June 25, 2007
Watch Your Back When
the Turnaround Specialist Shows Up
You do what?
“I’m a turnaround specialist. I’m called in when companies are in
trouble, and I turn them around.”
Wow. That sounds like a
hard job! You must be a genius!
Ah. That’s what they want you to think. The turnaround specialist has
set himself up as an amazingly talented Houdini who can pull seemingly
doomed companies out of the jaws of the market beast. Why do you need
him? Because he’s a specialist! If it wasn’t so hard to do, anyone could
do it, and you wouldn’t need him.
I’m on to his scam. He is not a genius. He is an opportunist in a
no-lose situation. If all the CEOs in America understood how this works,
they would all resign from their jobs tomorrow and get turnaround gigs.
This would of course create an incredible market opportunity, as all
their former companies would theoretically start tanking without their
expert leadership, and they would need to ride in on white horses as
turnaround saviors. (Of course, a few of the companies might be better
off without their CEOs. No. Wait. That can’t be true.)
Here is why the turnaround specialist has it made:
The company is
already failing. If it ultimately fails, no one can blame him.
He can do
absolutely anything he wants, and no one can get mad. All he
has to say is, “Do you want me to keep doing the stupid crap they
did before I got here?” What can anyone say? He can fire everyone.
He can eliminate the coffee budget. He can make you work at a coffee
table. You just have to sit there and take it.
He gets to call
banks who are waiting for money and tell them they’re not getting
all of it, so they will have to make a deal. That’s the most
important part of his job. Of course, a close second is . . .
and telling them they have to cut their prices, or they will lose a
Most of the time,
it isn’t even the company that’s paying him. It’s either a huge
customer, which can’t be without the parts the struggling company
makes, or a huge creditor that knows the worst-case scenario is for
the company to go completely belly-up – at least before said huge
creditor gets paid off.
And since it’s not the company who pays the turnaround specialist, it’s
not the company whose interests the turnaround specialist is really
there to serve. It’s the customer or creditor whose interest in seeing
the company stay alive is entirely self-serving.
if your executive vice president calls a meeting one day, announces that
the CEO has been escorted out of the building by security, but not to
worry because a turnaround specialist has been called in to fix
everything, here are a few survival tips:
Remember on the
“X-Files” when the shadowy conspirators made a deal to help the
aliens so they wouldn’t annihilate them – like they would everyone
else – when they invaded the planet? Something like that might work.
Name names and tell the bloodsucker where the bodies are buried, and
he might give your resume to well-connected friends after you become
the last person he offs. Never watched the “X-Files”? Rent the DVDs.
Tell the turnaround
guy you are in charge of office supplies. He will need those, so
you’ll buy yourself some time. Then tell him the old CEO was always
making you buy way too many, and you wished he would stop. Hatchet
Man will like you.
Offer to digitize
all the bank statements Hatchet Man is always sifting through.
Estimate how long it will take and multiply it by five, then tell
him you’re working on it for him as hard as you can. Around the time
you know he’s going to ask again how it’s coming, bring him
something to drink. Oh, by the way, don’t actually work on it at
all. He’s going to fire you anyway.
Finally, track down the old CEO and see what he’s up to. CEOs can never
help themselves from jumping back in, and this one apparently spent
money like a drunken sailor anyway, so maybe he will give you a job with
the “new venture” he is surely undertaking.
That should buy you some time until you can find a real job, or until
Hatchet Man shows up once again, pretending to be a genius. And once
again, you pretend to believe it.
© 2007 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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