Career clinic. What is a reorganisation? Will I lose my job? Alison Sanger advises

Q My organisation has announced that it is having a “reorganisation”. Does this mean I’m going to lose my job?

A Not necessarily! A typical, non-committal management response, you might think. On the contrary. It could be that nothing noticeably changes in your life. Or it could also be a chance to change your existing job for ­something better.

The issue is about choice. Many of us have happily chosen to leave a job for one which (as advertised) offers more flexible working, lower travel costs, quicker promotion prospects, whatever is important to each of us. We have chosen to leave a job behind for our individual reasons, which have nothing to do with our employer’s aspirations.

Some organisations change for change sake and we, the people doing the job, don’t feel any impact in terms of what we do or how we do it. Other organisations make an effort to initiate meaningful change in the way they deliver their services which does have an impact on each of us.

I recently spent three months reorganising a group of about 700 staff. It was a genuine reorganisation, with new job descriptions and person specifications. Everyone from the senior management team downwards had to apply for the jobs in the new organisation, and many people, including senior, middle and junior managers were unsuccessful in applying for their chosen posts, and were invited for a debrief.

During one such debrief, my “candidate” was clearly becoming emotional as he stood up and picked me up by the shoulders. Then he gave me the biggest hug ever, and told me that he was stressed and anxious every time he came to work, knew he couldn’t do the job as it should be done, and therefore hated it. He told me he had wanted to resign for a year or so, but his wife wouldn’t let him – and he thanked me with all his heart for giving him a bona fide reason for “losing his job”.

Other organisations don’t necessarily see the benefit in helping with the management of change. Nevertheless, there should be communication about what is planned to happen, and what we all need to do during that process. The human resources department and recognised trade unions or staff associations all have the same goal: to help us individuals, particularly if there is a reorganisation in the offing.

The notion of choice is the critical thing to hold on to here. Exercise your choice about whether to stay where you are, to apply for promotion, or look for something else, and possibly something completely different!

Alison Sanger is a social care HR consultant

A I have been involved in three “reorganisations” in the past 10 years and, in my experience, how bad they are depends on who is in charge. They rarely result in people losing their jobs – they tend to be more about jobs changing. I have always found that the key to getting on top of this was finding someone in the know who could explain why the reorganisation was happening and why my job needed to change. This helps make sense of why you are being asked to hand over parts of your job that you like or to take on new things you didn’t used to do (although that won’t necessarily make either more acceptable). Ultimately, if you don’t like what’s on offer, it’s worth looking outside the organisation at what is available elsewhere.

Name and address withheld

Next week’s question

Q: My manager has written to me asking me to attend a performance management meeting with her and a personnel officer. I feel I am being outgunned and want to take my solicitor with me but they won’t agree to it. What are my rights? What do you think?

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