In a highly competitive and dynamic business environment, SME companies have to be quick to adapt to change whether it's due to a merger, buy out or change in business strategy. We often get asked what the best way is to manage and approach internal change, especially as a poorly managed restructure can quickly snowball into an organisational disaster with long term negative effects for all involved.
1. You need to start with the why.
Restructure is a very broad term and it’s important to understand whether you need to do this because of business under-performance and you need to lift the performance of your business, or whether this is about a transformation for future growth potential and you need to reroute what you’re doing in order to take your business forward.
Have a clear plan at the outset to ensure that you are selecting the right roles and that there is no other alternative option, for example, scaling back roles to allow flexible or part time working.
Slowing down and creating space to think is important. It allows you to create moments where other alternatives can work - it’s not just black and white. It’s important to slow down your thinking to really understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
2. Communication and transparency is key throughout the process.
During tough times, bravery and authenticity from leaders is neccessary to share what is really going on and where the business is headed. Seek feedback on what can be done differently.
Ensure everyone is involved and included. This isn’t just a HR process, this is a business process, so all leaders need to be involved, and it’s important to not leave people behind.
People feel very engaged in both the leaders’ vision and the companies vision when they have a clear understanding of what is happening and why it is happening — it's about having a human approach.
3. Think about the people involved, not just the process.
Accommodating people’s feelings and needs has to be part of the plan. Though planning for the discussion is important, you also need to have a plan for what happens afterwards and how you support those people through it. This could be anything from enabling them to have the time to have a farewell with colleagues, through to some organisations offering people access to a recruitment specialist or career advisor. It is also often the small things that can turn people's experience from a negative one to a postive outcome.
Ensure that you are considerate and sensitive to how different people will react. Listening with empathy and respect is needed and you need to flex your language and style depending on who you’re speaking with.
In a day and age where social media plays a large role in our lives, you can’t afford to leave people battered and bruised. So it’s important to take the time to say ‘what do you need’, acknowledge their feelings and accommodate as best as you can.
Katriina Tahka is co-CEO of A Human Agency. Kat spends her time helping organisations and people think differently about HR. As a principal at A-HA with over 17 years experience, Simone Gigg specialises in strategic HR and restructuring.
If you’d like to know more, talk to us, A Human Agency is here to help.