A Survivor’s Guide to Restructures and Downsizing at Work

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Organisational restructures are a fact of life in many careers.

Here’s our guide to how to stay sane and maintain momentum in your career.

Dealing with Uncertainty

Restructures can take many months, sometimes years. You may be in limbo for a long period, not knowing whether your job will survive and – if it does- what shape it may take. It is hard to stay motivated during this time.

Accept that you won’t know what is happening for some time. But don’t let yourself by paralysed by anxiety. There are many practical steps you can take to protect and even enhance your career which will put you in the driving seat.

Reflecting on your Options

You may be asked to make quick decisions on whether to apply for any new roles. Use the waiting time to think through what kind of roles most would interest you, where your strengths lie and how you would like your career to develop, And if you do find yourself looking for a job with a new employer, you will be well prepared for the application process.

You may be able to access one to one career coaching within your institution’s careers service or try some of the self assessment exercises on the Windmills website.

You may have to declare an interest in voluntary redundancy with very little notice. It helps to have worked out in advance the financial terms on which this would be attractive to you so you can move quickly.

Building Your Profile

This is a time to consolidate your reputation within the organisation and ensure your successes and potential are recognised within your profession. Not to avoid redundancy (most decisions are based on structures rather than personalities) but in case you want to apply for new roles internally or find a job outside.

Start collecting hard evidence of previous successes (student feedback, positive appraisals, funding generated etc). Create or refresh your profile on networking sites like LinkedIn and make sure you are joining in relevant discussions and are a member of the right groups. Consider using the networking potential of events and meetings (internal and external) which are a normal part of your work.

Seizing Opportunities

Recruitment freezes and a slimmed down organisation can lead to more and more work being expected of the remaining staff. There may be a silver lining here though in terms of more flexibility of roles.  

Senior vacancies or new projects which might have been advertised externally might now be open to internal staff whose profile might not quite have fitted before.

Some work which might have been contracted out to freelancers or other organisations may come back in-house.

Senior colleagues may be struggling with increasing workloads, which may give you an opportunity to take on some new work that you have always fancied but weren’t senior enough to do (with some of your routine work passed to others for their career development naturally).

Once you are clear about the kind of work you would like to be doing, you can make a pitch to develop your role. As well as increasing your own job satisfaction, this will boost your profile within the organisation and increase your employability for your next career move.

Using these strategies will put you back in control.  Who knows, you may decide to take your career in a new direction whatever the outcome of your organisation’s restructure.       

You might also like to read our article: Redundancy Advice: First Steps After Redundancy

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