Organisational restructures are a common occurrence in many businesses. But as a leader, how can you ensure your new team hits the ground running? These five simple steps will get you underway.
When McKinsey interviewed leaders in over 1300 companies, they found that sixty percent of senior executives had experienced a corporate redesign within the last two years. They also found that despite the significant emotional and economic investment involved in organisational restructures, less than twenty-five percent achieved the desired outcome. Further, forty-four percent “run out of steam” before their objectives have been met.
After an organisational restructure, particularly a large one, your team is likely to be in a state of disruption. As the leader, what you do next will determine whether the coming months and years are draining or energising, and whether you and your team follow the right path. Importantly, your actions during this critical period will determine whether you and your team deliver the best result.
Beware the need for speed
While the restructure was underway, the chances are that wait-and-see mode will have descended on the organisation. Decisions may have been put off and people may have shown a reluctance to act until things became more certain. Meanwhile, life in the rest of the world will have continued, oblivious to the turmoil occurring within your organisation. Competitors and customers will have been carrying on as usual and the many day-to-day challenges of keeping a business running may well have been building up. So, now with you team finally on board, you need a team that is high-performing, but what you have, is one that is forming.
So how can you accelerate team performance and build momentum after the restructure has finished? Ironically, much of your success will depend on your ability to ignore what your gut is telling you. After so much time in wait-and-see mode, your instinctive response could be to put your foot on the accelerator and make up for lost ground. However, momentum doesn't start with going fast, it starts with going forward.
Following these five simple steps will enable you to accelerate without leaving any of your team behind.
1. Recognise & respect the different mindsets within your team
Restructures affect people differently, depending on individual experiences, circumstances and the way in which decisions have been made and communicated. The people in your team will have different mindsets and this will impact their willingness to let go of the past and move forward. They may be excited, confused, frustrated or angry and this will lead to various responses, ranging from ‘talk to the hand’ to ‘Awesome. Let’s go for it’. The first step therefore, is to understand the mindsets that are operating in your team. This means asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of listening. Then, start your conversation from where people are today, not where you want them to be.
2. Create alignment before you create your strategy
Momentum within a team starts with everyone standing on the same starting line. While the strategy is important, without building alignment across the team first, everyone will be running their own race, not the same race. Building alignment first also ensures everyone knows why the strategy itself is needed.
3. Consciously respect, then draw a line under, the past
There will be lessons from the past that can increase the chances of future success. However, some ways of thinking that used to work will no longer be helpful. Tempting as it may be to encourage people to build a bridge and get over it, that is rarely well received. Your team members need to decide which elements of the past are useful and make the choice, which ones to let go. As the leader, your job is to give them the tools, provide a safe environment and facilitate a process that moves thinking forward.
4. Facilitate human connections
The chances are that many members of your team will still be trying to grapple with questions like: What’s my role? What am I responsible for? How does my role differ from that person’s? Clear roles and responsibilities are important. However, what’s even more important is that people in your team know each other and develop a level of trust. When relationship building is consciously facilitated and valued, it helps to smooth the bumps of ambiguity in the road, reducing its potentially negative impact.
5. Create a Momentum Map
Momentum doesn’t create itself, leaders do. So, if you want a group of people with different backgrounds and experiences to come together, combine their energies and deliver results in a collaborative way, you’ll need to make it happen. A Momentum Map defines where the team is now, where they need to be and the steps that will bridge the gap.
Organisational restructures can be challenging. However, once they are over, they represent an opportunity for you and your team to start a new chapter. What happens next, is up to you.
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