“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading” — Lao Tzu

“We’re Restructuring” — 10 Pitfalls and Solutions of Transformation

“Today we announce a corporate restructure that will bring value to our clients & shareholders, and support a more efficient organization for our employees”

Ever heard something along these lines before?

If you’ve worked for any non-start-up organization, I’m almost certain you have.

Normally lethargic confusion ensues along with sitcom-esque scenarios that have eerie similarity to the classic change management movie “Office Space”

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are 10 pitfalls of large organizational restructures followed by 10 solutions that support meaningful transformation efforts across an organization.

10 Pitfalls of Organizational Restructures

  1. We’re going to reshuffle you around and then ask you to do the same job again. It’s like playing solitaire with your career development: the card you need will be stuck one card back and no matter how many times you shuffle through, you will see it, but you can’t have it…
  2. We will now only communicate in powerpoint. Talking is wasted air if it’s not documented in a coloured shape on a powerpoint slide. If you had gone to a top Business School you would understand.
  3. A horde of consultants will take an office room hostage for 4–10 weeks. They will cover it with large A3 sheets. Never ask them about their A3 sheets.
  4. You will get a second boss and neither will know what you actually do.
  5. Your team name will change into something that is 4–7 words long but doesn’t mean anything so will need to be put it in an acronym. The Process Optimisation for Organized Procedure Team. Yep, you now work for…
  6. At least one senior executive will be asked to step down, refuse, and then be named a “specialist advisor”.
  7. Your tangible tasks will now be monitored in detailed “KPI” report. Luckily, these normally will not actually capture the intangible aspects of your day job that add value.
  8. The business will focus on cutting costs. That requires hiring top-tier leadership to manage employees & hiring consultants to manage the management. This increase in expenditures will largely offset with the cost of mid-level redundancies. That’s what I call Process Optimisation for Organized Procedure!
  9. A successful day in the office will start to switch from creating value-add for the customer to clearing your inbox which has become cluttered with transformation meetings, KPI reports, data requests, and formal OpCo, HoldCo, ExCo, etc. committees.
  10. Meetings. You will have a lot of meetings. It’s time to invest in a more comfortable wardrobe as you’re going to spend a majority of your day sitting in chairs that lack lumbar-support.

Sound like your transformation effort? Have a laugh, but don’t be cynical. You can affect change in your organization in times of transformation without losing the heart of what you do.

Let’s go through each of the above 1 by 1:

10 Solutions to Organizational Restructure

  1. Organizational hierarchies and the people within them are not a deck of cards — don’t just expect change by default, affect change by design. Understand what “card” each individual needs to have a full house and work to make sure they get it even if it means they leave your area. Organizations are webs, not silo’s, and having friends across the the corporate network will help both you and them in the long-run.
  2. The medium of communication has changed with technology, but how we communicate is still the same. Powerpoint, emails, and spreadsheets are not communication tools — they are management tools. In times of change, don’t just send and/or read out how things are changing. Put technology down, and pick communication up — communicate with your team at their point of need, not just yours.
  3. If your business really feels the need to hire external consultants, you can still turn this into a productive outcome. Don’t lock them in a room to make exclusive decisions. Find a way to integrate consultants with your team so that they not only understand the front-end, but the back-end of the value-chain.
  4. Clarity propels an organization. Ambiguity brings it to a halt. Make sure each member of your business understands with in-your-face clarity who they work for, why they work for them, and what they are working to achieve.
  5. A name is an identity, a reflection of purpose, of background, of self. Treat the name of your team with the same respect you would have naming your first child. It does make a difference. Don’t try to describe your mandate through an acronym, it’s ok to have some ambiguity as it allows your to grow as your mandate changes. Think, General Electric, Apple, Microsoft, Uber, etc — give your team a name that makes it unique to you and your goals and memorable to those who come across it.
  6. Change is necessary, but it isn’t always fair. Treat each individual with respect, regardless of how the organization is dictating their value. There will come a time where you value a culture where grace & humbleness is important. So start while you’re ahead.
  7. There’s a management saying, “Managers must have the discipline not to keep pulling up the flowers to see if their roots are healthy”. Key visual indicators are important for determining the health of your organization and team, just like the health of a flower. However, don’t forget that the roots below bring the richness of life to both — monitor the soil you’ve asked people to grow in before judging and determining their health.
  8. The cost “J-curve” of change programs and transformation can be a real outcome. Sometimes it does take short-term investment to drive the right type of cost behaviours over the long-run. However, make sure you have a clear understanding that all decisions have a tangible long-term outcome, not only a short-term trade-off between different layers of employees.
  9. Employee’s saying they’re “busy” is mask — sometimes a mask to say “leave me alone, I’m being productive”, other times, “I can’t handle the influx of meeting invites and emails that I am sent and cc’d”. As a manager, take time to understand which “busy” mask your employee’s are wearing. Your customer does not find value in your employee’s inbox — find & provide direction for what is being a drag on your employee’s time — they will thank you with value-add to both you and your customer.
  10. Face-to-face meetings can be highly productive & impactful ways to make decisions. However, this is true when only the decision makers are in the room and the tangible purpose of the meeting is deafening clear. In times of change, there is no room for passengers and no time for tick-box committees. Support your team to only use meetings for decisions that cannot be made one-to-one or through other communication channels.

If you like the article click the 💚 below. Don’t forget to follow!