Has your business just undergone a reorganization? Here’s how to thrive there
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You might like your job and your teammates. But don’t get too comfortable. A corporate reorganization could be around the corner.
In my organization of 1,500 people within Google, I have undergone two large-scale reorganizations in three years. Reshuffles can be even more common for small businesses or startups, and according to a Harvard Business Review study, 80% of employers see restructuring continuing at an even or faster pace over the next three years.
This means that reorganizations are a given. The only question is how you answer them and how you can use them for your career advancement. Here’s a guide to not only surviving your business reorganization, but also thriving as a result of it. I call it REORG, which means react, evaluate, overinvest, resist and grow.
React consciously – instead of automatically – to reorganization. Instinctive reactions of fear and frustration are normal, but managers notice how people present themselves in the days and months following a reorganization announcement. You want to show that you can thrive in the midst of uncertainty.
A conscious reaction does not mean pretending to be excited about the changes. You might experience a real sense of loss and mourning – the loss of a great boss, the dismantling of a team you love, etc. It’s natural. But while it helps to overcome these emotions in private (and in the right way with your team or manager if you have that psychological security), you should avoid complaining, denying, or lowering morale. team.
In public, you should be a net contributor of positive energy. When you assume the best of intentions (i.e. that there are probably smart people at the top making these changes for valid business reasons), it makes it easier to intentionally react even when you are dealing with your own emotions.
Evaluate where you are in your career and what you want to do next. A reorganization can be a useful inflection point even if you didn’t realize you were ready for one. You might wonder if you are comfortable with your career or if this is a great opportunity for a new role. Restructuring almost always creates new opportunities, and it can be a good function to force you to move on to your next adventure.
This new opportunity may be with the same team, a different organization, or an entirely different company. During a reorganization, I decided that I was going to overcome the changes and stay put. On another, I knew right away that I wanted to apply for one of the new positions created by the reorganization. Neither decision was right or wrong; they both matched my needs and my professional background at the time. When you assess where you stand, you can take the next step that makes the most sense for your career advancement.
Over-invest in driving change. Whether you are an individual contributor or a manager (who may be faced with your own sense of loss and uncertainty), you can shine in the aftermath of a reorganization by focusing on the work that needs to be done. This may mean joining the change management workflow or stepping up to lead the new customer segmentation strategy upon which the entire reorganization is based.
For example, when I was reorganized into a new team, I didn’t feel good about where I ended up. I was the only New York-based employee who would now work remotely on a team entirely in Chicago. Eh. I have not seen this a future ; I was as perplexed as I was demotivated. However, I knew that demotivation would not serve me or my career aspirations to get promoted in the next six months.
Despite my instinct to withdraw from the effort, I chose to overinvest. It turned out that I was the only one in the team of seven with specific product expertise. I immediately offered weekly product training to my new peers. Right away, it gave me a sense of responsibility and ownership, and my new boss noticed my proactivity. For her, this indicated that I was “on the bus” and able to thrive during the change. Your manager’s perception that you are investing too much at a time when the business needs your leadership is always good for your career.
Resist the gossip, or, more specifically, the negative feeling it can cause. Reorgs are often emotional and can make you speculate or seek information. It is of course useful to know what is going on, and it does not always happen through official channels. Frankly, speculative discussions about water coolers can be fun and build a culture among coworkers. However, when the gossip is petty, it can reduce your effectiveness in navigating a reorganization and can damage your reputation. Avoid it if you can.
Rather than saying to your co-worker, “I heard they combined the two organizations because they want to get rid of Brian,” ask your manager or your manager’s manager, appropriately, what were the business reasons for the reorganization. Hope they’ve already shared the guiding principles, but if you’d like to learn a bit more, have an honest conversation with your boss. If you are a manager yourself, it also gives you clear information to share with your team. Spreading rumors leads to burnt bridges, and it’s a quick way to thwart your career.
Personal and professional growth is an almost guaranteed result of any business restructuring. You could get the short end of the stick and be demoted, put under an additional level of management, or even fired. Alternatively, you can get the butt of the stick and find yourself promoted, managing a team of 200 instead of 50, or being asked to lead the key focus area of this year’s annual plan.
If the first occurs, you can look for a job change; growth inevitably comes from this transition. If the latter occurs, you will have more responsibility or learn new skills; growth inevitably comes with that too! If you have a growth mindset, reorganizations can be a boon to your career, because no matter how you land in the reorganization, Something has changed, and change breeds growth.
With REORG, you now have a framework to help you get through the difficult times that can arise directly after restructuring a business or team. As you face the uncertainty and discomfort that reorganizations can bring, think about how you might react, evaluate, overinvest, resist, and grow. These tips will not only help you survive the reorganization, but also thrive in your career.