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June 13, 2017

Coping With Restructuring – #MTtalk Roundup

Yolande Conradie

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"Change is the heartbeat of growth." – Scottie Somers

Company restructuring is one of those topics that's easy to theorize about. However, it's quite different if it's your organization that's restructuring.

Part of my preparation for this week's Twitter chat was looking at the Mind Tools forums (where members share challenges, ask for input on ideas and get support from the community team) and see how often members raised the topic of restructuring.

I wasn't surprised to find page upon page of search results.

Restructuring is a Reality

Reading through some of the posts I saw certain themes emerging, with a number of people saying that they were afraid that they wouldn't fit into their new roles or that their strengths wouldn’t be utilized.

Meanwhile, others said that while they were kept in the same position, they felt that they should have been given opportunity for promotion.

Move to Management

Other people said that while they were in technical positions before, during restructuring they had been promoted to a management level. Because of that, what follows was a typical cry for help: "I am in charge of a department – now what?"

Many people were making comments on the role their managers were playing or, as managers, the role they themselves were playing during the restructuring process.

Reorganizing priorities and rebuilding morale are some of the key challenges that managers need to deal with. Moreover, knowing what motivates people and how to enrich their jobs makes the process a bit easier.

Not Communicating

Another common theme is communication, with this statement from one member summing it up well: "Communication is the biggest obstacle in the company, because we are struggling with a communication breakdown."

It's also a sad reality that many people were also asking advice about updating their résumés, how to re-interview for their own positions, and how to cope with job loss.

Coping with Restructuring

During our Twitter chat last Friday we spoke about coping with restructuring. Here are the questions we asked and some of the responses from participants.

Q1. What do we mean by "restructure"? Does it always involve job loss?

@JKatzaman Restructure has gotten a bad name, often after a merger. Restructure can be as simple as reorganization to be more sensible.

@ishieta Reorganisation and cutting the extra fat – whether that's people or procedures or paperwork. Focus on cost and results.

Q2. Is it ever possible to maintain "business as usual" during a restructure and what's the alternative?

@70mq Great question. In theory yes, but in reality no. People are usually focused on what their next job role/manager will be.

@GThakore Transition period is always turbulent. Maintain status quo until new procedures get set.

Q3. What are the effects of restructuring on employees?

The effects aren't always negative, as we can see from these responses:

@WonderPix It can feel like your house is being remodeled around you. Need to believe the results will be worth it.

@britz  Depends. Restructuring isn't fear inducing for all. Some get promotions and new opportunities. Change can be good.

Q4. How does a restructure affect communication and what are the associated risks?

Communication is critical during a restructure and, as such, should be handled with care.

@Yolande_MT People might suddenly feel a sense of distrust – where trust is low, communication suffers.

@ZalkaB The worst is silence or miscommunication. It's about having a clear chain of communication with your employees and teams and addressing their questions.

Q5. What are the costs to an organization when the change process during a restructure is not handled well?

Our regular participant, Kay, or as we know her @SistadaHealer summarized it very well: Monetary loss, staff losses, reduction in production, loss of faithful consumers, company integrity and loss of reputation.

Q6. Thinking about a restructure you've experienced, how would you prefer it to have been handled, and why?

An interesting theme emerged here. Most participants mentioned that they wanted to be told the truth – that's telling of how restructurings are handled!

@jeremypmurphy Restructurings that take place immediately with no advance notice/warning are very chaotic for us. Tell us sooner.

@PG_pmp Communication and information to effectively engage employees is most important during restructuring.

Q7. There are persistent rumors about a possible restructuring. How can you support others in the organization?

@BrainBlenderTec  Don't fuel into innuendo and gossip. Try to talk with key people as it might be an opportunity to grow.

@Midgie_MT Reassurance of what you do know (the facts) and that you will keep them informed as soon as you know.

Q8. How can you manage the emotional impact of going through a restructuring process?

A common theme emerged that employers should put support structures in place and create space for people to share thoughts, feelings and fears.

@MicheleDD_MT Stay positive & be a positive force for others. Focus on today. What can I do now to prepare me for tomorrow?

Q9. What are some practical tips you'd like to share with others about going through a restructuring?

@Yolande_MT Look for opportunities to be creative. Problem-solvers are always in demand. Problem-dwellers are in over-supply.

Q10. What can we do as leaders to help employees to thrive during a restructure?

@Midgie_MT Focus on the positives, benefits and the exciting challenges that will help them thrive & survive to ultimately become better.

We end on a cheerful note from @BrainBlenderTec: Keep calm and motor on. You never know where the confetti will fall so find what works for you, and when in doubt, dance!

Next time, on #MTtalk...

Some people always seem to have strength to bounce back from anything that happens to them, and resilience is a great characteristic to develop.

However, the flip side is that you don't develop resilience in easy times. Which career event do you think requires the most resilience? Please vote over here to let us know.

In our next #MTtalk on Friday, June 23rd, our topic is "Resilience: Be Ready for Anything." To share your thoughts and ideas, please join us at 1 p.m. EST/5 p.m. GMT/10:30 p.m. IST.

Come and Participate

To participate in our chat about coping with restructuring, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on "All Tweets" and you'll be able to follow the live chat feed. To join the conversation, simply include #MTtalk in your tweet and it will show up in the chat feed.

In the meantime, here are some resources that will help you learn more about the art of asking good questions:

How to Recover From Job Loss

Into the Deep End

Rebooting Your Career

Surviving a Merger

Kelley and Conner's Emotional Cycle of Change


Physical Relaxation Techniques

Toffler's Stability Zones

Locus of Control

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