Friday, December 28, 2012

The right way to restructure

Change is a part of life, and for a business’ life it’s no different. As the economy shrinks, markets open or practice differs, companies sometimes have to restructure to remain viable and prosperous.

But with restructuring comes a raft of problems, especially for the staff. As soon as they’re told there will be a restructure, the first thought is ‘Will I keep my job?’ followed by ‘If I do, will I lose the manager I like, my friendly colleagues, my most enjoyable tasks?’

Competition sets in as people vie for their jobs, or stop trying because they think they’ll be fired soon anyway.

Bronwyn Anderson, registered psychologist and managing director of Change Dynamics, which specialises in proving support for businesses going through a change process, has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of re-structures. She shared some words of wisdom with us.

Do your research

It sounds obvious, but restructures cannot be done on a whim. Since it can be a difficult process, make sure it’s worth it and is going to work. Anderson recommends finding examples to study. She also says that once a re-structure has been drafted, to take it to the staff.

At a recent DHB restructure she was involved in, management consulted employees beforehand and modified the restructure slightly before implementing it because of the extra information and feedback they received. 

Sell the change

It is absolutely crucial that everyone understands why the business is restructuring and is on-board with the changes. “If people aren’t involved, or don’t feel heard, they don’t accept the outcome and can create continual resistance. Even when it’s all over, if people afterwards are not understanding why it happened, they don’t engage with the new direction,” Anderson says. 

She stresses that middle management must be sold on the change as much as other staff are. After all, if they don’t lead it enthusiastically, then they won’t win over their teams. 

Be honest