How to Better Communicate Org Structure Changes

How to Better Communicate Org Structure Changes
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The Top Reasons to Make Org Structure Changes
When business circumstances change, roles and responsibilities often need to shift accordingly and you will need to communicate org structure changes.

The most common examples from our change management simulation include changes in competition, strategy, culture, leadership, team members, decision-making, and performance.  Unfortunately, leaders report that up to 80% of org structure changes fail to produce the desired benefits.

And much of that failure to restructure teams and companies can be attributed to poor change communication practices.

The Perils of How You Communicate Org Structure Changes
When employees hear rumors that you are planning an org restructure, they tell us that they immediately worry that their jobs, their status, and their identity are in jeopardy. The bad news is that, sometimes, they are right. The good news is that, done right, org structure changes should help strengthen the people AND the business.

So, what can you do to alleviate employee concerns, gain their buy-in for org structure changes, and continue necessary day-to-day performance?

It’s All About Active Involvement and Communication
Change management consulting experts all know what can go wrong. If you adopt a “wait and see” approach to announcing org changes, you are likely to create rumors that sabotage the change effort. During change, the silence never gets filled in with positive information.  A lack of active involvement and unclear communication almost always results in increased suspicion and fear of massive job losses.

On the other hand, an overly enthusiastic CEO who touts the advantages of the changes early on is apt to seem uncaring and unprepared. Why?  Because it is hard for employee to get excited about a future that they may no longer be part of, and it is unsettling for leaders to “not have all the answers.”

To conduct a successful reorg, you need to actively involve as many people as possible who will be most affected by the change in the process and ensure that communications are frequent, transparent, two-way, and understanding of the employees’ point of view.

How to Better Communicate Org Structure Changes
Based upon data from when we assess organizational cultures, here are four field-tested tips:

  1. Communicate Change as Frequently and Transparently as Possible
    To effectively communicate any kind of organizational change, the messages need to be frequent and transparent. If you share what you know now and what you expect will happen and when, you minimize the organizational change rumors and the anxiety that change can cause.

    Keep reinforcing the message so that it has a chance to be fully absorbed.
  2. Include an Employee-Centric Perspective in Every Change Communication
    It is tempting to talk about a reorg. in broad terms as to how it will positively affect the organization’s future success. But you need to craft all change communications from your employees’ perspective.  While they want the company to be successful, employees are more interested in how the initiative will affect them personally.

    Employees will have questions about why this is happening, when it will happen, what options they have, what it means to their job and their team, and what they will need to do differently?

    Keep close to your employees and make yourself available to answer questions and address issues as they arise and as appropriate.  The more you allow people to design the new structures and ways of working to achieve your goals, the more strategic buy-in and commitment you will garner.
  3. Keep Change Communications Simple and Focused
    Focus on the overall goal from the organizational, team, and individual perspectives. Are you hoping to improve efficiency, cut costs, adapt to new technology, reposition the business, drive growth, expand into new markets, or deal with a major acquisition?

    Be clear about what the reorg. is intended to accomplish and reiterate the message so employees and managers from the frontline to the C-Suite understand its purpose and how success will be measured.
  4. Actively Involve Those Affected by Change and Solicit their Feedback
    As early as possible, put processes and systems in place to tune into employee reactions. Capture feedback through surveys, team meetings, and one-on-one sessions. Many organizations ask for employee feedback before they finalize the steps to restructure their teams

    The more you can involve employees, the more support you earn.

The Bottom Line
Organizational restructuring is fraught with consequences that threaten the health of your culture and business. Are you doing all you can to communicate organizational changes in the “right” way?

To learn more essentials for leading change, download the 5 Research-Backed Perspectives of Change that Must Be Addressed During a Reorg

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