Last week, I found out about a wholesale restructuring where I used to work. Well I guess I didn’t just work there. I lived and breathed the place. I poured into it my passion and workaholic tendencies, and idealism and zeal to help people realize their potential. I took things way too seriously at times. Peers would say to me, “Y’know, it’s just a job.” But it never was for me. It was a vocation. A calling. A chance to make a difference. How could we help employees to understand the big picture? Through change? How could we communicate creatively with various stakeholders to show we were listening? This was only one of the areas that I ran, but I loved it.
When you leave a place, even if you’ve been a big kahuna, you realize that you may have done legendary things (not all good) and you may have wielded real power, but you now are about as substantial as ether. At best, you hope that you helped to move a strategy or two along, that you influenced people to strive for more, to achieve more. You hope that you led by example, and shared that the essence of communication was listening, even if you fell off the wagon now and then as a talkative extravert. But all in all, it is as if you evaporate into thin air. In a way, it’s like the workplace evaporates as well for you. I left last summer and I don’t even think of it most days.
But to find out that an entire division with everything related to communication – my first profession – was decimated, with fine people who have worked their hearts out for the organization left dangling and wondering if they even have a job … some found out about the changes in a meeting with others present. There is no senior executive responsible for communications who understands it or champions it. All of which calls into question whether the previous executive (me) responsible for this area had any influence at all. I feel culpable for these peeps. They are not mine anymore. I can’t do anything but serve as a sounding board and remind them of how good they are, how politics come and go. Senior leaders change and new things are birthed, other things are let go. Flux is normal.
Ironically, reputation management, internal communication and change are more valued now than ever in progressive companies. Kudos to them.