While it may seem like remaining employed after a company’s reorganization is reason for celebration, the reality is often not so rosy. A 2015 survey by research and training company Leadership IQ found that 74% of employees who kept their job after a corporate layoff said their productivity declined. Many report feelings of guilt, anxiety, and anger. Another 2016 study by the University of East Anglia in England found that even when companies are restructured without layoffs, restructuring has a mostly negative effect.
If you’ve been through a “re-org” and still have a job, getting over those negative feelings and finding your way is important for your future success, says Dave Popple, president of Psynet Group, an employee assessment firm. “If you survived a reorg, it is because your company saw value in you and believe that you can help them move forward,” he says. So, if you’re having trouble reconciling your feelings and taking advantage of the new opportunities before you, here is a seven-step plan.
Step 1: Recognize The Fallout
“The first thing is to understand what you’ve gone through,” says Neil Lewis, managing director of Working Transitions. The period leading up to the reorganization and the actual event itself can be stressful. Friends and colleagues may have been let go and your job or work environment may have changed, which can lead to feelings of sadness and loss, he says. Some people even feel “survivor’s guilt” for having kept their job while others lost theirs.
It’s okay to feel these emotions—pretending they aren’t there is just going to prolong the period until things start to feel normal again, Lewis says. If your organization offers resources to help you deal with the transition and related feelings, take advantage of them. You’re not alone in how you feel, Lewis says.
Step 2: Rebuild Your Confidence
Ironically, Lewis says that people who’ve left the organization and gone through job counseling and outplacement services may emerge more optimistic and feeling better about themselves than those who remain employed.
“They’ve rediscovered their transferable and marketable skills and attributes, then maybe got another job and that feels good, whereas the survivors are left behind, with the same old (and often more) work to do,” he says. It’s important to begin doing a skills inventory and finding ways to get excited about the work you’re doing again.
Step 3: Find Opportunities
After positions and roles have been redefined, there are often opportunities to take on stretch assignments or position yourself to build new skills, says Mitch Berlin, Americas operational transactions services leader at professional services firm EY. “If you’re part of a company that is being sold, for example, and let’s say it’s being sold to private equity buyer, it’s going to need a whole infrastructure that doesn’t exist potentially so it’s an opportunity for you to step up as well, into a new elevated role,” he says.
Seek out and volunteer for opportunities, and stay away from negative water cooler chatter. “That stuff gets back to leadership, and they know,” he says. As new roles are being formed and finalized, you can often find ways to get you closer to your long-term goals.
Step 4: Do A Gap Assessment
Berlin says you need about a month in any new role to truly understand what is being asked of you. After you’ve been in your redefined job for about four weeks, do a true gap assessment to determine if you have what you need to be successful, he suggests. Do you have the proper equipment and resources? Do you need additional training? Are you set up for success in your new role?
“And then be very clear with your manager: ‘This is what you told me what success is. I understand it. This is the team that I have. I need X, Y, and Z to be more successful,'” he says.
Step 5: Manage Up And Down
Just as you may be trying to figure out the emotions and implications of change, so are the people who manage you and the people you manage. Be sure to tend to those relationships and be sure that you’ve got a good understanding of what they’re asking and what their needs are within their new roles.
If you’re managing people who went through the reorganization, spend time with them to help them adapt and to calm their concerns about their jobs. You’ve got to help them get past survivor’s guilt and get them comfortable in their new roles, he says. “I think that the personal touch—I’m not talking about a lot of rah-rah sessions and team meetings and town halls, although those can be important, too—it’s really the personal touch, one-on-one with your direct reports, that is necessary at this time,” he says.
Step 6: Don’t Lose Your Contacts
Sometimes, employees are uncomfortable keeping in touch with the people who were let go. If those people were colleagues you valued, don’t lose them, Popple says. “Don’t be afraid to talk about them or to reach out to them,” he says. They’re an important part of your network and you may be feeling a sense of loss now that they’re not in the office. They may also be feeling forgotten, and hearing from you will likely be welcome. At the very least, connect with them on LinkedIn or other social media to keep in touch.
Step 7: Try to Embrace The Change
Once the dust has settled, try to find the silver lining in all of this change, Berlin says. Change is inevitable today, and those who are naysayers or who resist it are going to “find themselves on the wrong side of a transaction,” he says. Make the best out of the situation as you look for new opportunities.
“Those people are recognized by leadership and those are the people that are going to be rewarded for going the extra mile, for having the right attitude, for helping to be change agents for the organization,” he says.