A successful restructure should drive your business forward. But if you don’t get it right, you could end up in a boom and bust cycle where you will experience the pain of disruptive change without the expected business benefits to show for it.
Restructuring – no matter how big or small – is always tough. It takes time, money, and effort from you and your staff.
Improving service delivery, reducing costs, responding to a change in the business environment – whatever the reason, there’s no way to make restructuring completely stress-free, but there are ways to improve your chances of reaping the expected business benefits.
Making essential knowledge accessible
When you restructure, every part of your business is examined. Who does what, who talks to who, how everything fits together. In other words, the spotlight is on processes.
Restructuring tends to shift processes around, from department to department or person to person. A successful restructure will depend on staff in new roles having access to all the information and know-how they need.
And if your restructure results in staff leaving, you’d better make sure that knowledge doesn’t walk out the door with them.
Capturing process knowledge where it counts
How does your business capture and manage critical process know-how? If you answer yes to one or more of the following questions, your business could be in an unproductive cycle:
- Each project team usually writes up current processes because they didn’t already exist.
- There is no standard format for process knowledge - it’s up to individual project teams.
- Language and styles used in processes are dictated by external ‘experts’ – not by the people who use the processes everyday
- Process knowledge is recorded in inaccessible, static documents rather than a central knowledge base
If you are in an unproductive cycle, it can be difficult to break. A restructuring can give you the chance to have a real look at how you manage processes and retain knowledge across the business.
Making people part of the process
No matter how well prepared you are, restructuring is disruptive. Changing roles, changing departments, new and improved ways of working – it’s all positive for the business but it can be scary for your people.
While it’s important to capture and retain process know-how, it needs to be done thoughtfully.
For example, bringing in experts to impose new ways of working can make it harder for staff to accept change. There can even be defensiveness – nobody likes to be told that they’re doing it wrong, particularly by an outsider.
Those reactions aren’t just bad for staff morale, they can work against change. People are less likely to feel engaged with new processes if they feel outsiders have imposed them, and they’re more likely to just slip back into old ways of working.
Successful change management depends on involving affected teams every step of the way. Process knowledge sits with experienced staff – they should be empowered with process ownership – including the responsibility for maintaining an up-to-date understanding of how these processes work. This gives them ownership of their job functions, and gives the wider team somewhere to turn when they need help.
Take a chance and make positive change
We often hear our prospective clients say ‘We don’t have time to look at processes now - we’ll revisit them once we get through this restructure’. This approach can be highly risky, and squanders the opportunity to leverage process lessons from the restructure.
If you capture corporate know-how and make it accessible to teams, you will have a strong foundation to work from when you restructure. If key information isn’t captured in a format that teams find easy to understand and access, it limits the opportunities for ongoing improvement beyond the restructure.
The disruption caused by a restructure represents an opportunity to build a platform for improved process management by recording new processes and capturing existing ones. This will make transitions easier for staff, help get them engaged with the change, and ultimately, increase the likelihood of a successful transition – one that delivers the intended value to the business.