“AT&T cuts workforce by 14%, adds services.” That front-page headline in USA Today was the topic of conversation at a recent executive member meeting of the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals. A number of the attendees had brought their complimentary copies of the newspaper to read at breakfast preceding the plant tour portion of the meeting. It didn’t take long for the conversation to get around to re-engineering, downsizing, rightsizing, or whatever staff reductions in middle management ranks are called these days.
After the sarcastic comments about the word “invigorate” used in the first sentence of the article, talk turned to personal experiences. “Many of us who are left,” volunteered one member, “feel somewhat guilty for being here.” Another acknowledged that a round of layoffs quickly changed his focus from managing maintenance operations to managing his retirement portfolio. Most everyone knew of competent managers who had been terminated. The companies that chop into the marrow of their maintenance operations will certainly not be “invigorated” when it comes to the reliability of their equipment assets.
Although the need for equipment reliability or maintenance can never be re-engineered out of an enterprise, traditional maintenance departments and their managers certainly can be. That is the new reality.
What we are hearing is the giant sucking sound of slack being extracted from the global economy, says Tom Peters, the well-known and unconventional management consultant. I had an opportunity to hear him recently in a daylong seminar expounding on “The Circle of Innovation,” also the title of his new book.
Peters suggests that to survive and prosper without getting sucked out of the picture, you must approach your job and career as if you are a professional service firm (PSF) of one. Once you adopt the PSF model as your approach to work, you should also evaluate the brand equity of your personal PSF. He suggested a number of evaluation points including: I am known for (2-4 items) and by next year at this time I plan also to be known for (1-2 items); my current project is provocative or challenging me in the following (2-4 ways); and my r,sum, is specifically different than last year’s at this time in the following (1-3 ways).
Your resume, Peters says, should be a marketing brochure for your personal PSF. Have you updated yours lately? MT
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