Making a success of a major reorganisation
Technologies and markets are now moving so fast that few organisations escape the need to reorganise. Reorganisation is rarely easy and never simple but there are some things that I have learnt painfully over the years that may help.
1. Make change long term and inspirational
All change, particularly changes to culture, take time: between 1 – 3 years. You can (and should) look for quick wins but to change an organisation takes time and persistence. Change is exciting for some, threatening for most. Good reorganisations inspire people about the future. Paint a picture of how your company will look when the changes are made. Build opportunity and excitement. If you do not you will lose your good people.
2. Begin with your strategic objectives
Be very clear why you need to reorganise. Is it to take advantage of new opportunities; is it to cut costs; is it to change the skill base of the company; is it to integrate a new acquisition? Think through what you are trying to achieve. What are your top three strategic objectives? What people and processes will you need to achieve them? NEVER, EVER start with an organisation chart. What you have to change is how people do things, changing who they work for will not do that.
3. Think SCARF
SCARF is a great thinking model to minimise the organisational impact of change. As human beings we are programmed to react to threats by shutting down logical thinking and running as fast as we can away from the threat. In the 21st century, the threats are:
Try to minimise status changes as far as possible and make sure that you are clear about the rationale for change.
People can deal with most things except uncertainty. Uncertainty fuels the rumour mill. Be honest and if you cannot tell people when things are going to happen then give them a date on which you will tell them.
Involve people in planning their futures as much as you possibly can. After all they know more about how the organisation works than you do.
Make sure people are not left out of the communication and decision making process. The more people feel they are in the loop the more supportive they will be.
Be as fair as you can and if you cannot then explain why.
4. Be ruthless
The worst reorganisations are those that go slowly. If you have to cut jobs cut hard and cut once. Be kind, be fair but be fast. Yes, you will make some mistakes but getting through change quickly allows organisations to move on.
5. Over communicate
You can never communicate enough, ever. Getting communication right will mean that it feels to you as though you are saying the same thing over and over again. You will be and people will appreciate it.
6. Focus on the future
Reorganisations that involve change and redundancy tend to focus managers and HR departments on those who are going, rather than those who are staying. Be fair to those who are leaving but focus on the future and make sure that those who are staying are inspired by the future strategy.