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chala , , , , , , ,

Even in Canada where the economy doesn’t seem to be in as grave a crisis as the US, I have seen over 100 people of my personal acquaintance being restructured in the last 6 months. I myself have been restructured several times in my 15 year career. Both my parents entered retirement through corporate restructuring. It is like an epidemic of major proportions that has now plagued several generations. From my personal experience, here are a few signs that I’ve encountered before I or my friends and clients were restructured:
1. The company isn’t doing well
If your company has declining sales, profitability or even flat growth over a period of time, things are ripe for a change and it is often the first sign of trouble. This I’ve recently found out is unfortunately also true if you work in a profitable Canadian subsidiary but the Global head office is in trouble. There is no escape.
2. There is a new boss in the picture
Often the first job of any new management is to bring on their own team. If you’re not part of that team, your job could be at jeopardy. This is especially true if you have an executive position.
3. Others have recently been let go in the company
Restructuring often starts in bits and pieces and may appear to be unrelated to your job. For example, a department head was the first surprise elimination before my client, at a completely different division was let go as part of the same restructuring. This same process went on for a whole year throughout the company.
4. Your manager is getting more involved in your work
If all of a sudden, your manager wants more details and documentation on the same job you’ve been doing for years, it could be because he or she is preparing to hand over the responsibilities to someone else.
5. You’re asked to fill out forms HR forgot to get you to fill out when you first started
This actually happened to both me and another friend who was recently let go from a senior Sales position. When HR realizes that legally they’re at any sort of liability because of missing documents, you might be asked to fill out standard employment forms or sign contracts relating to your position that should’ve happened as part of your hiring but got dropped through the cracks.
6. Your manager no longer seeks your advice or opinion
When the value you add is no longer sought out, it is a good sign of loss of faith on the part of your manager. You are essentially paid for your expertise and opinion, especially in higher responsibility roles. Once that is no longer being solicited, it could signal that something is up.
7. You’re left out of important meetings
The last time I was restructured, my manager had invited everyone in the department including my direct reports (except me) to a meeting about a new work process. When I found out about it, I knew immediately what it signalled and for some perverse reason went into the meeting anyway as if I were expected. Everyone else just thought it normal that I was there but you should’ve seen the look on my manager’s face! It is never a good sign if you are being left out of strategic or long term planning meetings, as I found out a month later.
8. You’ve clashed in the recent past with a manager the company values
Whether a disagreement occurred with your own or another heavy weight manager in the company, it could signal that there’s no alignment in your strategies or thinking.
9. Your boss is under extreme pressure
If the company isn’t doing well, there’s a new boss in town and people are already being let go in other departments, you can bet that your boss is feeling the pressure. If there’s also a lack of alignment between you and your boss’ views, this might be a time where your boss will see this as an opportunity to restructure someone he or she isn’t fully comfortable with.
10. Important managers are making unplanned visits to your office
When the new head of the company made his way unannounced to the local National Sales Meeting, some did think that he was showing an unlikely interest in the Canadian subsidiary. They were absolutely right. Similarly, when my friend got a call announcing that her new boss was bringing the head of HR from head office down for a meeting, it raised a few eyebrows and set off alarm bells. My friend had never met the HR manager in 7 years of working at the same company. Sure enough, it was the beginning of the end.
If you find yourself in the unlucky position of seeing your life in the above descriptions, don’t despair—you have a head start on things if you’re aware of what’s coming. Use the time wisely to sort out your affairs and make it the lightest and best walk of shame that your company’s ever seen when the day finally arrives.
Take it from me; there is always a new job out there.
With kindness as always,
Chala

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