Once You’ve Been King — It’s Hard to Become a Prince

Posted on

There are several scenarios where you may have once been a king and then find yourself in the role of a Prince. Let’s take a look at three of them.

o The company is sold

o The demotion

o The career change.

The Company is Sold

So you sold your company and the new owners want you to stick around and run it for a couple of years. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that nothing has changed. Everything has changed. You don’t own it anymore. You will find it extremely difficult to watch change that is initiated as a result of the sale. Change initiated by someone else. You are no longer the king. You no longer have final say. You have to answer to someone else. This can be a traumatic experience. Things will occur that you disagree with but can not do anything about. This in itself can become extremely frustrating.

Don’t believe that age old lie that is often spread by an acquiring company —- “Nothing will change”. That’s a bunch of hog wash. Things will change; some for the better some not. The difference is that you no longer control that change. Oh, they may tell you that you are still in charge. And you may very well be in charge of the everyday mundane occurrences. But, make no mistake; you no longer own the strategic vision. You no longer have the ultimate say for the strategic direction of the company.

Can you handle that? Most can’t. That is why the majority of former owners that stay on with the acquiring company usually don’t last through the original agreed time period. The reason is simple.

“Once you’ve been King – It’s hard to become a Prince.”

The Demotion

Being demoted is an emotional experience for anyone. The methodology and tactics used to demote someone vary tremendously based on the reasons for the demotion. The reasoning behind a demotion often dictates the eventual result of that demotion. First of all, it is arguably the most difficult decision to make work regardless of the circumstance. Statistical surveys tell us that the majority of employees that are demoted end up leaving the company or being terminated by the company within six months of the demotion.

The reason for these statistics is very understandable. A demotion can easily produce the results totally contrary to your intentions. . You could produce a disruptive, ineffective, disgruntled employee, who begins to cause all sorts of problems after being demoted, including:

o Becoming hostile and unproductive

o Constantly complaining and sabotaging team efforts

o Poisoning the thoughts of coworkers and perhaps driving out your top performers.

o Quitting without noticed

Depending on the reasons for a demotion, different types of transition and corrective actions are dictated. Is the demotion strictly related to business economics beyond the individual’s control? Is demotion a result of a performance issue? Is the demotion related to the “Peter Principle” where this employee had been previously promoted beyond their abilities and competence? Is it an attitude problem? The act of demoting someone rarely ever corrects performance or attitude issues.

Think very hard before you decide to demote someone. Chances are you are better off terminating the individual. You may be wiser to lay them off or fire them rather than demote them. The future of someone that has been demoted is generally very limited. Their career aspirations, attitude and ego are often tied to their position in the hierarchy. At the very least, offer them the opportunity to resign. It may be in their best interest as well as yours.

The Career Change

You just weren’t happy doing what you were doing. So you decide to make a career change. You may even decide to further your education first. However, you’re not a rookie. You have been a member of the workforce for at least ten years. The problem is that you just didn’t enjoy the type of work you were doing.

However, you are resilient, a hard worker with great references and you quickly find another job totally unrelated to the work you had been doing for the past ten years. Watch out. Life is not always simple. You have scar tissue and experience but it doesn’t count for much in your new career. You are a rookie starting over. Don’t expect the same level of recognition or respect that you earned in your previous career. You are starting over and often times that means starting at the bottom.

Don’t wear your ego on your sleeve and have an open mind. Remember, that new coworker may be five to ten years your junior but in the realm of direct experience he may have tens years of training and on the job learning on you. He can help you.

Recognize that you must adjust your attitude to accept your new position and rank.

Remember ……. “Once you’ve been King — It’s hard to become a Prince.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *