All businesses, regardless of size, will likely need to undertake some form of organisational restructuring during their lifecycle. For some businesses, it is a constant and inevitable challenge. As with anything in business, restructures can be done well, or they can be done poorly. When done well, they can help secure profitable long-term growth for the business. Likewise, if care and thought are not applied, you can fall foul of many pitfalls. The following steps are designed to help you avoid the pitfalls and maximise the benefits of your restructuring programmes.
1. Define the problem accurately and align structure and strategy
Determine whether existing roles and structures are appropriate to help you execute your business strategy effectively. Consider the factors that contribute to the effectiveness of the roles and structures. It is essential to ensure that structure and strategy are aligned. If they are not, you will be hindered or prevented from successfully exploiting your strategy.
2. Appoint an appropriate team to lead the change project
It is crucial to assemble a team with members that have outstanding project management and change management expertise, as well as the necessary status and reputation within the organisation. It is also important that the team members are allocated dedicated time to carry out their function correctly and that it is not just another add-on task for already busy individuals. They need to define the action plan and timeline, gain organisation-wide buy-in, make decisions and handle any issues arising in a sensitive manner, but with the focus firmly on the strategic objectives.
3. Define and then communicate clearly the vision for success – the “why” and the “what”
As with any successful project, the end goal must be clearly defined, and all planning must be directed at achieving the goal. The reasons for the restructure must always be at the forefront of activities in order for it to be successful. Communicating the vision creates understanding and acceptance, and consistent, ongoing dialogue is indispensable to avoid rumour and speculation, which are always harmful. Visualising the future and then relating it back to the “why” and then the details of the plan to deliver the “what” is really key for the employees. These messages need to come from as far up the organisation as possible. Keep communicating any changes or issues from inside and outside sources; take control of communication for the best possible outcome. Poor communication is the largest single cause of failed change management projects, so it is essential to put together a professional communication strategy, including a timeline for incremental communication, key messages and communication channels and media.
4. Provide managers with the support and skills to deliver the changes
Communicating and delivering the changes can be an extremely daunting challenge for managers. This is even more the case if there is uncertainty around their own futures, which can make it difficult for them to be able to offer full and heartfelt support for their teams. To help overcome these challenges, it is important to provide appropriate training and clarity for managers and to ensure that the company’s key messages are not undermined.
5. Consult and engage with employees
This must continue throughout the organisational restructure. The size of your organisation will dictate legal obligations for collective and individual consultation, depending on the size of the changes. However, genuine consultation is beneficial to both parties and creates trust and collaboration. Good training, as previously mentioned, will help deliver this and will result in increased levels of employee engagement.
6. Create the vision and culture for the future
Culture is moulded by the behaviours that are accepted, celebrated and rewarded in the organisation. Performance management systems, competencies and reward policies support the culture you are trying to create. A restructure can redeploy people within an organisation, but the organisation will not change fundamentally unless people’s behaviour changes. Give staff a reason to behave differently and communicate this at every possible opportunity.
7. Deal with difficult decisions effectively
The leadership team must address all difficult decisions head on and not ignore them. These may involve company politics concerning senior or long-serving employees, existing trade union agreements and lucrative compensation precedents set during previous restructures. If handled badly, disillusion and cynicism will result and slow the process down. It is important to remember that survivors of the restructure will have to be re-engaged and motivated if the organisation is to become effective again.
8. Keep the right people in your organisation
You need the right people with the right skills to take forward the vision for the future. Retaining the correct people is vital. Look for forward thinkers, not those still celebrating past successes. Use all available methods to select the right people to stay in your organisation, such as assessment centres, competency interviews and similar tools. In addition, getting everything back on track will be made so much easier if those that are staying are treated well.
9. Stay focused
Ensure that, once new people are appointed into their roles and redundancies have taken place, this is not considered to be the end of the project. In effect, it is only the beginning. Energy levels can flag, but the restructure will not be seen as successful until the benefits which prompted it are delivered. This will not happen overnight, so ensure that responsibility is given to individuals to ensure the change and organisational culture aspects are delivered.
10. Celebrate successful milestones as they occur
Achieving a successful restructure does not occur in one day, so each success along the way is invaluable and can serve to remind everyone just how important the restructure was in the first place. Therefore, it is essential to celebrate every little success on the journey, such things as measurable efficiencies achieved, increased customer satisfaction ratings, people successfully placed in new roles, etc.
Contact Outsourcing HR for advice on your restructures
Professional advice and support from Outsourcing HR can help you avoid pitfalls and deliver the desired benefits from your restructuring projects. Contact us today for a no-obligation discussion. Simply call 07894-546333 or email Margaret Keane.