So They Reorg'd Your Company

This is from my back catalog... e.g. I wrote it awhile ago but never finished the thought.  It's a bit of a noodle on what to do with the some of the crappier choices you are given during a restructure. Please keep in mind that this is a realistic, albeit cynical, assessment of what some of your options are in each of these scenarios.


They Say Your Role is the Same, You Don't Agree

First, why does this happen so frequently?  My personal theory is that we get hired for a role with a specific job description, but, within about six months, the role morphs to fit our skills and current company needs. It can no longer accurately be described by the original position description. When HR and leadership get together to design a 'new, comparable' role, they largely base their assessment on what your position description (PD) says you do rather than what you actually do. A comparison of the old PD and the new PD yields only marginal changes which can be described as 'the same' and so willy nilly you get dropped into the new role never mind the lived reality.

What do you do with this? First, you have to be able to thoroughly and accurately describe what you do for a living. I recommend starting with writing your current job description as a LIVED EXPERIENCE. Do not describe the role in theory or how you would like it to be; Describe how the role exists in the real world. This can be a humbling -- sometimes deeply disappointing or frustrating -- exercise, and it often exposes the primary reason so many are unsatisfied with their current job. In any case, when you then compare the 'real' PD against the proposed PD, the case that the two roles are significantly different becomes more obvious.

Another tactic is to look at that new role description and ask yourself, "Is that really how it would work?" or would the position rapidly metastasise into something different based on how people and tasks are shuffled around in the new structure. For example, if you currently do a critical Thing and that critical Thing must still be done, but it isn't in your new role description, who is doing it? How? Would you still be doing it or is that function being removed? How much of your day does that Thing actually take? Because if it's more than 10% of your day, you are well on your way to explaining why they are wrong and you are right.

Corollary, senior leaders, ER, and org designers often don't know everything you do. They can't. You are not being difficult when you assist in the design of the new structure by listing all those Things and asking really hard questions about them -- including but not limited to Why do we do the Thing?


They Put You in a Deployment Pool for a Role You Don't Want

That's sneaky. You've been told that a new role is comparable, but it's not sufficiently similar that you even want to apply. Maybe you can't stand your potential new boss or it feels like a step down. Yet if you don't apply, you are not eligible for redundancy. Mind you, the worst case scenario here is that you apply and you actually get the role. God damn it, right? You don't want the thing, but you also don't want to be cheated of a graceful and financially reasonable exit strategy.

Brace yourself. I'm going to give you advice you don't want hear.

Blow the interview. Basically take everything you've ever learned about making yourself look good and do the opposite. Some recommendations:

  • Don't shower or brush your teeth
  • Dress a bit shabby or inappropriately for the role (note, showing off your bits is not an option even in this context... shabby not tawdry)
  • Find out what the hiring manager really wants and make sure your resume doesn't include it
  • Allow it to be known that you're not excited about the new role by dropping hints that you know will make it back to the hiring manager
  • Include typos in any cover letter or application documentation

I'm not joking. You're being forced to apply for a role you don't want at the cost of a redundancy package the company doesn't want to have to pay out. It is not talent management for them to have done this. It's a way for the company to save money while locking in talent to a role that the individual may or may not have ever sought. They (the leaders, the HR professionals, the change managers) will tell you it is talent management to keep such a great person like yourself, but call bullshit on that bullshit. I'd rather look like a crappy candidate to a few people then spend a year in a role I hate because it's the only way out of the situation.

They Create a Bunch of New Roles, None of Which You Think Suit You

My go-to in this scenario is always first to ask, Are you sure? The new roles might be amazing, but you might just lack confidence to go for it. This is a particularly gendered problem, mind you. Men will apply for something they are only 50% qualified for while women often will not apply unless they fit 100% of the qualifications. Not sexism, #science moresthepity. So, are you simply not giving yourself enough credit? Maybe you could would should be brilliant in one of these new jobs.

Next up, do you not like it because you've been there and done that and the idea of doing it again bores you? Fair enough. If none of the new roles feel like they are stretchy or interesting enough for your career, you need to make a short term and a long term move. The short term move is to just secure one of the damn things so you can pay the mortgage. The long term move is to start immediately applying elsewhere. Everywhere. Go go go.

These Roles Don't Make Any Sense At All

When a restructure creates a role that is absolutely batsh*t, all we can do is explain how and why. As professionals, we must make the good fair effort to explain why leadership and the HR folks have screwed up. Maybe they just weren't aware of a thing, maybe they lack data, maybe they lack context. Let's give it a go.

I have virtually never seen this work, btw. Once a good friend of mine did a 20 some odd page PowerPoint explaining chapter and verse why a new structure had a bunch of roles that were going to collectively result in a clusterf*ck and. None of the issues she raised were acted on. Twelve months later when her predictions began to materialise, our only consolation was, 'Yes, honey, you were right. You told them so."

So my recommendation is to do your due diligence but recognise that your efforts will be largely ignored. You need to let that go and be okay with it if you are going to stay with the organisation. Your opinion/knowledge will either be validated and vindicated or proven wrong and in neither case will you ever receive even one moment of acknowledgement; Everyone has long since moved on. Do the best you can with the broken role or structure or operating model and then try to get it fixed in the next go around. Fundamentally, it isn't really your problem since you don't own the op model.


I actually have a few more of these but not enough for another full blog. If you have a scenario for which you'd like a "Toast Take", please let me know. Send me an email or comment on the web site.