Company values have changed and I was not consulted
Today we have a question from Mike. This is a clear question and I’m pretty sure I answered a similar question not so long ago, but let’s jump into Mike's question for today. Thanks, Mike, for this amazing question. So, your question was:
“I am an INFP, and have been working for a company for over a decade. Now they have been taken over by another, bigger company. The values of the company have changed, and the management has taken the new values onboard, but they do not suit me. We, the employees, were not consulted. The decided upon values were simply sent to us as an email. Everything around me is changing. I don't know if I should leave or stay, as getting another job in my field is difficult. What can I do?”
That’s a fantastic question, and I just want to say, well done for looking at the situation by asking “what can I do?” because sometimes, when we’re faced with unexpected changes in our lives, we feel like we’re backed into a corner.
Before I answer what you could do from my perspective, I want to say that change, especially unexpected change, is hard. I'm sorry that you’re having to go through this kind of thing that’s being put upon you. It can feel very dis-empowering. Effectively, what the employer is asking of you, is to take responsibility for the practicalities of the change, without giving you any control over the change. That is the definition of disempowerment: it’s like “I’m responsible but I have no power.” I want to be really clear on that as a starting point. Well done, Mike, for acknowledging that you’re feeling disempowered and that the situation isn’t feeling right for you. Great realization.
I’m an INFJ and a business owner- and have been for quite some time, since 2003. As a person who has predominantly worked with, and employed, and partnered up with INFJs and INFPs, I can tell you that this is not how I would have dealt with the change. What I would have done - and have done - is the following:
1. Share the new vision with the employees and ask for their questions, concerns, or comments on it, so that it’s very clear what the vision and direction of the company is if it changes. The bonus of doing it that way is that there may be something that I am overlooking, and the employees might have practical applications on how to plan the road to the vision and direction differently. So, ask for feedback from employees, not that they have a say on what my vision and direction is, but because if I don’t ask for their input I might be losing out on something I need to know, and also if you want your employees to feel included in the journey to the vision and direction, I need to share it when it changes. It’s just that simple.
2. The second thing to do is respond to all of the employees' questions, comments and concerns, and address those before asking them to subscribe to the new vision and direction. The fact of the matter is that the new vision might not be right for them, and that’s ok.
3. Harness the employees natural powers by asking them what they’re good at and how they want to help get to the new vision and direction. Treat the people with respect, and treat them like they’re an important part of the vision and direction because they are! Hiring and training are some of the biggest expenditures in business, and the people on your team or staff are already amazing assets, unless of course, they’re not performing. But that’s another issue. So, harness the employee’s natural talents and engage their natural enthusiasm for reaching that vision and direction.
4. Make sure to offer additional support throughout the period of change. Change can take months, or years, or weeks, depending on the size of the team, time zones. For example, my team members are all in different time zones, so our transitional phase could take a little longer because we can’t all necessarily be on all the calls. Those are the kinds of things I would have done, and have done in the past in this kind of situation.
I am sharing this with you because I want you to know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with how you’re dealing with this change. You might be wondering if you’re crazy, are you being too entitled, or whatever. If you are, don’t worry about that right now. Just know that it’s completely ok for you to feel this way.
What you do about this is, of course, the next thing to consider.
Usually what happens in big businesses is that the leadership sees an issue coming up. It might be an acquisition, or a merger, it might be a change in the market positioning, it could be a pandemic! They might see things coming that the employees may not see. The leadership might have to pivot the business in a way that makes sense to them. They may decide to cut one arm of the business to continue to feed the heart of the business. So there might be a couple of things going on in the background that employees might not be aware of. At this stage of change when things are happening at that big picture level, the leadership does not usually consult the employees, because perhaps it’s premature, or it might not happen, or there might be considerations around confidentiality. There could be any number of reasons why the leadership is not consulting the employees at that stage. They see something coming and speculate about what to expect. To confuse the mind of the employee at that stage can create other kinds of practical considerations for the business. It can also cause the employees a lot of distress. There’s a conversation about why leaders and managers get paid more than employees. I know from having been in the leadership role for a long time that there’s a lot of stress that employees simply don’t need. The leader is almost like a bumper between unknowns and the stressors that are happening in the world, and the employees job. So you’re like a little buffer zone.
Getting back to Mike’s situation: what they did was they actually sent you an email stating what had been done, and off you go! That’s a whole different circumstance that you’re in. They didn’t consult you at any stage. They had made the decision already and at that stage they should have taken those steps that I was outlining before. And they didn’t do that.
What’s extra confusing in your situation is that you had bought into the company’s old vision and direction, they then changed it, and didn't communicate it to the employees. So you may have subscribed to the company culture in the past but which now may have changed completely. Legally, the employers don’t have to consult the employees about any of these changes unless, of course, there’s a specific union regulation or there are legal issues that are being crossed. In those cases you should be consulted. But, legally, they’ve done nothing wrong, if they haven’t crossed any legal boundaries. Morally, however, we could argue, and I would certainly argue, that they did the wrong thing by not even giving you a heads up that changes were coming, that they didn’t engage you in the process of the change.
Depending on how big your company is it can be hard, BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE, for all employers to keep the employees up to date, ask questions, and check in with them throughout the change cycle. Many leaders simply overlook the need for the employees to communicate about change, and then the employees are left to deal with it. This is what I understand your situation to be.
Both ignorance and lack of care for the employees is very costly because hiring and training are so costly. If a leader had foresight about the problems that could arise from not communicating they might have done things differently.
So, you may have a challenge to wrap your head around this change, because it is both personally hurtful, as in, personally, you feel not considered, and it also may not make any sense to you. You might understand that it’s more costly for them to alienate their employees than to keep them up to date and to enroll them, so to speak, in the new vision and direction of the company culture.
Now, to answer what you can do about it. Most often we feel our backs are against the wall and we don't have a choice in this kind of situation. Most often we do have a choice but we don't see it. That’s why I love that you asked what you can do! When we feel under pressure, we can begin to think in very black-and-white ways: Either I have to shut up and simply put up with the situation, or I have to leave. But there are other things that you could be doing.
Let's look at what you can do to help your situation right now.
1. Look at employment opportunities elsewhere. I always keep options open. I have my own business but I’m always open to a really interesting project that’s coming my way, or maybe somebody wants to work with me for a period of time. I always keep my options open for those things, as well as continuing to run my business. So, when you’re employed, keep your options open. Once a month, or once every three months or six months, look at the options that are out there for you. If you find that there is nothing suitable for you, maybe because you would need to have a higher level of education, or perhaps the role just isn’t right for you, then
2. Consider what additional skills you can create in the next 6 months to a year to put yourself in a better position to be hireable by other companies.
Employment was always considered as the safe option, but it's not necessarily that way anymore. Things change so quickly in business and in life and if you are entrepreneurial, or you are willing to learn, it can be safer to have your own company and run it the way that you want to. I’m all for that! I’m not a very employable person because I want what I want, and I’m not willing to compromise on that anymore in my main vocation.
If leaving is not an option for you, and you HAVE to stay at the job, look for ways to nurture your soul’s desires outside of the job and put your passion there. Maybe that’s your family, or your hobby. Make sure that you have that passion and meaning in some other area. If you genuinely cannot get out of the current situation, then learn to make the most of it. Ask yourself questions such as: “What is good about this job? Am I getting a steady paycheck? Are there people there that I’m getting along with? What do I appreciate about this job? Has it given me an opportunity to buy my house and have that stability? Did it give me an opportunity to have kids, or a dog, or any other opportunity that’s important to me?”
When you ask these questions you’re starting to look for the good in the job even though the job is not exactly fulfilling your soul’s purpose. So, ask what do you like? What has come about from having had that job? And also, what don't I already know about this situation, this change, from the perspective of the manager/leadership? Just getting that clarity might give you some comfort. Maybe they had to make this decision so that all could keep their jobs. Maybe that is going on underneath this.
Asking questions can be very powerful, because the more we know, the more we understand. I wonder if instead of thinking about leaving, or not leaving, the company, you could ask yourself: “What questions do I need to ask to understand the bigger picture better.” If the leadership was not forthcoming with their communication, you still can be forthcoming, and be the best version of yourself. They don’t have power over you.
Your life is for you, and you must make the decisions that are right for you, If you are serious about changing your situation I encourage you to get in touch with us at email@example.com . We have helped hundreds of INFs over the years to become more vocationally satisfied, or even to find a new career. The Myers-Briggs tool is perfect, especially the Global Step II assessment, for defining what your natural strengths are. If you are thinking about changing career, get in touch with us!
I would love to hear your own stories and experiences with navigating workplace changes. Please leave a comment below, or share this blog post with your friends to start a conversation with them.
Thank you for sharing this space with me, and thank you for being a part of our vision of creating more compassionate and effective individuals and leaders all around the world.
Have a day full of wonder.
I’m Merja Sumiloff. I’m the Personality Decoder and I show my clients and people who come to me