The word ‘restructure’ usually sends shivers down colleague’s spines; what they actually hear is ‘redundancies’ and assume the business is in difficulty or that automation will take over jobs. However, there are often good reasons why a business should restructure, particularly if it’s growing and diversifying. Too often, business leaders don’t restructure because it falls into the ‘too difficult’ category, but ‘making do’ with the status quo will ultimately restrict business success.
Do I need to restructure?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have the right functions for the current direction and ambitions?
- Is there effective decision making?
- Is the structure effective and efficient? Do managers have the right number of people reporting to them?
- Is it clear who is accountable for what and how they are being measured?
- Does the structure allow for agility and change?
If some of the answers are ‘no’, it’s time to consider whether your current structure has the capability and capacity that your business needs.
Seven steps to a successful business restructure
1. Where do you start a restructure? Well, you start at the end. This is the most important piece of advice I can give. Forget what is now – consider where you are going, what the business goals are and what you need to do to deliver them. Draw a picture if it helps – you can refer to it when you start to get bogged down with the detail later on.
2. Involve the people who know best – ie those who work for you. There is a misconception that restructures should be done behind closed doors until the big announcement when colleagues are told of the changes. But if you openly discuss the end goals with colleagues, and listen to their views on how to achieve them, you’re likely to get better results and higher levels of engagement and trust, which can so often be lost in these processes. Colleagues might not like the changes at first, especially if there are redundancies, but they’ll at least understand why they’re necessary.
3. Once you define a structure, consider how it will be implemented and the implications for colleagues. Roles might change significantly and some colleagues will be expected to do some different tasks. My advice here is, stay objective and be consistent, do not compromise on the skills that you need and remember it’s about the right structure for the business goals, it isn’t personal.
4. There must be a communication plan. You can’t underestimate the power of communication. Your plan must consider those impacted, onlookers and external stakeholders. The rumour mill works quickly, so get on the front foot and ensure the information comes from you. Provide regular updates, don’t forget to keep explaining the why and if there is no update, say there is no update. Keep the channels for two-way communication open; silence will fuel the grapevine and bring distrust.
5. Make decisions quickly – that doesn’t mean don’t give them proper consideration, but don’t deliberate and draw out the uncertainty for colleagues. As you work through restructures, colleagues may be considered for other roles, there may be challenge to proposals or there may be new pieces of information that come to light. All of these are healthy and will ensure that the end result is the right result for the business. Be clear who the decision makers are so that they don’t have to be made by committee.
6. Change management: as the new structure is implemented, colleagues need to be clear about what is now expected and then supported through the transitional period. It’s always a good idea to have key people trained in managing through change. You could offer bite-sized sessions to colleagues, too.
7. Once the structure is in place, measure and evaluate regularly to see how things are going. This ensures that the business needs are being delivered by the structure (and gives the opportunity to tweak things if needed). It’s also an opportunity to share with colleagues that things are working and that the restructure was done for good reason. This builds trust with colleagues, particularly those who may have been sceptical at first.
Restructure is a part of business; the longer people are employed, the better they understand this. If you’re open, transparent and ensure your colleagues are involved, they’ll remember how you handled these changes, which will feed into the employee brand you create externally.
Do you need to restructure your business? People Puzzles’ experienced HR Directors can help you through the process every step of the way. Call us on 020 3633 6830 to find out more.
Claire Merton, People Director