18 Nov, 2010
Bev James on Rebuilding a Team after Restructuring
There is no easy way to avoid people being disrupted in the wake of a period of restructuring. Losing staff or changing people’s roles and responsibilities is difficult for everyone. You need clear processes to follow that are designed to treat everyone with respect. The slippery slope to low staff morale is a fast one in comparison to the time it takes to build a team back up again. It’s worth planning ahead to safeguard the well-being and feelings of the team as much as possible. This goes beyond the process and procedures that you should have in place. A restructure without practical re-motivation is unlikely to work. It is not enough to expect people to be happy they still have a job. The ‘survivors club’ can be left feeling insecure.
Here are some steps to help you manage the process:
Keep the rumour wagon under control
Better still, don’t let the rumours start – keep your team well informed so they can let down their hyper-alert mode gently.
Meet the team on a one to one basis and share the plans for the future
As the business owner, YOU lead the team. People are very different and meeting the team on a 1:1 basis will encourage people to talk to you and share their concerns. They will feel more listened to as a result.
Admit the mistakes or explain the circumstances that led to the restructure
Be open about what went wrong previously and explain how things will be done differently in the future in a straightforward fashion: ‘This is what happened’; ‘this is why it happened, and ‘what led to it happening’; ‘this is the way forward’; and importantly: ‘this is the vital part that you play in our future programme of change and improvement’. Ask them: ‘If you were able to make one change, what would it be?‘
You can’t hit a goal that you can’t see – share sales targets and figures.
The reality is that sales teams need to know whether they have hit their monthly targets; they need to be free to discuss what has sold, what hasn’t, and why. If you want to keep everyone on board there needs to be transparency. Tell people: ‘This is where we’re going; this is what we’re aiming for,’ so that everyone feels as if they are in it together.
Hold a team meeting and reinvigorate the company vision, values and goals
A team meeting is an ideal way to ensure that everyone receives the same message; that the big picture is in everyone’s minds, and can be a great way to refocus on the company’s vision, values and goals. I have found that the big meeting works best if it takes place after the series of 1:1′s with individual members so that everyone has had a chance to speak up and be listened to.
Don’t ‘dump delegate’ and make sure the team can cope with any additional tasks they’ve had to take on
It is not effective simply to dissect a job and divide the responsibilities up amongst the team. That is ‘dump delegating’. You will need to consider who has the spare capacity to take on the extra workload and who has the right skill set.
Consider outsourcing duties to help with workloads if they become excessive
Benefits of outsourcing: a new team member can lift morale and bring new energy to the workplace; it is a way of testing someone out before you take them on board; it is an effective use of resources as an outsourced worker will not cost you the same in terms of overheads; it is easy to cancel the arrangement if their approach to the job is not a good ‘fit’ and it can help others adjust.
Add a social element to bond the team and lighten the mood
Few people work solely for money. Setting up the occasional social occasion will help your team to feel appreciated. Be sensitive to the age range of your team and cultural and social differences. Ask people for suggestions: but your choices need to match the character of your staff and also meet the needs of your budget.
Encourage people to take responsibility and support them if they make a mistake
If something goes wrong it is important to first ask ‘Why?’ Could procedures be improved? Is someone overloaded? Why did the mistake happen? What mechanisms and safeguards need to be put into place to prevent it happening again? If you ask the person who made the mistake for a solution, they will probably know exactly what is needed, and take greater ownership of the task in future.
Building corporate culture
During or following a restructure you will want to create a culture of trust. Brief people well, give them the tools to succeed – and let them to get on with it. Corporate culture begins at the top – and your team will learn from your example, and the examples of those around them.
By Bev James