In order to survive in a globally competitive environment, modern organisations are constantly looking to better position themselves. This means that they take steps to improve their offered products or services, change the way they build products or deliver services, and look to reduce the costs of production or delivery. Such steps have implications for how business is conducted and the number and types of roles required in the future. Therefore, organisational change, restructuring and reengineering can be considered normal, and a role redundancy event a high probability across an employee’s career. Anticipating, preparing for, and dealing with role redundancy are increasingly important career management skills.
In this article tips are provided that can help employees who feel that role redundancy represents a genuine career threat.
- Be Alert
Pay attention to political, economic, industry and organisational trends that could potentially affect your job security. Trends worthy of attention include:
- Government decisions that affect the viability of your industry or field of employment.
- Major international political and/or financial events (e.g. Global Financial Crisis).
- Pressures felt across your industry (e.g. increased automation).
- Increased merger and acquisition activity in your industry.
- Financial pressures experienced by the business you work for.
You owe it to yourself to remain alert; make no assumptions about your professional indispensability.
- Be Prepared
If you notice trends challenging the ongoing viability of your organisation, division, team, or role, you can position yourself by:
- Confidentially sharing your concerns, thoughts, and feelings with family members or close friends.
- Auditing your financial situation and formulating budgetary or other strategies that could lessen any lifestyle impact of sudden job loss (seek professional accounting or financial advice, if appropriate).
- Creating a high quality, up-to-date resume and aligned LinkedIn pro file (access professional career coaching support, if necessary).
- Increasing your professional visibility (e.g. attend industry and professional events).
- Rapidly increasing the rate at which you invite people to connect with you on relevant social media platforms (e.g. LinkedIn).
- Taking stock of all key relationships you have as a consequence of your employment and making sure you know how to contact those people in future.
- Reflecting on, and documenting, your achievements in your organisation (which are more easily recognised when in the physical environment).
- Remaining alert to all opportunities of potential career interest (including some internal opportunities that might be in “safer” areas of your organisation).
- Be Dignified
You may think you know how you will react if notified of role redundancy, however, your actual reaction may be different. In a similar way, it is presumptuous as author of this article to provide well-intended directives on how you should behave when notified.
If you find yourself participating in a notification meeting, try to:
- Pay attention to proceedings (but recognise that you will not necessarily remember all that takes place and can always ask for clarification later).
- Maintain your composure (but acknowledge your human condition and that feelings will attend the event).
- Refrain from making comments directed personally at organisational representatives or that more broadly threaten the organisation.
- Understand that if your emotional reaction is considered totally unreasonable the organisation may harden its stance towards you and choose not to exercise options that it had otherwise intended to offer to you (e.g. exploration of cross-business redeployment, opportunity to work for a specified period before departure, sponsored counselling or career support).
- Know that you may well need to interact with the organisation and its people in future industry and professional contexts (e.g. as a consultant, supplier).
- Remember that if you depart on reasonable terms from the organisation (and particularly your Line Manager) you are more likely to secure positive referee support.
- Accept / Seek Professional Support
If you have been notified of role redundancy, it is recommended that you:
- Take any opportunity offered to speak confidentially with an on-site counsellor if you feel overwhelmed or distraught at the time of notification.
- Access offered confidential counsellor support later if you are struggling to cope with your new circumstances. Also explore whether such support is available to family members if they are similarly affected.
- Meet with any on-site Career Coach after your notification meeting.
- Arrange to commence any employer-funded Career Transition Program.
- Give active consideration to paying for counselling and career coaching support if no organisational financial support is forthcoming. This can help accelerate your adjustment and position yourself positively for future opportunities.
- Seek professional accounting or financial advice, especially if the adverse financial impact of role redundancy is high or the amounts involved are significant.
- Become Poised
To restore your balance and present yourself professionally in the future:
- Recognise that organisational restructures are a feature of the modern economy and that role redundancy events are usually beyond the control of the employee.
- Understand that individual reactions to role redundancy are often linked to loss of valued aspects of work.
- Avoid using language such as ‘I was made redundant’. When explaining your new career circumstances to a person beyond your family and close friends, frame the conversation positively using a formula along the following lines (with a hypothetical example in brackets):
Fact: The organisation restructured (internally, with impacts on Asia-Pacific operations).
Fact: My role ceased to exist (in the new business structure).
Future: I am now seeking opportunities (probably in the A, B, or C industries that capitalise on my expertise in X, Y and Z).
- Move quickly past the facts, and focus your energy and passion on your future career goals.
Whether your immediate focus after role redundancy notification is considering a range of new career options or beginning to search for work opportunities, an important consideration is managing yourself. Consider nourishing your body, mind and spirit by:
- Taking a holiday or brief break from work routines, particularly before beginning the energetic task of engaging in search activity.
- Blending regular and ad hoc recreational activities into your daily and weekly activity mix.
The above tips will better position employees for role redundancy events. If followed, they will be better placed to execute their subsequent search activities.