Restructuring your Area of Responsibility by Paul F. Taccini

Often in business, a manager finds himself making do with an organizational structure that isn’t efficient or effective just because it is ‘in place’ and it will be hard work to change it.  There are a number of reasons why we maintain the status quo.  At very least, re-organizing changes some reporting relationships which will in all probability, ruffle feathers.  Some staff may feel underutilized or underappreciated.  There is always the possibility of triggering an exodus of a key individual.  Additionally, it takes significant management time to properly analyze each staff member and it requires effort to make it work smoothly.  On top of that, it’s not the only thing we have to do..

Departmental or company reorganization is a process with a number of defined steps.  Reorganizing must involve the Human Resources group.  They will be a devil’s advocate during the planning and a partner in the restructuring, mitigating negative fallout.    The first step requires that you have a picture of the final result you want and a rational as to why it should be this way.  Next, a careful analysis of each staff member’s capabilities and interests must be conducted.  Much of this information resides in human resource files and employee performance reviews.  Additional information can be obtained during day to day interactions with other staff members and the individuals themselves.   Each staff member must be fitted into the new structure.  Unfortunately, there is a chance some individuals will be identified as underqualified for the new setup or extraneous to the current departmental needs.  For these employees, a reassignment or exit plan must be developed.  With luck, there will only be a few individuals in this category.

After you have established the structure and responsibility of each position, you must next assign remaining staff to their new or revised position.  Now you develop the implementation plan.  If it hasn’t been done previously, this is also the time to bring the company’s remaining senior staff into the picture.  Carefully consider any comments or recommendations that the senior team might offer.  Either immediately before or directly after the formal announcement, there will be a need for someone to speak to each employee in the affected group.  Depending on the situation, Human Resources should be a participant in these conversations to offer guidance and to document the conversation, especially if there is any negative aspect to the change.

I am acquainted with a family owned company in the mid-West which was recently acquired by an equity capital group.  With an open position on the senior staff, the equity group recruited a Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Sales.  During the interview process, this candidate met with a number of key individuals and direct reports.  However, when the new VP arrived, he was shocked learn that there were 15 direct reports, including a personal secretary and a sales manager in a remote location.  Needless to say, managing this group without a reorganization would be like trying to herd ducks.  It took about 6 months for the new VP to develop a sense for the individuals in his department.  Then, along with the head of Human Resources, they revised the department, positioned the staff in their new rolls, announced it formally to the company and solved any lingering issues.

Reorganization is not something to take lightly. It requires a clear vision, forethought, careful planning, a level of sensitivity and teamwork for success.  It is worth the effort.

Senior Business Consultants, LLC