The Power of “Re:” Lessons in Strategic Leadership

464972285Leaders should always be evaluating the way things are done and looking for ways to do them better. When we were kids, we called it a “do over”; as serious adults, we need more syllables. Whether you call it reorganization, restructuring or realignment, changing the way you allocate resources and responsibilities is a necessary and valuable strategic tool leaders should use to move a business forward. In the staffing industry, restructuring is often done in a reactive way, not as a deliberate strategy. I am happy to share a few lessons learned from the experiences I’ve had taking a proactive approach to what is essentially an opportunity to reenergize an organization.

My biggest tip: Restructuring isn’t something a leader does in isolation. Execution and support from your entire team is essential, and that requires the right people on the team, a foundation of trust and strong linkage between vision and results, with effective communication and change management plans in place to ensure success.

Connecting the Dots from Restructuring Goals to Restructuring Results
Restructuring demonstrates a focus on strategic direction and growth. Rather than ceaselessly repeating “let’s do better,” it shows you are taking tangible steps to do things differently. It’s an investment in the company and its employees, and it creates opportunities for people to explore their potential and stretch their capabilities, so it can be a great vehicle for training and mentoring. Understand that restructuring is more than a strategic exercise; it’s a sales challenge. You must sell your vision and clearly explain how the restructuring supports it. Share the goals and how you plan to measure success. Then follow through by checking progress and reporting on interim results.

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Never Underestimate the Importance of Communication and Change Management
Change re-energizes people. It shakes things up and redefines comfort zones. It makes everyone take a step back and approach the organization and their jobs from a different perspective. That’s a good thing, but it can be the biggest hurdle to overcome in both executing the changes you’ve outlined, and more importantly, achieving the results you envision. People are often resistant to change… not necessarily because they don’t like change, but more likely because they don’t understand the reason for the change and how it will impact them personally. This is why it’s so important to over-communicate and manage expectations. Here are a few hard lessons I’ve learned in executing a restructuring:

  1. First and foremost, never assume people get it. While you may have been contemplating your plan for months and spent countless hours thinking about it, discussing it with advisors, sharing the possibilities with your executive team, running it by your board and meticulously blocking it out, the bulk of your organization is largely in the dark until you announce your intent. Understand that it will take lots of time and explanation to move them to the starting line with you.
  2. Communicate on multiple levels. It is not enough to say something once on a company-wide call or via an email. You need to reiterate the message repeatedly in different venues and with different influencers sharing the message.
  3. Create champions of change. Your middle managers do the heavy lifting here, so be sure they understand what is happening, why it is happening and how it impacts them, everyone on their team and everyone they touch, including clients, suppliers, candidates and consultants. Influencers in your organization can also serve as the vanguard for change.
  4. Focus on staying focused. Be crystal clear when you communicate. The more you leave open to interpretation, the less focus will be applied to actual execution and “business as usual.” A lack of focus can derail any plans you have to grow.
  5. Tailor your message. Reorganization affects all areas of a business. Think through each segment internally and how to communicate effectively with them.

The Journey to Status Quo
Restructuring may appear to be a really big deal (and it certainly can be), but in reality, every commercial enterprise is a living organism that must continually shift and flex its boundaries and its capabilities in order to grow. Leaders should never be afraid to use restructuring as a strategic tool to enhance performance and competitive advantage. Eventually, a restructuring may transform itself into status quo, but that does not happen without careful nurturing along the way, the right people executing the change and a strong foundation of trust.

MORE: The most important question for leaders

What’s been your experience?

Ella Koscik

Ella Koscik
Ella Koscik is owner and chairperson MDI Group, an IT staffing and recruiting services provider. She can be reached at ella (at) mdigroup (dot) com.

Ella Koscik

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