The employees you forgot
The announcement came that Katie’s Marketing team was restructuring. 200 people would be shuffled about for a new strategic direction. And yes, there would be redundancies – including Katie’s brand role. Having worked at the company for 3 years and knowing she was a great operator, Katie’s manager asked her: “What roles in the new team structure interest you?” Katie indicated a few.
She was appointed into a new role, and over the weeks & months as the new structure bedded down, she learned the responsibilities and slowly set things up. Her colleagues on redeployment got career support and eventually left the company. 6 months later, Katie handed in her resignation. Her manager was stunned – losing a really great team member and now having to find and train up someone brand new at this critical time... What happened?!
How it was for Katie
Katie never wanted the role. She thought she did. Out of everything on offer in the new structure, this was a great fit for her skills and experience. It made sense. And she had taken it because… well, she needed a job, didn’t she? She wasn’t given another choice.
Katie didn’t get career support. She was never encouraged to open up her mind to all the possibilities available, not just the handful in the new team structure. And with several of her colleagues gone, a gnawing feeling of no longer wanting to show up to work, and a fear that maybe she’d missed her chance to do something she was passionate about, she resigned. Katie lost out. Her manager lost out. The company lost out.
"Being able to do something & wanting to do something is the difference between being employed & being engaged .”
The forgotten people
So often career coaching, CV services and interview advice, if provided at all, are only offered to people who are on redeployment. But in a restructure, everyone is displaced – even the people whose roles don’t change. Restructures stir up emotions for all staff; in particular fear of losing their job - their livelihood, identity and personal power.
Every restructuring team has 3 groups of employees:
Those who were already planning to leave
Those who are ready to leave, but don’t know it yet
Those who truly want to stay
Katie was in the second group – she actually needed someone to help her realise she wanted to do something completely different. Her manager and company forgot that - they forgot her. This, coupled with being a “survivor employee” and the inherent stress of the restructure process, led to the “second wave” of staff departures, which usually happens 6-12 months later from the loss of staff morale, engagement and confidence. Her company, like most, anticipated only the immediate first wave of staff changes.
What can you do differently?
Realise upfront that you are going to be impacting everyone. Support all of your employees from the start of the process. You might want to keep your key talent. But if they don’t want to be there, you’ll likely lose them anyway. You'll waste precious time and resources as key leaders, talent and industry knowledge head to competitors, and backfilling costs in recruitment and onboarding time. Staff who are clear on what they actually want now are your greatest asset – keep the ones who truly want to stay.
As an experienced Change Management Consultant & Career Coach, Lata Hamilton provides companies with Restructure Support Programs to improve performance & success by empowering & enhancing employee engagement & wellbeing. Contact her via LinkedIn to find out more.