I like Ron Johnson. And judging from some of the comments on his work, a lot of other people do. It’s hard to see someone who comes into a job with so much enthusiasm, to get told in not so many words, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
But out he is, and it got us to thinking, what could that mean to the average worker? I mean, most of us if we lose our jobs, it’s certainly not in a public firing, but it hurts just the same.
What lessons can be learned here for you, Job Search Superstars, to put into play in your own life?
1. Be careful of over-enthusiasm. Sometimes, in an effort to do a good job, we bring habits from a former position, relationship or idea, into play into something current…………That does not always work. As we saw with Mr. Johnson’s attempt to remake a staid JC Penney, bringing over his ideas from his Apple days, did not necessarily translate into success at JCP.
2. Plan, Plan, Plan. Most critics of Ron Johnson say it was not his ideas that were at fault, but his execution. IMHO, I agree. I watched week to week, on pins and needles, hoping to see some success, so that the money and time spent on saving JC Penney was actually a save and not a loss. Now we know, for the most part, it was a loss. Because there was no plan, no test to see if ideas were actually feasible before implementation, all that work was for naught. The Lesson: Plan your ideas carefully, rather than just think they’ll work because you say they’ll work.
3. Watch the people who encourage you to make a move, when you suspect it’s not in your best interest. I have to say, one quality I admire about executives, is that there is no loyalty. When a CEO or plan of action at a company is not right for them, they’ll move on. This is what happened at JCP. My understanding is that some who were initially under Ron Johnson were either fired or left on their own…..Smart. When things aren’t working, cut your losses and move. which leads us to our 4th point……….
4. Watch the folks who actually put this bad move into play. Famed hedge fund investor Bill Ackman, who has always struck me as a bit of an ass, http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2013/04/bill-ackman-dan-loeb-herbalife was the man who initiated this installation of Ron Johnson as the new CEO of JC Penney. I don’t know their relationship, but I laughed and at the same time was miffed at how Bill Ackman encouraged this move to JCP and initiated what I see as a losing proposition. The takeaway: Know the motives, mindset and goals of the folks who push you to do something. Their true motivations may not match up with yours. And if you have to take the hit, you might be by yourself, as Johnson found out the hard way.
5. CYA. Even if you’re a corporate employee and not some executive big wig, you need to act like you’re a small business and an executive in your own right. Because in reality you are. You are responsible for your own success. You are responsible for evaluating whether opportunities are right for you or if you should pass. We don’t always do a good job of this, or even see the “enemy” coming, in the form of a dead-end job or a straw position, or the like, but in the end, whether we get what we want out of life or not, is usually up to us, and no amount of excuses will do. As they say in business, all success needs no explanation, but all failures usually come with a million excuses.
It’s your job to look out for you.
Part 2 Next Week