This is the kind of stuff that can grey your hair quickly. It doesn’t win you popularity contest. The benefits are not immediate. The rumour mills can often beat you. Bottomline, it’s not for the faint-hearted. I have been fortunate to have led a number of them over the years, and am still living to tell the story.
There are a number of ways to execute this. My style is to do it quickly and surgically.
Firstly structure follows strategy, and any transformation needs to be driven by the way forward strategy approved by the Board and the CEO.
Furthermore since new structures result in role changes, to get the management team to approve them is inappropriate – remember they are conflicted. It’s all very well to say that they will take a corporate/impartial view of it – that’s all theory. They tend to very much look at it from their own perspective, and also tend to think of the structure in context of the existing strategy and processes. The closest you will get to an impartial reviewer of new structure is the board, and potentially the CEO.
The CEO often also has to be reminded to wear the corporate hat, and not be swayed by his close colleagues within the management team. HR should also be involved at the appropriate point.
There is always pressure to announce it to the larger audience. The CEO is bombarded, people indicate they are nervous. My view is you only communicate when you are clear what you want to communicate and to whom.
Those who are performing well, are never nervous. The ones that are nervous tend to be ones who are unsure of their performance, and they need to be nervous. The first presentation should be a summary of the strategy to the overall senior management team. This gives them context to the organisational change that is about to come. I have never opened out a new structure to a management forum – all hell tends to break lose, and people immediately start jockeying.
Then a set of one-on-one meetings needs to happen with those to be reassigned. HR gives them a letter confirming their new position. Also have their new job description ready, and a presentation outlining the role and strategy of the unit/role they are about to take over.
These meetings need to be back-to-back and finished over a couple of days, and as much as possible the cutover date to the new position should be within four-seven days of being handed the letter. Also preferably, as many are done on the same day the better. People will also say that they need more time to handover.
My view is core handover should happen, the rest can happen when the person is in the new role, after all he/she hasn’t left the organisation. On the day of the cut-over, make sure you set up a help desk, so that the employees can walk over and ask questions/clarifications once in the new position. Without delay targets need to be provided for the new position, and potential an incentive should be announced for those who will facilitate effectively the organisational change.
The above works well where you are not cutting headcount. Restructuring with a headcount reduction – well, that’s another story. Get your helmets on, it’ a story for another day !
– The writer is managing directorof Cedar Management Consulting International.