Chapter 10: Reorganizations
When changes occur in your department’s programs, staffing patterns, or resources, you may want to take a close look at possible reorganization. Since reorganizations can raise some of the same issues as layoffs (or may result in layoffs), please refer to Chapter 23, Separations, Layoff, when you are planning a reorganization.
Goals for Communicating About Change
To Get Information Out
- To clarify the reasons for change
- To describe the benefits of the change
- To offer a detailed picture of the new organization
- To describe how the change will take place
- To provide information on support/resources
To Gather Information
- To get input from the people affected
- To get feedback on how the change is proceeding
To Affect Attitudes and Behavior
- To show that change is a beginning, not an end
- To create an atmosphere that supports the new identity/culture
- To encourage risk-taking and openness to change
- To move toward a collaborative team approach
To Offer Support During the Change
- To acknowledge loss/fear/resistance
- To show how loss will be counteracted by the advantages of the new organization
- To provide tools (training/information/praise)
- To reduce isolation and foster teamwork
Resistance to Change
- The purpose of the change is not clear. When employees don’t understand why changes are implemented, anxiety and suspicion often fill the information vacuum.
- Employees may perceive the change as having a discriminatory motive or impact.
- The employees do not see a need for the change. Even if employees understand the reasons for change they may disagree with management’s perspective and not agree that is needed.
- The employees are not involved in the planning. People support what they helped create. If employees do not believe they have enough input in planning change, resistance may increase.
- Communication regarding the change is poor. Even if the change affects only one other person, communication can be easily distorted. Be sure to develop a clear communication plan using a variety of resources. Remember - you can never communicate too much about any change, and you will probably feel like you are.
- Key people in the organization are not seen as really advocating the change. If employees believe their boss or other important individuals/groups don’t support the change, acceptance is difficult to secure.
- The employees perceive a negative impact on their social relations. If employees view the change as adversely affecting the way they relate to people significant to them, acceptance is reduced.
- Key job characteristics are changed. Employees will be more resistant to the change if they believe it will decrease their autonomy, the level of challenge the job offers, the type of feedback they receive, or the degree of importance the organization places on their jobs.
- The employees have been exposed to a long history of poorly-executed changes. If the employees believe that the organization is involved in another ill-planned change, their enthusiasm will be greatly diminished.
- The employees fear failure. Change involves learning and learning usually involves mistakes; when people are not given the freedom to make mistakes while learning, they may be afraid and easily discouraged.
- The employees lack confidence in their capacity to implement the change, or in management’s commitment to the training they need.
- Excessive pressure is involved. When employees are already feeling overworked, the additional pressure brought on by the change may create resistance.
- Employees perceive that organizational objectives of the change and their own personal goals are incompatible. Resistance is increased if employees believe the change will block or significantly restrict the achievement of their own personal ambitions.
Steps in Managing a Reorganization
- Define the problem.
- Determine whether existing jobs and structures are meeting department goals.
- Consider what factors contribute to effectiveness of jobs and structure.
- Identify methods for collecting input from staff.
- Verbal, written, and computer surveys
- Problem-solving teams
- Review committees
Identify a new structure or model that will support your goals, including:
- Distribution of functions throughout the organization (definition of functions to be performed, groupings of functions, and the relationships among functions)
- Vertical and horizontal authority relationships
- Communication/decision-making process (how formal decisions are made and by whom, and the information system established for decision-making)
- Internal departmental policies (the decisions, rules, or guidelines established in production, personnel, purchasing, research and development, and other areas)
- The attributes of department employees (includes abilities, skills, experience, and other behavioral issues)
Develop a reorganization proposal, including:
- Reasons for reorganization
- Before and after organization charts
- Job descriptions for new, changed positions
- Names, titles of employees to be affected by changed or eliminated jobs, new reporting lines, physical relocation, or reduction in time
- Review of Affirmative Action impact
- Order of potential layoffs for career positions based on seniority points
- Notices to go to unions
- A communication plan
- Identify the different groups who will need communication and the different messages/information they will need
- Determine series of review and update meetings with management
- Determine schedule of informational meetings with staff
- Plan communications outside department to announce reorganization
- Set up individual meetings with employees projected for layoff and for those employees whose jobs will change significantly
Assess skills and training needs.
Determine skills needed for each position.
Compare current skills with what is needed.
Determine training needs and resources.
Design and implement training.
Review, reassess, and gather input during implementation.
Determine methods to get feedback during implementation.
Include systems that will provide regular feedback from management, staff, and client groups.
Build an effective team (also see Chapter 14, Team Building).
Clarify mission, goals, and standards for success.
Schedule regular staff meetings.
Facilitate communication by remaining open to suggestions and concerns.
Act as harmonizing influence by looking for opportunities to mediate and resolve minor disputes.
Encourage all team members to share information.
Support brainstorming and consensus decision-making where appropriate.