organization, where you can get this vital experience. Many organizations have already implemented the Balanced Scorecard and HR scorecard. If you do not these concepts and their practical application, you are likely to lose out.
In Finance, it is vital that you even work as a Fund Manager somewhere, in some good Mutual Fund, to know the nuances of the Capital Markets. Those who take a risk and get out of routine accounting jobs, are found to be smarter and are far better equipped than those who do not take any risk. Even a vital Corporate Sector experience is a must. In Marketing, a stint in advertising, public relations, client management, and supply chain management are very vital. In fact, Supply Chain Management is now emerging as a very vital discipline where the number of online players is growing day after day. This is similar to the Ola taxi business. A contract is signed between two parties who transport goods with each other. The trucks are aggregated, in thousands and the intermediate professional agency works like Ola. There is real-time monitoring of delivery, contingency plans and what not. The truck guys may not be able to charge exorbitant prices, but they still make a good profit on volumes. Ola taxi drivers may be a bit unhappy, but the customers are happy. Here, the customers are the two parties who sign up with the professional agency.
Even such experiences are bound to stand you in good stead.
Know and keep in touch with professionals The professional universe in every field is expanding so fast. Once you grow, online vehicles such as Linkedin, are bound to help you anytime. Once your contacts are firmly established, you can share views, professional ideas and so on. You are bound to benefit from such contacts when you meet such professionals personally in their offices or in conferences, seminars and so on. In fact, smart professionals follow this route to give a big fillip to their careers in the metros. Keep in touch with such a big group of professionals will help you to tide over any crisis, during the recessionary period. This threat is now real. If the China and US trade over goes beyond limits, the Indian companies will also be affected.
Shore up your finances right nowThis is a big imperative. If you start spending like there is no tomorrow, you will end up miserable, with nil savings when the bad times hit you. Remember, you should have a corpus that can take care of your EMI on all existing loans, for as many as 48 months, during which time, the good times will come back. In other words, only this corpus can help you.
Let us learn from this real-world case study. It is mentioned to learn the lessons.
In the post-2001 global attack, Girish (name changed) a Deputy Manager (HR) who had both the industrial relations experience and the high-end experience in HR sub-systems like Performance Appraisal, Potential Appraisal and so on, lost his job in a pharmaceutical organization in Chennai. His friend, Ganesh (name changed) also lost his job in Mumbai in a similar capacity in another pharmaceutical organization. Fortunately, both the wives had secure Government and leading private school jobs in Chennai. Ganesh came back from Mumbai(he was a married bachelor there, as his kid was just 18 months old), took a dip in salary, and entered a non-banking financial company as an HR executive. The position was the same, but he had enough scope to take on different roles in administration and finance. His MBA Finance qualification helped him. He was 40 when he lost his job, but when the recession was over, he was promoted as a Manager and further on as a Senior Manager. Girish also took a dip in salary and entered the corporate office of a leading company, a big player in cement.
Their dip in income was sought to be made up through tremendous cost-cutting. Both were neighbours and shared their vehicles to go to work. The ladies shared their vehicles too. All wants were put off. Every single item of expenditure was restricted. Both the HR guys survived the difficult times. Post-recession, Girish also quit joining as HR Chief in a company marketing spices and ready-made powders for various dishes. Only Girish had a housing loan. He was able to manage. The other fellow lived in a rented accommodation.
When the good times were back, the guys continued to save money. Within five years, Girish paid his housing loan in bulk and became debt free. It helped that his increments and bonus came in handy. He was professional in cost-cutting, along with his friend. Their yearly trips to their native villages, near Tirunelveli ( a district headquarters town in South Tamil Nadu), we're back. It does pay to pump in even the smallest amounts into recurring deposits or Systematic Investment Plans with Mutual Funds. When the boom period started, Girish's investment in a good UTI scheme, of Rs.40,000 fetched him good returns and he was able to manage the very costly school fees for his eighth standard son.
Save when the times are good. Do not overspend on foreign trips and so on. No one knows when the global shocks will hit us. The 2001 and 2008 crises, were both horrible in terms of the recession. We need to understand this.
Enter consolidating phase at age 42 This is very vital. Between 22 and 42, you have two decades of solid experience. You have the time to make this experience very valuable. Very value adding. If you do this, be prepared to spend the next twenty years in safe jobs, for the sake of children. It matters very little now. They would anyway stay in hostels. If they study in good colleges in cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkatta, Mumbai, Hyderabad and so on, get your wife to live there, possibly with some relatives. However, the safe zones are Senior Manager and above positions in HR, Finance, Supply Chain Management and so on, in Cement, Paper, or even big sugar companies or petrochemical companies. Remember, these jobs are all township companies, with good quarters, CBSE schools, even colleges, temples, and so on. The only drawback is that the nearest big city would be some fifty or more kilometres. Do not bother. This consolidating phase will help you. It is a sure insulation against any possible global shock and or recession. For, these companies always tend to retain people, even after the age of 65, as long as they add value. No matter what happens to the education of your children, such jobs are always very secure. The trick is to prepare yourself to reach such positions. Once you do well, you can happily settle down in such environs, where the dust and din of city life are zero.
Learn to make such good career changes. This will help you a great deal. Alternatively, you can try your hand in consulting services. The risk is that such services also face a big recession, as companies do the chopping on any such services when the times are bad.
Conclusion Some vital ideas of how to manage a mid-career crisis, when it comes, are discussed above. Be sure to prepare yourself for tough times, when the times are very good. This is a vital lesson that you should learn in life.
Don't be complacent with what you know and how you are working. Always keep a benchmark and reach the benchmark. Then further increase the benchmark to the next level keep taking actions to reach and one has to make this a continuous process. Adding new skills, new techniques and new qualifications to you is very important these days. This is very important for an employee who is in a private organisation and wants to improve continuously.
Be loving to your work but not to the organization. The work you are doing may fetch you a new job. But the company you are working may never keep you one day extra if they feel you are not delivering the goods. So make hay while the Sun shines. Earn during your enthusiastic and energetic age as much as possible so that you can be well off in your old days also.
The organisation however strong it may be in terms of productivity the employees are assessed in terms of their satisfactory performance and any shortfall in this parameter would make his job vulnerable and it has been seen on numerous occasions where an executive has been sacked in the lean period because of two factors, there is a recession in the market resulting in less demand of such products being produced in the industry or the executive failed to achieve the target.
Hence it should be the overriding priority of the employees to update the different parameters making him more efficient thus maximising his productional efficiency. The line managers are supposed to be familiar with each tool which can make him more demanding at all stages. Hence an employee should take every step to update his skill by understanding the new techniques prevalent in other industries and its adaptability may surge production.
The author has presented this article nicely giving valuable inputs in resolving the mid-term crisis.
By being an executive of a large organisation does not offer a guarantee for the smooth promotion. The days are very competitive in almost all industries requiring to horn skill of the employees so as to be familiar with all the connected tools.
This should be stepped up gradually and should ensure that all the parameters related to their jobs have been covered. There is the emergence of cost-cutting techniques in all the sectors so that profit can be maximised. Such familiarity will help the practising managers to be successful in their enterprise even in the lean period since they can plug the unwanted areas where the investments by the industry can be curtailed in order to optimise production.
Overhaul the presentation is nice incorporating tips to resolve the mid-term - crisis.
An exhaustive and well-presented article suggesting ways to avoid mid-career crisis.
There is no substitute for hard work and it is true in every situation. When a person climbs his career in an organisation, a time comes when he starts feeling that enough is enough and now he should take some breathing time for himself and for his hobbies or other indulgences. This brings in a type of complacency in his approach and that is the starting point of the crisis.
Every day in the workplace is a new start and one can not deduce that if one has done more work yesterday, today will be an easy day. It is not like that.
Today we are working in the automated and computerised offices where there is no delay in transmission or other office bottlenecks and things are moving through emails and electronic messengers and you have everything in hand to make decisions and move forward. Any laxity on the part of the employee is seen as a lapse by the management.
There is no other way to survive in our career except working hard.
It happens in most of the organizations not only TATA or M&M. When you enter the age of 42 your salary becomes high but your work seems to be ordinary like an executive or a senior executive. In order to show that you are above them, you need to possess some special skills.
I would suggest one should always check on the internet or at another source to enhance skills to survive in this competitive world. Management always tries to cut the cost and they always check from time to time that the salary they are paying to their employee is as per their skills and knowledge. I have been working in an MNC and have been experiencing the same and have seen management asking people to enhance their skills because otherwise will have lesser appraisals than the normal employee.