Career Strategy Lessons from Peyton Manning

Fast Company magazine recently had an article (http://www.fastcompany.com/1823573/career-strategy-peyton-manning-release-from-the-colts) concerning career strategies in light of football quarterback Peyton Manning’s change in teams.  As all people who follow football know, Peyton Manning was one of the best quarterbacks of our time, and perhaps one of the all-time greats who has played the game.  Arguably, he resurrected the dormant football team, and is one of the most beloved players in the game today.

As is the nature of professional sports, no matter how talented and successful a player is, at some point  a team will shift focus onto new players, who will hopefully lead the franchise into a successful future.  Anyone who has followed sports over the last couple of months is fully aware that Peyton Manning is now the quarterback of the Denver Broncos.  The article uses Manning’s example as a basis for some good career strategies for people currently in the workforce.

1.  Everyone is Replaceable

As soon as people realize that they can be replaced, they are most likely to be progressive and keep moving in their jobs.  Not necessarily bouncing around job to job, but rather learning new skills and taking on more duties and responsibilities.  Organizations will merge and acquire others, and any individual may end up being replaced or a casualty of downsizing.  As soon as each worker realizes this, they can position themselves to be possibly reassigned within the company due to their diverse, in-demand skills, or be able to bounce back in another organization because they took steps to keep advancing their skills in order to be more marketable.

2.  Be Prepared

Simply because an individual has a current position and seems safe, change can be swift.  Within the last couple of years, our IT department experienced a combination of rapid growth and some re-organizing.  Prior to this, change seemed to move at glacial speeds.  I cannot remember how many times we were requesting more positions to meet the rapid growth of the college, but were unsuccessful.  Suddenly, positions were moving around, a couple analysts were moved out of the department entirely, positions were created, and many were promoted into newly created higher-level positions.  This change-over was extremely positive as we did not have to downsize.  Over the last five years, the news has been focused on many companies downsizing or shifting manufacturing overseas, each of which seemed to negatively impact domestic workers.  The moral of the story is that no matter how good things seem at the moment in any given job, the tide of change can come quickly and without warning.  For those who are always prepared by having updated resumes, taking professional development classes, or simply maintaining a professional network can be quick to recover from professional setbacks.  One worker constantly takes classes, studies other job functions, takes on more responsibility will most likely be the one to get a raise or promotion over a worker who has stagnated in their current job.  Be prepared and have a plan of action that will be a vehicle for advancement or rebounding from a setback.

3.  Realize You and the Company are Different Entities

Any company or organization will do whatever is required to remain solvent and in operation.  This may include downsizing jobs due to over-growth or bad planning, or in some cases, replacing a founding CEO by the board of directors (i.e., Steve Jobs with Apple prior to the phenomenal surge over the last decade).  It is important to take pride in the place where you work, and through dedication and extra efforts, all can achieve varying degrees of success.  At the end of the day people need to understand the company makes decisions that will benefit the organization before the individuals working for it.  The article suggests everyone should “keep a healthy separation in your mind between who you are and who you work for.”

4.  Stay Classy

It seems rather obvious to not burn bridges when leaving a company.  It should be common sense, but sometimes is easy to forget.  People may end up viewing themselves as a victim and may desire to lash out at their former employer.  In the age of social media, this is all too easy.  An individual may be let go, and as soon as they get home, they may post venomous remarks directed at their former employer for being rotten to the core, or even targeting individuals such as the CEO, executive management, or even co-workers.  I have read many articles over the last year or so documenting how people can lose out on an opportunity due to a poor or negative online presence.  When applying for a new position, the hiring managers can easily perform a quick search for possible candidates.  If an individual has on their Facebook profile pictures of irresponsible behavior, this could factor that into the hiring decision.  If in an interview, when the candidate states glowing or positive remarks about their former employer, only to have a bunch of Twitter, blogs, or Facebook rants about them, what type of image would this portray to a potential hiring organization?  The best practice anyone can do is to be positive, and to take the high road at all times.  The organization or company may be at fault or deserving of scathing criticism by former employees, but if someone can take the high road, it will only benefit them over time.  Someone with a reputation for being professional and classy will most likely always be in demand.

2 thoughts on “Career Strategy Lessons from Peyton Manning

  1. Manning is quite classy…kind of like a “Tebow” in training. No, not really in the same way.

  2. Maintaining good relationships with former colleagues/directors, organization leaders is SO important ( not just classy) – often future opportunities can open (or close) contingent upon their input (& not just the folks listed on your CV!

    Well said post! (now let’s see if Peyton Manning still has some good football days left in him! : )

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