Last year, every other work-related story seemed to be about the ‘Great Resignation.’ Millions of workers were going to quit their jobs, follow their dreams and completely change their careers, leaving the current employers high and dry. As we move into a tougher economic climate, with global tech giants like Google, Salesforce and Twitter announcing thousands of redundancies, the ‘Great Resignation’ feels so 2022.
Now, stories are appearing about the ‘Great Regret’, with those people who did decide to switch roles now apparently believing it was a huge mistake and the grass wasn’t in fact greener. While there is some truth in both the ‘Great Resignation’ and the ‘Great Regret’, it is likely that both trends have been exaggerated to make explosive headlines.
What is clear is that employees will no longer put up with being taken for granted. They want to do work that has meaning, they want their efforts to be appreciated and they want their employer to support their wellbeing. If they don’t get these things from their current employer, they are more likely to seek these things elsewhere.
2023 is shaping up to be full of challenges for employers, many are taking the opportunity now to assess how they should operate going forward. With hybrid working here to stay and employees demanding greater flexibility, many companies are reviewing their structure and processes.
Restructuring looks set to be a key theme of 2023. This means many organisations will go through change and this is often unsettling and disconcerting for employees. With so many uncertainties in the world generally, having to deal with them at work too can cause additional stress and anxiety.
This blog will examine why organisations go through change, what a successful restructure looks like and provide some tips for managers and employees on how to navigate their way through these choppy waters.
Why organisations undertake major restructuring
There are many different reasons why organisations may restructure. Some are prompted by internal catalysts, such as a new CEO coming in or a new product launch. Others are associated with external factors such as competitor activity or the wider economic environment.
One of the few certainties in business is that change is inevitable. Throughout history, humans have evolved, seeking to improve and find better processes to make life easier. Technological innovations have speeded up this rate of change. Those companies who stand still will fall behind their competitors; embracing change is vital for any company to not just survive but thrive.
Performance management data allows leaders to spot signs on the horizon
Successful leaders are continuously scanning the horizon, spotting changes and calculating how they might affect their organisation. What differentiates the proactive leader from the reactive leader is their interest in, and access to, high quality performance management data. Exceptional leaders use systems and reporting to track performance trends and to react fast and decisively.
The fundamentals of successful restructures at the organisational level
Whatever is driving the restructure, it’s important that senior leaders plan and implement a new strategy and structure following a clear process. While this should be adjusted to take into account the individual organisation, its culture, values and objectives, it should cover the following areas:
- A sound strategy - the first step needs to be deciding on what changes are needed to achieve your objectives. Without defining the problem clearly, it will be impossible to create an effective new structure.
- A clear vision for success - getting everyone to buy into the new strategy will be vital. To do this, you need to communicate this effectively in a compelling way to employees, customers, investors and any other key stakeholders.
- Credible, responsible, quick decision taking - once the strategy and vision are clear, the next thing to do is to act on them. This needs to be done quickly, but also in a very humane way that takes into account people’s feelings and how the changes will affect them.
- Open, transparent, adult-to-adult communication - from the beginning of this process right through to the conclusion, it's really important that there is honest, transparent communication that informs everyone why the change is necessary and how it will be achieved. Everyone involved should also have a chance to express their views and feel like their voice is being heard.
- Flexibility and a willingness to pivot - be prepared to adapt your plans if your proposed restructure needs to be tweaked. What looks good in theory doesn’t always work in practice, so listen to feedback and be ready to make adjustments if needed.
Survival tips for managers
From our experience of working with companies going through a restructure, here are five tips we’ve picked up that can help managers navigate their way through the process smoothly:
- Insist on getting as much information from senior leaders as possible. This will not only put your own mind at rest, it will help your employees too. Knowing what and when to share it with them and being as transparent as possible will help dispel any unease or tension.
- Think about how you can translate company strategy into team goals. This is easier to achieve if you have shorter review cycles, for example every quarter, where you are working towards shorter term aims. The more robust your performance management process, the simpler this will be to achieve. This might be a little unclear to begin with, but making the effort will help to crystallise the new structure and ensure employees are working towards relevant goals.
- As this is likely to be a period of uncertainty, increased the number of check-ins covering wellbeing as well as performance delivery. Making sure employees are comfortable with the change can prevent unnecessary stress or disengagement.
- Introduce mini engagement pulse surveys for the team, with around three to five questions that will take about a minute to answer. This will tell you how employees are feeling about the restructure and how their sentiment changes over time.
- Think about your workplace and team dynamics. Does the way that you work fit in with the new restructure? Do you need to revise your approach? Putting a Hybrid Charter in place that clearly sets out expectations for both managers and employees could be really useful.
Survival tips for employees
For a restructure to be successful, employees need to embrace it too. If the restructure is imposed without any consultation, there are bound to be objections and resentments. To help employees engage with the process, we suggest sharing with them the following three tips:
- Make sure your personal progress towards achieving performance objectives are up to date. This demonstrates your commitment to your role and the organisation and could highlight that you are ready to take on extra responsibilities in a new structure.
- Take an active interest in your company’s strategy. Look for early warning signs that change maybe on the horizon so that you can prepare yourself for any changes and they don’t come as a complete surprise.
- Invest in your own personal development through the huge amount of free readily accessible self-guided learning that is now available online - podcasts, learning materials, Ted Talks etc. Take control of your own destiny and develop a clear vision for your career.
How performance management can harmonise the workplace after a restructure
A merger prompted Clarity Travel to consider how they could bring separate workforces together, used to different cultures and ways of working. To create unity across the new organisation and help embed new structures they updated their performance management process.