As your organization grows, technology changes, and products evolve, roles will naturally change as well. Reclassifying roles becomes necessary when either a litany of small changes or several larger ones have made parts or all of a role defunct, the role is misclassified and could be better moved to another department, or the role is otherwise not performing to its possible potential.

While this step is often necessary and valuable for organizations, it must be done carefully to avoid talent loss, especially in the case of senior and executive roles. Faced with change, many seniors will choose to leave rather than “be humiliated” by not knowing their job, which is a problem HR staff can easily prevent.

Involving Individuals in Role Reclassification

Any job reclassification requires a certain amount of role assessment and analysis, comparison with profiles, comparison with work being completed, and a final review. Senior employees involved in restructure can very easily contribute at any stage of this, contributing what they think their role should be doing, how tasks have changed, how much free time they have, and where they think their role would best-contribute to the organization. While not every person will offer valuable input here, involving people in change puts them in control, so that they feel as though they are steering change rather than being pushed along with it.

Communicating Reasons for Change

Role reclassification often stems from very specific reasons, which do not typically relate to individual performance. Communicating these reasons as well as the benefits of the change will be crucial in creating buy-in and acceptance of reclassification.

These reasons often relate to:

  • Changes in technology/tooling (software/code expertise requirement changes)
  • Changes in product
  • Changes in company direction
  • Changes in services
  • Restructuring teams or departments
  • Recognition of overlap in certain roles

For example, a person in an executive role may have previously managed a large team of 40 people. A company restructure relating to changing technology automating half of the work led to downsizing. The executive now manages 20 people with half the workload but hasn’t been assigned anything else. At the same time, they could add a great deal of value to new employees as a coach. Reclassifying the role to create one where half of the role’s responsibilities include coaching would cover the gap. Communicating this and how it would benefit the organization and the individual would help them to see it as an opportunity, rather than simply tacking on more responsibilities.

Offering Opportunities for Growth

One of the largest barriers to restructure is the simple concept that people are afraid of change. At the same time, many people are looking out for their futures, trying to grow, improve, and build their career, even from senior roles. Recognizing this and offering room for personal development and career advancement is important for talent retention.

This is more-so the truth when individuals are faced with a decrease in importance, pay-grade, or perks. Many people are more likely to leave than face a downgrade in their role, which means you have to manage their responsibilities or work to move them into a different role (if they are performing enough to warrant the shift).

Reclassifying roles can be difficult without losing anyone, but you can take steps to offer opportunities, clear communication, and involve affected individuals to prevent talent loss.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick