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Ask L2: Company restructuring = potential communication disaster

"I'm trying to balance logical business needs with the people needs and experiences."

Disclaimer: Identities are kept confidential. The advice given here should be taken at your own risk. If you are having true mental or physical issues, please seek professional assistance.

I was interviewing for a CEO role and the org decided that they wanted both finalists so created a President position for me. The staff does not know this is happening. There's an existing COO who, in a purely rational structure, would probably report to the President since that position and scope of work generally falls under the President in a CEO/President structure, and is also work that I have the greatest expertise in and passion for. The concern is that the COO didn't even know that a President would be in the picture and they were planning on reporting to the CEO. If they were to report to me, it could essentially feel like a demotion due to the added layer. I'm trying to balance logical business needs with the people needs and experiences. I'd love your thoughts given your experience, if you're willing to share and have the time.


As someone who has been on the receiving end of company restructuring that was NOT communicated well, I very much appreciate your attention and sensitivity to this. Doing things the wrong way can create organizational upheaval that can quickly become toxicity.

The situation sounds complex, but the solution really isn’t. Be transparent. Let the affected people know that you’re concerned about how they will receive this and want them to be part of the decision making process. Let them know that they know the company better than you do at this point, and that their feedback is very important to making sure this is done right.

Does that mean that everyone will automatically trust that you have their best interests at heart? Nah. There may still be skeptics. There may be people who never buy in. You don’t know what their past experience with situations like this has been. You could probably never tell me enough about your good intentions to get me to just believe you in a situation like that because, well, trauma. BUT, you can be transparent about what’s possible, what you’re going to look into, what you’re working on and tell them as openly as possible when things don’t work.

It will be imperfect. No one is going to happy all the time. There may be people who are unhappy no matter what you do, but communicating and transparence will be the key to getting through as much as possible with as little overall harm as possible.



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