Everyone should get retrenched at least once in your working life

Work Retrenchment is Career Renewal in Disguise

Retrenchment is no respecter of people. It can happen to anyone at any stage in their career.

Retrenchment may be the best thing that happens to your career. It forces you to focus on renewal and break out of your comfort zone. There are hardly people who suffer from permanent depression due to retrenchment. More than 60% of the people who were retrenched can re-employed within 6 months according to the data provided by the government as of March 2019. Almost 5 years ago, this is almost 70%. This breakthrough will only happen if one realizes the art of career renewal before and after retrenchment

Retrenchment rose in Q1 of 2019, especially in the manufacturing sector shows that the pace of digital transformation is accelerating in jobs involving repetitive tasks. Retrenchment by itself is not a bad thing if you dig deep to find new meaning and calling for your career. Before you experience a breakthrough in your career, there will be chaos. The current turmoil in our job always prepares better for the future.

Retrenchment can happen not because we are not relevant to the demand of the industry and the company. Sometimes it is due to lack of foresight by the management. It can be due to cost cutting or change of strategic direction of the company. Retrenchment can happen even if we have done our best. Our main task is to be ready when it happens and move onto the next suitable job for us.

There are several valuable lessons in every retrenchment to renew our career more robustly for the future. How can we be better prepared for retrenchment even when we are always upgrading ourselves, enlarging our network and looking out for opportunities?

1. Forget about the future of the current job, instead focus on the jobs of the future.

Every professional will be a multi-disciplinary professional with multiple core competencies and skillset. We will be ready for a convergence and divergence way of problem-solving. Creativity and Innovation Management will become the standard culture in every innovative company. The nature of many jobs will be transformed by customer expectation and technological advance. There will be new jobs created for the future. Get yourself ready for those jobs today by learning new skills and knowing new people regularly. Spend an hour a day learning something new. It can be reading a blog, watching a video, talking to an expert, attending a forum, etc.

2. Appreciate that Artificial Intelligence doesn’t replace jobs; it replaces tasks.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science that describes the research and development of simulated human intelligent behavior in machines. Machines today can act and think as humans do. Therefore, any repetitive tasks, cognitive or otherwise will be replaced as we speak. No technology can replace your job if there is a high level of human touch involved. If your positions are full of tasks, then retrenchment is just a matter of time. Learn the ways of AI, explore ways to improve it instead of competing with it. We need to constantly find new meaning and create new value in our current jobs so that we can continue to do the same in our future jobs.

3. Process Data instead of just producing data

The emergence of AI in recent years is fueled by supercomputers with incredible computing powers and the growth of big data. Learn to see recurring patterns in your data. Draw a new conclusion from specific trends. Create predictive analytics for your work. Process data intelligent before data pushes us out of a job inevitably. The data is the experience. Processing data is learning from experience to predict the future. Insights from data can always be applied to other jobs. Data set is the basis of Machine Learning. If we master the art of working with data, we can build more intelligent AI-driven applications which in turn can collect more data in any jobs we are in.

4. Job 4.0 includes managing people, machines, chatbot, and robots.

The leadership of the future involves setting the vision for transformation and disruption. It requires a new approach to manage diversity and resolve conflict. It is the conflict that arises between human and algorithms. The future of leadership involves forging collaboration between national language processing by AI and human communication. Learn to speak the language of the future before others do. Learn to be a more effective leader today even if there is no one reporting to you. Self-leadership is the best leadership for the future. It enables us to be resilient regardless of position and prospect.

5. Customer demand; not technology drives digital transformation

If the customer wants drives sales, then their needs will promote innovation. The customer persona is always evolving due to the accessibility of content online and promotion. Talk to customer often to derive future demands. Create products and services for the future hey didn’t even know they need now. Find a new problem before anyone does. When you are the first problem finder, you are likely to become the primary solution provider. Digital Transformation starts with customers. Technology is just a means to the end. Stop chasing technological advance. Focus on evolving customer demands.

6. Focus on Coaching and Mentoring instead of Training

Training may help us to increase our knowledge and enhance our skills. To be future ready, a change of attitude and mindset is the utmost importance. Companies need to move from practicing Training Needs Analysis to Attitude Needs Analysis. Change our perspective of the present so that we prepare for the adversity of the future. All managers of today must be competent in coaching and mentoring their team to be future-ready from within. Coaching is about uplifting performance. Mentoring is about uplifting personal development. Training alone will not make us relevant in the future. It needs to blend with frequent coaching and mentoring.


Upgrading is not enough, we need to uplift our resilience level if one day we are retrenched.

Retrenchment may be a culture in many companies as digital transformation becomes a given norm. We must consistently be transforming ourselves to renew our career. Besides keeping up with technology, we need to be more proactive in embracing our company vision and mission. We need to challenge every rule of the past. We need to raise our game in our domain by doing thing differently. Challenging every rule and raising our game will enable us to create new competition. Retrenchment may be a disaster to some but a significant renewal to many.

Author — Andrew Chow, a professional speaker, and consultant for disruption.



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Andrew Chow

Social Media Strategist. PR Practitioner. Pro Speaker & Trainer. Author of Social Media 247. Biz Award Winners. Enneagram Coach. Brand Ambassador. Singapore