Organization restructuring is more than zero-sum game!

 In Miscellaneous

Organization restructuring. Have two words ever sent more shockwaves through a company than those? When people hear “organization restructuring” you can almost always count on two unwelcome guests… fear and uncertainty.

That’s because many – dare I say most – people tend to believe that organization restructuring is a ‘zero-sum’ game. One may think organization restructure means realignment of existing set of portfolios based on newly formed strategy. In the process some portfolios become larger, some shrink, some get added as base ‘0’ and some may even get eliminated.

Over the last 15 years, I would say I have witnessed 7-8 restructuring across 3 organizations. Most of the time the restructuring was done in the interest of the larger organization.  A majority of the time what people talk about is political – we’re human after all – who is getting ‘stars on shoulder’ (additional responsibilities) and who is losing their shirt (unpredicted period of reduced responsibilities)? My submission is people should view these changes impassively and not as success / failure of impacted members, because impacted members had, individually, very little influence on what happened.

As I see it, while restructuring provides the clarity about the to-be state, the transition from as-is to to-be state has many possible paths. Hence, many times restructuring brings ambiguity and uncertainty. Ambiguity creates speculations, which – as I bet you have all seen – results into gossip mongering. In such testing times, leaders need to rise beyond personal gains and focus on organization success.

Leaders must employ empathy when planning and discussing structural changes. They need to view responsibilities and portfolio allocation much more than placing names in the boxes of organization chart. Camaraderie, openness to ideas, listening and treating fellow colleagues with respect go a long way to build a winning team. Of course, it helps – and is a good reason – to imbue camaraderie, an openness to ideas and a culture of listening and treating fellow colleagues with respect as part of the culture of your organization.

Leaders really must engage in two-way candid dialogue about the organization restructuring to make the transition successful. One need to pay attention to following aspects:

  • Keeping the energy high, consciously. ‘Losing the shirt’ moments may drain significant mental energy. It is natural to feel worried during period of ambiguity. This is absolutely human nature.  Leaders must ensure that their body language doesn’t demoralize team-mates and family members. One needs to keep faith in his / her capabilities. Organizations become successful only when all teams deliver to its potential.
  • Leaders need to take the stress of change willingly. Be open and honest. This is what people expect and what they need. Leaders must share fears of uncertainty and clarify doubts about changes to gain more clarity. Discussion with CXOs is helpful to remain focused on larger organization objectives.
  • Keep reminding colleagues about the immense potential. In the given environment and limited resources, only a few may get the chance to deliver on the opportunities. However, as we all know, situations won’t remain same forever. If the organization has well-thought strategies and plans for executing them, then at some point all the business entities start growing.
  • Instead of looking at the hundred reasons to quit look at the thousands reason not to give up.
  • Follow the unsaid rule of marathon – Even if you are tired & feel like quitting, keep running. Scenery changes are witnessed by only those who continue to run and eventually one gets into the surrounding where environment enables success.

Self-belief, being relevant and staying focused are keys to cross any period of uncertainty. Leaders should make all effort to influence and steer the organization to new strategy and structure in a steady manner.

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