Alessandra Patti

FindYourWay Coaching - Zurich

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The drama behind the word "restructuring"

February 2, 2018

I wonder. Why would they call it "restructuring" anyways? It is clear that, by means of firing people, as a result you have a new structure within an organization. According to one of my favorite linguistic source, Wordreference.com, a restructuring is equivalent to "effect a fundamental change", which will be certainly true in the case of an organization.

 

But, when it's time to communicate it to the employees, when you basically have to tell people that there will be a new structure within the organization because they will be no longer needed, it is something totally different.

 

For transparency and clear communication, using words such as "letting you go", "restructuring", "laying off" seem to be very negative and misleading. Who is going to be "restructured"? And where are you letting someone go? Not to mention the use of "pursuing other interests" when the company wants to communicate internally that a person has been fired.

People react to this. And companies know, so why don't we think about changing the terminology? The first thing I think when I read "pursuing other interest" is that the person is getting fired, and that this should be kept a secret, because it is shameful, probably. That is exactly the point. Unless you did something really bad at work, why would it be shameful to realize that probably a certain job is not meant for you?

 

For the first instance, people getting fired because of structural changes, the shame feeling might be felt by the company, and this is reflected in their communications. Maybe for not being able to offer a better solution, or for not being able to commit to what was promised. For the second case, the shame is on the employees, because when you hear the word "fired", it gets directly linked to performance and to something that the employee failed to do. And in our society this is shameful. Maybe it is a simple-minded thought, but when I hear "I got re-structured" made me think of some kind of roadwork or building being renewed.

 

I encourage to call it for what it is. It is hard to say, like during a break up, there is no easy or polite way of saying it. But at least the employees would know the truth and they could say that they worked for a transparent company. I would suggest to use the following lines:

"Mr/Ms/Miss XXX services will be no longer needed in the company", or something like:

" Unfortunately, due to our financial situation, we have to cut 20 jobs. This means that the whole finance department will be transferred and/or unfortunately fired and subsequently renewed".

 

RENEWAL is a positive word!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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