March 29, 2008

Surviving the Corporate Restructure

Corporate restructuring, also known as downsizing or rightsizing is something that many of us have faced in our career and might yet experience in the future. Lately, you might have noticed on the news all the doom and gloom coming from Wall Street and the NASDAQ. Fear not, with a little preparation and a plan you can be on the offensive instead of the defensive if and when you are faced with a "coporate restructuring."

I have myself been a victim of corporate restructuring a time or two. There were times I was able to survive each and every one of them while others were let go.

Corporate restructuring refers to when your employer makes changes in the number of staff or headcount and other cost cutting measures. These costing cutting measures can include fewer products, plants, and divisions. Most companies that are driven by stockholders and Wall Street "restructure" from time to time. The name of the game is making money while keeping customers and stockholders happy.

Restructuring is also a common practice for corporate restructurings to occur because of mergers and acquisitions where the new combined company decides to lower overhead and expenses by laying off extra staff. The end result is the same regardless of because of a merger or lowering overhead, it basically means people end up losing their jobs and the people who are left working for the company often end up having to do more work.

Obviously, being a victim of a corporate restructuring is a setback to your career but surviving a restructuring can be equally disheartening especially if you feel that the writing is on the wall and that you might be affected during the next round of layoffs.
Also, after a corporate restructuring you might find that your job and work situation in general is not as desirable as it was before especially if your job, your manager and/or your compensation structure has changed.

Whether you are a survivor of coporate restructuring or affected by a layoff, the restructuring change can leave you even more worried and stressed than relieved because you wonder how tenuous your position is with the company especially if you question your company’s future direction and financial viability.

Here are things you can do to remain positive during times of change which will allow you to move quickly should things deteriorate that require you to take action:

1. Position Yourself.
Do your best to promote the value you bring to the company. Employees that are considered key players and essential to the success of a department or company are often survivors of corporate restructuring. Develop metrics or measurables you and your team can communicate to upper management. Develop a plan to promote these metrics and position yourself as an essential member of the team and an important part of the future success of the company you work for.

2. Develop your Marketing Plan.
I speak quite frequently in this blog about your marketing plan. Always keep your plan up to date so you are able to spring into the job search very quickly and prepared. Your marketing plan is more than just a resume and coverletter. It includes a wide variety of marketing materials like your business cards, websites, online blogs, networking connections and the research you have done on various positions of interests and the qualifications required. (See Marketing Plan and the 5 P's of Marketing for previous posts regarding this topic.)

3. Always keep your resume up to date.
Ensure that your resume is always ready to send out in case you need to send it out and quickly. Be proactive not reactive. Always make sure to include your new responsibilities. Don't get complacent. My resume is always posted on large job boards and with several recruiters of choice. One phone call and several emails can put my resume into play very quickly.

4. Always be on the lookout for job openings.
There is no company allegiance any longer. Employees and candidates need to protect themselves and look out for their best interests. Always continue to be on the look out for new opportunities by networking through online sites, attending business functions and staying connected with close friends and business partners.

5. Stay informed about company and industry facts and figures.
Stay informed by viewing financial statements and reading articles about the company you work for as well as your industry competitor's. I always like to keep my friends close but my enemies closer. This has been particularly successful for me when I am recruiting employee competitors or looking to make a job change. By doing so, you shouldn't be surprised if and when your company announces a restructuring.