With tech firms disrupting many industries, reorganizations are the new normal. I’m about to face one myself in the coming year or so. Since my day-job is my most important source of income, the key question here is: how to survive a reorganization and still make the most of your career?
There are several things you can do before a reorganization and potential layoff. The sooner you start the better! Let’s find out more about 7 of them.
1. Think from management’s perspective
Reorganizations occur because from management’s perspective there is a need. There can be several reasons for this. Both internally as externally driven.
If you work for a company for many years, the need for change often is more difficult to see and understand. At least that’s my experience from working several years in consulting.
However, understanding management’s perspective on the reorganization is essential to position yourself in such a way that you are or become a perfect fit for the new organization structure. The higher up you are in the ranks the more important this is.
When you have a good view on the reason for the reorganization and how the new organization will probably look like, it’s time for some self-reflection. What will most likely be the impact on my role? What do I bring to the table in terms of impact on the bottom line?
Reorganizations often focus on improving processes, cutting expenses and improving decisiveness. Although many companies do not succeed, it will take place at my company anyway.
A practical example at my current company
The company I work for operates in the financial sector. With fintechs disrupting the industry, the traditional way of working is not sufficient anymore. There is just too much competition. That’s why the board has decided the perform a full-blown reorganization.
The part of the business that is mainly affected is the finance and risk management departments both on group level as on operating company level. The reason for this is simple. The organization has become so large that the board of directors feels they are losing grips on its performance.
With dozens of operating companies with different local brands and layers of management this is understandable. Because of its size the company has turned into an enormous warship making it incredibly difficult to navigate quickly to match or stay ahead of disruptors.
But what will happen? What’s management goal for the short- and mid-term? From my perspective the answer is: centralization and automation of back-office activities. Yes, this isn’t anything groundbreaking. But you should not underestimate the impact of these two elements for the company I work for.
So what I need to determine for myself is how my current role in project and risk management will look like in the new organization structure. I’m now in the process to make that more clear. I definitely need to focus on doing the right things, learning new skills and making a visible impact.
2. Set the right priorities
Many people are ‘busy’. But busy doesn’t mean you are working and focusing on the right things that make an impact. This is incredibly important when your organization is going through turmoil.
You can work your butt off by doing all-nighters and working 80 hours a week, but if you don’t focus on the right things they will not appreciate it in the way you expect. Focus on working smart and then work hard.
In every role there are a lot of things you do that no one seems to know about. If that’s the case, think very hard whether you still need to do those things. Are these things really a priority? What would go wrong if you stop doing these things?
It probably just takes an hour to list all your activities. Afterwards rank them based on priority and challenge the things on your list with your manager.
If you create the most beautiful 15 page sales report with all the things you think management needs, but it turns out that management only reads the first 5 pages, it’s a waste of your precious time. You work hard but you are not making a visible impact.
Take these first 5 pages and ask the managers and managing directors what they would really need or want to know as well. By improving your deliverable with the things management really wants, you are making a much larger impact. The work you are doing is then much more appreciated!
3. Always over deliver
Another thing that’s important, especially during a reorganization when you really need to show your value, is to always over deliver.
If you manager asks you to analyze new markets to do business in, for example, The Netherlands or Germany, add one or two countries you feel provide significant opportunities as well. That way you are showing you are smart, assertive and you make your manager’s job easier.
But always remember. Working smart comes before working hard. If you ‘over deliver’ by including things or markets that make little sense, then just don’t! It undermines your value, and it’s just a waste of time.
4. Manage your relationships and look for opportunities
Don’t stay around people who are constantly negative. Associate yourself with smart people and people that have influence. I don’t promote kissing your manager’s ass, but you need to be somewhat tactical and visible when it counts.
Managing your relationships starts the first day you start at work. Many of the colleagues you meet and with whom you work will someday move to other parts of the company. The will get promoted, take on more responsibility, etc. You just need to make sure you remember them and they remember you.
I’ve switched jobs several times. What I knew was less important than the people I knew. But it all starts with working hard and keep learning. Networking and meeting people is an essential part of work when times get tough. It’s all about the network you’ve built up in the past and the things you’ve done for others. That network will help you in your time of need.
Try to meet one new person every week in your company. When you do this your network will grow enormously and so will your opportunities!
5. Be flexible in turbulent times
Flexibility is an important skill in turbulent times. Those who are flexible and can adapt will survive the longest. They will make the most out of any situation. That’s exactly what you need in a reorganization.
If you want to stick to what you’ve doing in the past, you will soon lose your job. Be flexible in the path you want or need to take to reach your destination. But never lose sight of what you really want to do. Reorganizations often require people to do things they don’t want to do. They do it anyway because they don’t want to lose their jobs.
If that happens to you, be flexible but make sure it’s temporary. Take your career in your own hands. Life is too short to do things you do not want to do!
6. Increase your skills and knowledge
If you know where the organization is moving towards, learn the skills that enable you to become successful in the new situation. In today’s environments many companies shift to data analysis. Data scientists or people that every company is trying to hire but fail to do so. The reason is simple: there are just not enough experienced data scientists available.
If you think that’s the (financial) success of your company is heavily dependent on data, then you better make sure you are at least familiar with the basic concepts and speak the language. This applies to any business or expertise your company is in. When you know your stuff, you become more valuable and more difficult to replace.
7. Build other sources of income
Last but not least, do not rely on one source of income. If you want to reach financial freedom, you need multiple sources of income. This significantly decreases your exposure to financial hardship. When you have multiple sources of income, your quality of life increases because you have much less financial stress if things turn out differently with a source of income than you hoped.
But if you lose your only source of income and you a family to feed and house. You better have some stress!
As you can see, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself for a reorganization. Even if you don’t expect it to happen soon, you better work on these things now. It takes time, effort and dedication to keep your sources of income flowing to reach financial freedom!
To my readers: Have you faced a reorganization before? How did you prepare for it? How did you handle it?