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7 Steps to Planning a Successful Restructure [Updated 2019]

By / August 22, 2016 / , / 5 Comments

Being tasked to plan a workforce restructure is an intimidating task. If the past has taught us anything, to remain competitive – organisations must be prepared to change and adapt. Over time, traditional structures can become counter-productive to business goals. This tends to be the major driver leading to workforce restructures.
The restructure process doesn’t always have to be performed purely as a reaction. A dynamic, industry-leading workforce can be a strong source of competitive advantage.
An agile approach can allow an organisation to quickly capitalise on opportunities that arise in industry. Restructures can therefore become a regular process, a way of continuously improving the way the organisation operates and maximising business success.
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But, before you get started…
In order to keep your restructure on track for the entire process, clear goals must be set. To create your targets, you must answer one question: What is the real purpose of the restructure?
Goals can be established around workforce expenditure, performance or a target headcount. When setting the objectives to guide your restructure, make sure your goals are specific and measurable.

Step 1. Set your transition management team

Dedicate personnel to take responsibility of different roles throughout the restructure, owning and executing the entire process. Thoughtfully identify the best candidates with the appropriate skill set to get the job done. Be sure to be realistic when allocating resources to meet the timelines required. Typical restructure roles include:

  • A Decision Maker, who knows the business requirements and can make clear decisions without being held up by too much red tape.
  • A Data Analyst, who can manipulate, validate and import the data using your restructure tools (Excel, org.manager, etc)
  • An Org Design Expert, who can model the restructure along with all of the reports, communications and action plans required to implement the restructure.

2. Effectively communicate your plan

When dealing with organisational change, it’s much better to be open and honest about the intent and process. Your restructure will maintain a smoother course if clear expectations are set and your top talent feels secure.
The easiest way to do this is to share the future state of your organisation using a role based org chart (not specifying the employee). Visualising the new structure and the motivations behind it can help employees to digest and adapt to the impending change. Be sure not to provide too much detail, restrict sensitive information like salary, contact details and home address.

3. Perform a skills assessment

It’s difficult to understand where your workforce strengths and weaknesses lie without a process for assessing employees’ skills. Your best approach is to:

    1. Talk to line managers
    2. Build a list of core competencies
    3. Use this data to guide the restructure

Typically, organisations use a 9-box to track skill metrics, measuring performance and potential ratings within an org charting tool. Whilst it may be a simple measure, it’s easy data to capture and it’s also a good summary for comparing employees with similar job descriptions.

4. Prepare severance in advance

Voluntary and involuntary turnover are a part of every organisational restructure. Make sure your severance packages are suitable, compliant and fair. As much as possible, try to be open and honest about what is being offered.
Dispelling rumours and managing expectations are hard enough without the added challenge of maintaining a veil of secrecy over the organisation. It’s also a good idea to revisit and redevelop your packages toward the end of the planning process.

5. Talent development programs

When employees are moving around, you need to make sure they receive the right support and training to settle them into their new roles. Remember that these programs don’t have to start after the restructure takes place.
Best practice is to cross-skill multiple employees for a variety of roles. This is a fantastic way to keep your employees engaged and to provide more options for when the restructure rolls around. This type of talent development can help build employee loyalty and increase skill-diversity across the workforce as a whole.

6. Role suitability analysis

It’s not just skills that should determine whether or not an employee is moved to a particular role. Watch out for good or poor relationships, existing team dynamics and any personal factors that may affect their suitability for the role.
This is an incredibly difficult aspect to measure, so you’re likely going to rely on anecdotal reports and feedback from line managers for each employee. For larger organisations, it may be easier to run small group sessions with key decision makers in each area to see if they have any objections.
At the end of the day, it’s going to be your job to decide which objections are insurmountable and which are unavoidable, tailoring the restructure plan to create the best outcome possible.

7. Review and reflect

Chances are you will end up going through another restructure in the future. If you plan and monitor the process now, you’ll find it easier next time.
At Navigo, we’re big fans of documenting each and every process. Task a few members of the restructure team with writing down each step you go through, leaving you with a framework to build upon and reference next time.
If you would like to see a quick checklist guide, download the PDF version .
Ready to begin modelling your future state scenario? Our 8 Secrets To A Pain-Free Restructure Using Workforce Modelling webinar will help you to simplify your restructure design road map.
If you have any more questions relating to planning your restructure, the Navigo team would be happy to help.

about the author
Lee Kennedy

Lee, Navigo's Marketing Manager, is passionate about solving operational and strategic HR issues. She is actively exploring creative ways for organisations to visualise and free their HRIS data.