If it Quacks Like a Duck...

"Jane, we're going to reassign your responsibilities on Project X to Tony.  You seem to have your hands full with Project Alpha, and it is critical that you're able to focus your attentions there and turn Alpha into a win."

"Justin, I'm going have the XYZ business unit report directly to me.  Phoebe, the general manager in XYZ, is ready for a promotion and I can't very well have a president reporting to a president."

Should Jane be worried?  Has Justin just passed the zenith of his career?

In my experience, the answer is an unequivocal YES!  Increasing scope and responsibility are the hallmarks of a career on the rise.  Decreasing scope and responsibility are certain indicators of decline.


In my more than twenty-five years in business, I've never seen an exception to this rule.  No matter what convenient story may be offered, no matter what excuses are made.

And while it doesn't necessarily mean that the end is inevitable, it should be a piercingly loud wake-up call telling you that you'd better turn things around fast.  Now.

So what should you do?

Never, ever argue about the decision.  It has already been made, discussed, vetted and approved, and no argument you can possibly make will reverse it now.  Arguing will just seem silly and childish, or possibly irritating.  Even a little is likely to anger your manager.

Instead, I recommend a three-fold approach.

1.  Turn on the afterburners.  Make sure that the turf you are still holding onto is managed to perfection.  Leave no stone unturned in your quest to succeed there.  No matter what else you do, if you fail with this you will be tossed out the door.

2.  Keep a watchful eye on how your former responsibility performs under new management, but be careful not to get overly aggressive pointing out mistakes.  You have to hope that the "newbie" does no better with it than you were doing -- at least that way it looks more like the position was the problem, rather than the person.

3.  Start looking.  You've already started down the slippery slope.  You'll land a better position on the outside if you leave on your own volition, rather than at the company's insistence.  You need a back-up plan because the future is, at best, uncertain. 

Read the actions, forget about the explanations.  If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck...odds are a duck is exactly what you've got.  11.6

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Novels: LEVERAGEINCENTIVIZE, and DELIVERABLES -- note, the ebook version of DELIVERABLES is on sale for a limited time at Amazon for $4.99.  These are all based on extensions of my basic experiences in the world of corporate management.