News of corporate restructuring is guaranteed to induce panic. A restructuring process often occurs due to financial pressures, a merger, or a company's decision to head in a different direction. Whatever the reason, it is a major upheaval that will likely eliminate positions. What should you do if this happens to you?
First, while scary, there is a bright side to a major restructuring. It is an opportunity for an organization to improve its operations and for you to find a position with better prospects.
This article explains what a corporate restructuring is and under what circumstances it might happen. We also provide tips on how to navigate a corporate restructuring so that you set yourself up for success amid layoffs.
There are many reasons why a corporation will restructure, which is typically a code word for downsizing. According to Investopedia, restructuring is when a company makes “significant changes to its financial or operational structure, typically while under financial duress.”
During the pandemic, many organizations were stretched to the limit and forced to cut costs due to market changes. Now, a tight labor market, global supply chain woes, and rapid inflation are compromising companies' abilities to stay profitable.
Digital technologies and automation are another reason companies restructure. Automation reduces the need for some workers, and companies will restructure their staffing to take advantage of machine labor.
Lastly, financial pressures force some organizations to engage in a merger to appease stakeholders.
From an employee’s perspective, a new organizational structure could mean their job is eliminated, but in some cases, staff can reapply for their original jobs or apply for other jobs within the new organization. A corporate restructuring could be an opportunity to reposition yourself and learn new skills. If you feel underutilized or see few options for advancement, a reorganization or restructuring could be just what the doctor ordered.
Here’s a road map to help you navigate a restructuring.
For more on how to manage change, read "How to Cope With Life Transitions"
Hopefully, your company is transparent and is communicating the realities to its employees. Whether that is the case or not, it’s crucial to find out the lay of the land and what the restructuring will mean for you.
Talk to your manager to better understand what is happening to your job and what you need to do to stay employed.
You may find that your manager can assure you that your job is safe and that you need only reapply to be reinstated. That would be good news, but it would be wise to seek assurance from human resources bearing in mind that the restructuring and rehiring process may not be finalized.
If you are happy to stay in your current role, and that seems to be an option, all well and good. But what if you have no guarantee that your job will be there, or you would like to move to another department and gain experience elsewhere?
When restructuring occurs, it’s a good idea to hedge your bets. Don’t rely on your current job being there for you, even if your manager says it will be. What if your manager moves to another position? Then, your job will be in jeopardy. Explore your options and try to find a plan B.
Always discuss your options with your manager. It’s particularly important to maintain a good relationship at times like this because you need your boss to advocate for you. If they cannot guarantee that you will keep your job, you can ask them to help you find another. Ask your supervisor if they can recommend you to others on the leadership team and for positions in other departments.
If your manager wants you to reapply for your current job, but you also want to look at other opportunities, explain that to your manager. They should understand because everyone feels insecure at times of restructuring, and even business leaders are looking out for their own interests.
Remember that your boss might be contemplating a move also. Where would that leave you?
Restructurings are inherently messy, and, unfortunately, there will be politics at play. In the short term, don’t try to align yourself with any individual or group that you think might help you find a position. There is no way to know who will end up where, so keep your options open.
Instead, remain neutral and seek out as many moves as possible without committing to any until you have to. Ideally, wait until the business model and leadership are clear before deciding where you want to go within the corporate structure. However, remaining neutral does not mean that you shouldn’t network.
Do you have a strong network? Perhaps you have contacts in other departments who can alert you to opportunities. Now is the time to put out the feelers with co-workers and see what the landscape looks like. Don’t limit your networking and job search to your organization. Use LinkedIn to find possible connections and opportunities elsewhere.
Some companies are eager to hire talented staff displaced by a corporate reorganization, so it’s worth exploring the market for new jobs.
For more on networking, read "Building a Professional Network to Land a Job"
Change management can be chaotic, and your manager may not have all the information you need. Decision-making at the president, vice president, and executive levels may not be as smooth as you would like.
Follow up with human resources regularly to determine exactly how things may affect you. Specifically, find out what will happen if you lose your job. You should know if you will receive any benefits or severance pay.
The best approach if you are told that your job is being eliminated due to organizational change is a strategic one. Find out what you need to do to retain your position or apply to another part of the organization. Have a fallback plan and keep your options open.
Ask your manager to support you and recommend you for other positions if needed. Use your network both within and outside of the organization to find other opportunities, and try to set yourself up with at least two possible moves that you can choose from post-restructuring.
Most importantly, don’t assume the worst. Restructuring is a process of necessary change, both for you and your company. With change comes progress, and you are quite likely to find yourself in a new role within an improved organization than the ones you were in before.