Dear Leaders:  Before You Re-Structure Again…

Posted by Paula Alsher on Thu, Nov 12, 2015 @ 01:00 PM

One of the reasons why organizations are struggling to get their change agendas accomplished is that there is, well, just way too much re-structuring! Every time a new leader comes on board, it seems that the first required action is to re-structure—again. We have clients who literally have had 5 new bosses in the last 6 months. This means new expectations, new ways of operating, new priorities. It’s one of the reasons why so many people find their heads spinning! Re-StructureAre there times when re-structuring makes sense? Absolutely.

Will all the ills of the organization be solved just by re-structuring? Absolutely not!

There is no perfect structure, and way too many organizations (in the words of IMA President, Don Harrison), continue to “make structural responses to non-structural issues.” {Tweet This} Rather than get to the substantive causes for major organizational weaknesses, the leaders look to re-structuring. It’s tempting, of course, to do this as it makes everyone feel like something important is changing.

The fact is, the underlying systemic issues will not go away, just because new faces are in new boxes on an org chart. What’s more, when there is already way too much going on, re-structuring diffuses available resources, adds more confusion, and is just another change to be implemented… often poorly! Re-structuring slows the organization down, and way too often gets in the way of other important strategic implementation activities.

Nothing happens until the re-structure is done!


Do’s and Don’ts for Re-Structuring… If You Must

Do identify systemic weaknesses in the organization and determine if re-structuring is really the solution to the problem you are trying to fix. IMA’s Implementation History Assessment Tool is a simple, straight-forward way to assess these systemic weaknesses.

Don’t under-estimate the time and costs required to re-structure.

Do recognize that the way that you re-structure teaches the organization lessons that will impact the trust and credibility of leadership.

Do be prepared for resistance, both to the content of the re-structuring and the process that is used! In fact, you will likely get more resistance to the process than to the content.

Don’t assume that higher-level leaders will support the re-structuring in their words and actions. They may be the most resistant of all!

Do focus on truly “implementing” the re-structure, not just “installing” people in new positions. “Implementation” will require that:

  • Roles and responsibilities are re-defined, along with individual and organizational performance measures
  • New job descriptions are drafted
  • Gap analysis is conducted to identify skill gaps
  • Training and performance coaching are provided to close gaps
  • Motivational issues are identified and addressed

Re-structuring needs to be implemented well, or the organization will pay both short and long-term costs. Be realistic about what problems you will really be able to solve before you re-structure… again.

Watch our overview on the AIM Change Management Methodology

Topics: Leadership