Get in touch

Interested in working together? United Minds wants to hear from you. From strategy to implementation, United Minds partners with your team to understand what you need and how to get there. We’re there every step of the way. Find out how we can help you.

    Restructuring: it’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it

    Written by Kieran Coleville

    Restructuring and layoffs are an unfortunate reality for organisations right now as global economic conditions remain uncertain.  The recent waves of layoffs we have seen in leading tech companies have provided powerful cases where leaders have acted with empathy and transparency. 

    But there are also cases where leaders have acted too impulsively, eroding trust with both the employees leaving and staying, resulting in damaged reputation and performance.  Nobody wins from approaches like these, so what can other leaders learn from it? 

    Companies need to properly think through and plan the people side of their transformation efforts. This needs to be done upfront and with careful consideration, not as an afterthought. The change must then be done in a way that is truly human, empathetic and supportive. “Firm but fair” is a phrase for a reason; you can still make hard calls in the right way. 

    We’ve helped numerous organisations during times like this and the same advice stands true in almost every case. Whether it’s a restructure, down-sizing, divestment, separation, merger or acquisition, there is a simple principle to keep front of mind:  

    It’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it that matters.

    Based on experience, there are three questions we’re asked in almost every single programme we’ve run. 

    How and when should we engage and communicate with people?  

    • Take a human approach. Communicate with genuine empathy, thinking through how people will respond and tailoring your approach, tone and language.  You can use simple psychology and tools like the change curve to help plan 
    • Provide an anchor. Make sure the change aligns to your values and purpose so it is authentic and consistent 
    • Be timely and transparent. Confidentiality is usually a factor in these types of changes for legal reasons, but don’t leave it till the last minute to communicate. Also make sure to not only discuss what is happening but also why it’s happening and what it means for them 

    How do we manage risks? 

    • Risks usually start with people. Common risks associated with a sensitive change like a restructure (unforeseen walkouts, leaks, rumours, reputational issues) all involve people.  Think through the psychology of change and how people will react and behave to inform the change and communications plan 
    • Scenario plan. Changes like these never go perfectly. Explore all the viable scenarios (including the potential fallouts) to inform your change strategy and plan 
    • Keep it tight, but not too tight. Keeping the “in-the-know” group to a minimum is wise at the beginning, but make sure you bring in leaders as early as possible. They’ll be going through the change curve too and will need time to process and prepare before briefing their teams 

     How do we remain adaptable?  

    • Build in listening points from the outset. As soon as you can communicate, start listening as well.  Listening activities can make or break a change strategy. Feeling heard is the first step to employees coping with change, and gathering feedback will help you to manage potential risks
    • Keep a pulse on wider organisational and external changes. Keep abreast of the latest developments or pivots in the organisational strategy so you can react fast and adjust the plan accordingly 
    • Review points are critical. Schedule regular formal touchpoints at the beginning and around critical announcements, so you are reviewing feedback and managing risks, before reducing the cadence as you get into the change

    Want to talk through your upcoming change or further understand best practices? Send us a note ( We’re happy to chat.  

    United Minds is a consultancy dedicated to making business more human. We help organisations navigate the people side of change including restructures, mergers, acquisitions and other significant transformations. 

    With our team’s blend of psychology expertise, change management experience, strategic thinking, and creative communications capability, we can help organisations navigate complexity, position the change, and avoid the pitfalls.