Part one: Surviving the restructure

redundancy ahead

It’s that moment in your career that you probably dread happening.

"We're having a company announcement on Tuesday at 10am, can everyone please make themselves available in the boardroom at this time. Attendance at this meeting is compulsory." Depending on how you choose to handle things, this could be the dawn of a new and positive chapter in your life. Or it could see you become a bitter and potentially unemployable proposition.

Statistically speaking it will happen to you 1.7 times in your career. I heard someone say they'd once met someone who had been through 6 previous redundancies, having met that person I was pretty sure that it wasn't bad luck or company performance that saw this happen. On another note I once met (and subsequently placed) a person who had been through four restructure and redundancy (R+R) processes. He remained an eminently employable proposition, so we successfully engaged.

My first word about restructures and redundancies is that I don't believe it should be a surprise. There's a blog series I’m working on 'keeping yourself attuned to what’s really happening in your company', but at this point I'll just say that company performance, regulatory pressures, competitive plays or market disruptions should all be things you keep abreast of. Don't wait for the announcement to start your thinking about your career and future. You should expect this day and have a strategy for yourself ready to go.

3 things to consider when a restructure is announced and redundancy is imminent:

  1. Don’t take it personally (unless your role is the only one affected). Taking it personally will bring unnecessary emotions into the process, which could cloud your judgement, delay you getting into positive action and negatively affect your chances of continued employment. If your role is the only one affected it could well be personal, and potentially one that could see you win a personal grievance if they handle things badly (and if you want the fight). Remember there is a proper process that businesses need to make when restructuring and making redundancies, so make sure you check your rights.
  2. Don't expect any outcome to be a foregone conclusion (unless your whole division is being closed and there are no other remotely similar positions in the company). What I mean here is don't either consider yourself indispensable or highly likely to go. Either line of thinking could promote the wrong sort of activity:‘I'm doomed’ - bridge burning, paralysis, not thinking of genuinely good suggestions, which could markedly change things for you and the company. Instead, think of the planned changes, what impacts they could have upon performance, culture, IP and so on, and then make these suggestions to management. Be part of the change rather than the victim of it.‘I'll be fine’ - particularly dangerous as you may be competing for the remaining roles with others who want it more, and can prove better than you, their place under the new structure. Instead be proactive and make some positive suggestions as above.
  3. Consider up front what outcome you would like to see. If you really, really want to stay then this will guide your actions. Likewise if it’s time to go, and if you face a great redundancy package then perhaps you should put yourself up early; it will make others’ lives easier and you will put yourself in a stronger negotiating position.