In past blogs, I have explored the importance of being both flexible and forward-thinking as a leader. Sometimes, this heightened sense of adaptability must be applied to full shifts in organizational structure, which, broadly speaking, could occur due to rapid industry changes or unique internal needs.
Change can be difficult in a corporate setting, and to set your workplace up for success, there are several key focal points you should consider to hit the ground running.
Keep the big picture in mind, but not too much
Unsurprisingly, a tenet of proper organizational restructuring is to never lose sight of your end goal. This process is one half of a crucial balancing act that must take place in your restructure’s foundational stages: keep the big picture at the forefront of your plans, but do not develop a “finish line first” mentality. Be sure to avoid getting too caught up in your organization’s current deficiencies — as this can create a perpetual cycle of only addressing the foreground, appeasing what and who is immediately out of sorts, and stunting any chances at a progressive step forward — but also remember that these matters cannot go fully on the back burner.
It can take time to establish harmony between the future and the present, and to ensure one does not derail the other, you must be clear about all long term aspirations from step one; that way, you can use it as a basis for establishing equilibrium in the present, tailoring such changes in a manner that will hopefully appease your ultimate goal.
Focus on a role-first format
A common misconception in the restructuring process is that you should emphasize present talent prior to creating new roles, “selecting the seemingly obvious candidates for key positions before those positions are fully defined.” While it is easy to understand the intended logic behind this approach, in reality, it is generally better to focus on the inverse: create necessary roles first and then shift your attention to role-specific talent that will best serve them. By putting talent before a role, you run the risk of creating a “competition for talent” culture in your workplace, which in turn can lead to spikes in anxiety and risk, and this can lead to an adverse snowball effect in which different groups “poach from one another to fill newly created gaps.”
To avoid such disruption, McKinsey Quarterly suggests focusing on a talent draft that will give “all units access to the same people enables companies to fill each level of the new organizational structure in an orderly and transparent way.” This way, role-appropriate talent will be guided to where it needs to be, aiding both the workers filling the roles and, subsequently, the workplace at large.
Look inward and shift perspective
The aforementioned steps cannot be taken — at least effectively — until you, the leader of the restructure — have self-evaluated in a similar manner. Much of the restructure will hinge on crucial mindset shifts, and it is best to solidify your own mental adaptation and lead by example. For example, do not succumb to the tendency of viewing your workers like “cogs in an organizational machine,” with you as an omnipresent engineer pulling the strings. Instead, remember that the restructure is, in essence, an equalizing force that all employees are experiencing together.
That said, as comradery can sometimes go hand-in-hand with commiseration, it can be easy for workers to fall into a negative groupthink mentality if sensitive or misguided feelings are left unchecked. Therefore, once you have reset your own perspective as a leader, it is imperative that you take mental inventory of your entire team, assessing all immediate pain points and redirecting negativity and apprehension into motivation and enthusiasm. Otherwise, you may run the risk of igniting habitual emotions that will be hard to undo later.