GUEST BLOG – The Emotion Behind a Restructure

We are speaking to many businesses throughout New Zealand who are unsure whether the solution for their business right now is to restructure. For most, it feels daunting; there is a genuine fear of getting it wrong and ending up with an even more daunting legal bill. Worse than that is the deep emotional scar it could leave on their people.

Consultation: New Zealand employment laws stipulate that staff must be consulted on every aspect of a redundancy or restructure before the final decision to either make someone redundant or to disestablish their role. 

This blog is not about the ins and outs of how to restructure. You can find that information on many websites and a google search will return hundreds of articles. So long as you act in good faith, follow the legal steps to the letter and flow consultation through every step you take, you will be safe. You can find details of the process here –


If you have done the numbers, reviewed them a second time, a third time, and it is glaringly obvious that restructuring the team is the sensible commercial choice, many business owners are then faced with a completely new set of issues – emotions. We see and hear about fear, guilt, sadness; the list is long and emotions don’t wait for your schedule to be able to fit them it. They just turn up.

Most business owners or HR people will experience a vast range of emotions, from a sense that their hands are tied and that it is for the good of the business at one end, to huge guilt and a feeling it is somehow their fault that the business has not performed better at the other end.

The reality is, this is happening, and it is happening right now. You have looked at the facts, triple checked the numbers. It can be tough because this is your tribe, often your work family, but it is necessary. The alternative is no business and no jobs for anyone, including you.

Be sure to look after yourself through this process. Enroll the support of a mentor, business coach or a trusted advisor/friend to ensure you deal with any emotions, unexpected or otherwise, that come up for you.


No, we can’t plan for when emotions can turn up, but preparation can help you with the hardest of tasks. The proposed restructure conversation with your team can be likened to one of the most important sales meetings you have ever had with a potential client. That one where you know you won the business because you were superbly prepared, outlined your facts carefully and asked key open ended questions at a calculated time.

Once the decision has been made about which jobs will be cut, it falls on someone to deliver the bad news. One of the hardest things is that you have no idea how the person will react, and that can be incredibly stressful. What you are communicating is on the level of bereavement and sometimes it is a bit like Russian roulette: people can be incredibly aggressive, some cannot stop crying. On the flip side, they may be expecting this outcome and be a lot calmer than you anticipated.

Delivering news of a proposed restructure to your team is not the time to wing it. The more prepared you are, the less their questions and shock reactions will throw you off your game. Emotions don’t adhere to a timetable; can’t be planned for, but you can plan your preparation of what information and message you deliver.

Help them understand the rationale behind the proposed restructure – and usually it is so the business can continue – and to make sure that even though the circumstances are difficult, you have done the best possible job.


You will feel better about your process when you create an environment where your people can go home knowing exactly what support is available, what their package is, what will happen and when, and to have it all in writing.

Support in our modern world is no longer just about equipping individuals with the skills to find their next job; it is about proactively branding and connecting them with their next job so that they transition faster and better.

We could share dozens of stories with you about where redundant employees have quickly gone on to enjoy an optimistic outlook that has led to a complete career change or a serendipitous meeting and opportunity and they’ve never looked back. Some can be found here –

Ask your business network for recommendations to be sure you engage with effective consultants to offer support to your affected employees. We highly recommend you choose a qualified career coach with proven results and a sound program specifically designed to support employees through a redundancy type situation.

You can check out our Career Reboot here


Do your calculations carefully and make sure the restructure proposal is based on sound business reasons and those reasons are clearly articulated.

Ensure that the process and decision-making is compliant with the procedures and criteria set out in employment law, any employment agreement or employer policies.

Consult! Offer every employee a proper opportunity to give feedback on the proposal before a decision is made and carefully consider that feedback. Outline your reasons if that feedback is not accepted.

Ensure criteria are rational and clearly explained and are consulted on.

Enroll the support of a mentor, business coach or a trusted advisor/friend to ensure you deal with any emotions, unexpected or otherwise that come up for you. Prepare as much as you can.

Offer support to affected employees to help them stay as optimistic as they can throughout this process.

Good luck with your decision making and if you do find yourself amidst a proposed restructure, we wish you well. It’s never easy, but you will get through this.