What is a Shakeup

A shakeup is a broad reorganization of a company that involves a drastic change in personnel, operations or structure, or a sea change in a marketplace. Company shakeups can happen for a variety of reasons, but some common themes are company underperformance, alleged misdeeds or illegal activity, a change in ownership, a need for a significant change in focus or to change the culture of an organization. In such circumstances a shakeup in personnel at the upper levels of management are not uncommon. They may be demanded by shareholders, the public or based on the demands of public relations as a means of management public perception. A shakeup in a market or marketplace entails a transformation in which previous practices, expectations and assumptions no longer hold true.

Breaking Down Shakeup

A corporate shakeup may entail the removal of a CEO, an entire board of directors, or a company's executive and management team. A shakeup in a business or organizational structure could see the replacement of leadership that signals a change in thinking and intent. Shakeups can be either subtle or drastic, either effecting a small group of executives or having a huge impact across an organization.

A shakeup may be instigated or demanded by shareholders, the public or based on the demands of public relations as a means of managing public perception. In most cases a shakeup is deliberate as in a corporate reorganization, though they may also happen as a reaction to unexpected event, such as the departure of a key leader. Most shakeups are conducted to improve operations, efficiency or profitability, though some shakeups may occur to break up companies.

Shakeup Examples

Nike Inc. Chief Executive Mark Parker had to saw his heir-apparent resign in March 2018 one week after claims of inappropriate workplace behavior came to light. Addressing the shakeup, Parker said the company has “a deep leadership bench.” 

In March 2018, President Donald Trump's national security team had a shakeup that saw the dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the hiring of Mike Pompeo as his replacement, the naming of John Bolton as national security advisor and a decreased role for advisor Jared Kushner.  

Shakeup: Tips for Surviving One

Corporate shakeups are common enough that many workers will feel the impact from one or more over the course of their careers. Shakeups can cause workplace uncertainty and stress but there are ways to try to tip the scale in your favor. For example, despite the temptation to keep your head down, workers should attempt to take on leadership roles as shakeups can provide opportunities to valuable staff. Workers should also endeavor to keep an open mind when things change. Reacting negatively is pointless; trying to mold new practices or policies to one's needs works better over the long run. Workers in a shakeup keep their ears open; information is vital to surviving a shakeup.