HR – Restructuring Your Team

The phrase “life happens” applies as much to businesses as to other parts of life.  A business may start out as one person’s idea, grow into a small team and then expand via direct employees, the use of freelancers or a combination of both.  These days even small companies may find themselves working internationally, for example by using remote freelancers or service providers and these people will need to be incorporated into the company structure in some way.  Here are some top tips for restructuring your company successfully.

  1. Strategy comes before structure

You need to know where you’re going before you can plan out a route to get there.  You also need to know what factors could affect your journey (and at least roughly how likely they are) before you can plan the best route.  Similarly you need to know where your company is headed and the factors which will or may affect it before you can start looking at your organisational structure.  In particular, look at which aspects of your company benefit from centralisation and which from decentralisation and for which it makes little to no difference.

  1. Keep it simple

It’s important to look after staff and to accommodate personal preferences as much as reasonably possible, but the key word here is reasonable.  If you find yourself looking at organisational structure in terms of keeping people together to keep them happy or keeping them as far apart as possible then you are very likely to introduce unnecessary complexity and may even create serious problems further down the line.  As a minimum every member of your team should have a clearly-defined area of responsibility and a clearly-defined manager and each aspect of your organisational structure should reflect your strategy and goals.  If “people issues” are getting in the way of this then you need to bite the bullet and deal with them.

  1. Take stock of your current position before making any changes

You can do this as step 2 if you prefer, but the advantage of having at least a sketchy idea of your ideal strategy in place before you review your current position is that it should help to reduce the temptation to work around what you’re doing now rather than really focusing on what you need to do to move successfully into the future.  Getting a clear picture of what your team is actually doing right now is an essential part of any restructure, since it not only confirms whether or not your staff are actually doing what you think they are doing, but gives you a specific list of tasks, responsibilities and processes with which to work as part of your restructuring.

  1. Design roles around skill sets rather than people

Whether you like it or not, people move on from roles for a variety of reasons, even if it’s only temporarily (e.g. illness or parental leave).  If you design a single role, which requires a diverse skill-set (e.g. chef and welder) then you are setting yourself up for a recruitment challenge in the future.  If need be, create 2 roles and have one person fulfil both of them as distinct jobs.

  1. Be realistic about workloads

This is particularly true of roles which include management responsibilities but, in principle, applies to all positions.  If you have taken a clear snapshot of what your staff are currently doing, then you should have a clear idea of their workload and unless they are clearly under-worked, then you should be cautious about increasing it.  If the restructuring includes adopting technology to enable staff to work more efficiently, then increasing workload may be feasible, but it is strongly recommended to have a back-up plan and budget for the initial period so as to be able to deal with any teething troubles or even back out the change completely if need be.