This article was updated on August 22, 2018.
Changes in reporting structure can happen for any number of reasons, such as a merger or acquisition or a new executive joins with a new charter. While the outcome can be positive for the business, company structure change can create questions and challenges for management and employees.
For HR leaders, it's important to have a plan in place to manage communication, relationship building, concerns and other issues before they arise to help ensure a smooth transition. In fact, the ability to handle change management is so key that experience with a major transformation is one of the top desired traits in an HR leader, according to The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Here are five ways HR leaders can navigate a reorganization to maximize ROI and minimize fears.
1. Take a Proactive Role
HR leaders should take a proactive role in structuring, rolling out and supporting communications. In some cases, communication will initially come from management and then be bolstered by HR. However, HR should drive a central message that explains what's behind the structure change, why change can help a business better achieve its goals and how workers will be impacted. Focus on the benefits for the organization and the worker, while being realistic about the potential adjustment period that lies ahead.
2. Inspire Hope and Confidence
One of the biggest fears employees are likely to voice during a reorganization are those around stability and security. Restructuring may mean an employee is let go, given different responsibilities or assigned to a new team. HR teams should assure individuals they're not in danger of being let go. At the same time, on a larger scale, fears can be dealt with by systematically focusing on the advantages that a reorganization will bring to the business, individual departments and even specific jobs.
3. Provide Guidelines for Connection
Connecting managers with their new employees as soon as possible after a structure change should be a major boon to the initiative's success overall. Disbanding long-established teams can be hard on people, so create guidelines that encourage managers to reach out to their new employees and be available to those employees who might be leaving their team. Recommend timelines for team meetings and other points of communication that can help establish a rapport. It's also useful to think about ways to help employees maintain relationships with previous team members.
4. Focus on Integration
Often, changes in structure point toward one goal — efficiency. Ultimately, the desire to focus resources toward shared goals is about eliminating waste and generating more results for the organization's bottom line. HR leaders can help get people excited about structure changes by highlighting the potential to have a larger impact on the business' operations and future direction.
5. Solve Challenges as They Come
Every company structure change brings challenges, whether it be interpersonal conflicts, a lack of clarity or decreased engagement. HR leaders should endeavor to create a safe place where managers and employees can feel free to share their concerns. In turn, HR leaders can use this feedback to loop in other managers and the C-suite and address issues before they turn into larger programs.
HR leaders should play an integral role in helping businesses navigate complex restructuring. From leading communication to emphasizing the power of efficiency, HR leaders can help their organizations smoothly report structure changes and capture the ROI on these complex but important strategic moves.