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Layoffs: 10 tips for mid-level managers

January 23, 2015 08:59 IST

Tell yourself clearly that if you have to be in the IT industry, you will have to do coding and testing; else you will be out of the industry. It will take some time, but you can adjust. It is a mind game. You have to play with your mind, says Pramod Kumar Srivastava

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/

As if TCS layoffs stories were not enough, there is other bombshell news appearing in the media about the uncertain future for thousands of middle managers in the Indian IT industry. Various IT organisations are seriously contemplating to cut their middle flab from the pyramid.

The worst affected will be managers having 5 to 15 years of work experience, who are not doing any real work -- coding and testing and hence are not earning for the organisation.

Let us analyse:

It is a fact in Indian IT industry. After gaining experience of around, say 5 years, employees are moved into the so-called management function, where senior employees mostly work on Excel-based management systems or in-house developed management tools and managing the team of coders.

Employees feel happy that they are promoted to management roles and take it as progress in their careers.

Of late, this middle flab has increased too much. Managers are just working on excel sheets, giving pep-talks to their teams and keeping their bosses in good humour. Now when organisations analyse the real business value of these managers, they find this middle flab to be just white elephants. Managers are not billable to the client at one hand; on the other they take home a fatter salary. When such realisations dawn, this mid-level managers become double the trouble for their employers.

Result: They begin snipping the extra flab. We do not want pure managerial talent, we want employees who will take less salary and will be billable too, they justify their laying offs.

Net result: Thousands of jobs of middle managers are on the block.

Employees too think that they have progressed in their career, and so don't see any need to do coding and testing. 'Let us just manage the team,' they tell themselves. And now the Damocles' sword is hanging on their heads. For years together they have not opened the debugger, have not compiled 10 lines of code, forgot all the basics, and whatever they have been doing for all these years, is treated as non-value addition. Now where do you go? Double whammy for employees too!

What's even worse for these mid-level managers is, for years, sometimes even decades, they have been pampered by their employers as 'Leaders', 'Managers' and what not; Now all of sudden they are being asked to go back to the debugger and start writing C code.

And this happens at a time and age, when managers have families, kids, EMIs, their own medical troubles etc. With layoffs staring them in the face, even their livelihood is at stake!

In a nutshell, IT Managers in the Indian IT industry are staring at a huge problem. Is there a way out for managers? Yes, every problem has solution. Let us see:


  1. Be ready to go back to basics. Brush up your skills and start asking for coding and testing work.
  2. Go for external training on your own expenses. Learn the latest technologies and become hands on.
  3. Remove the artificial garb of being a manager. Deal with your ego. In western countries even 50-year-olds sit and code. You too should be ready for hard work.
  4. Try getting a job in other companies where you can work as Member, Technical Staff, and take hardcore testing and coding assignments.
  5. If you are not ready to go back to coding and testing, opt for jobs in public sector enterprises, where managerial skills are required.
  6. If you have entrepreneurial spirit within you, you can start your own company. But remember, here too you will have to work on the basics.
  7. Do not analyse or criticise the decisions of the organisation. It won't help in anyway; rather it will be harmful for your future employment and above all for your own physical and mental health.
  8. Discuss with your spouse, your kids, your friends. There is no shame in doing this. It will help you in thinking better and your support system will widen.
  9. Tell yourself clearly that if you have to be in the IT industry, you will have to do coding and testing; else you will be out of the industry. It will take some time, but you can adjust. It is a mind game. You have to play with your mind.
  10. Last but not the least, take lesson from the industry and be on your toes. Audit your financial position, restrict unnecessary expenses and live within your earnings.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Pull your own strings, take complete charge of your professional life... everything will be all right!!

How to cope with layoffs

Achche Din or not, people are being laid off. Layoffs can happen anytime. To anybody.

If you have been laid off and coped with it well, we would like to know the lessons you learnt and what it takes to emerge successful.

Please mail your responses to (Subject line: Layoffs) to help those who have been laid off or could face layoffs in the weeks to come.

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Pramod Kumar Srivastava runs a generalist business management consulting, PKS Management Consultants based in Bengaluru. He specialises in 'Corporate Performance Improvement.'

Pramod Kumar Srivastava