Thu, Jan

All change?

Phil Thompson, head of BPIF Business, walks you through the basics of a restructuring plan.

Much has been written and spoken about with regards to the industry and how it has changed. The need for change in a business is often a result of the many different pressures facing it in a more globalised and competitive market, but what should be considered and what is available to companies to support transition?

To be sustainable any business requires a clear strategic plan, yet this is only the start. Visualising where you see your business is an important step, but getting it there can require restructuring. So, where to start…

What are you trying to achieve?

Don’t just look at you own business, but at any major breakthroughs within the industry - look at new concepts, think about major challenges within the market and ask yourself a few pertinent questions before you embark upon any restructure. For instance, “what is the future likely to look like and what are my company’s different options within it?” Put the business in a wider context.

This strategy challenges you to visualise how the business should look down the line - then look backwards on what the business will need to do to meet that model; hence the term ‘Backwards Forward Thinking Strategy’.

Often this uses the Ishikawa model, more commonly known as the ‘Fish Bone’. It looks at the areas that are going to affect the business and highlights where investment needs to be made – including personnel.

Taking the lead

Effective leaders are good at organising, motivating and inspiring people and a good ongoing communication strategy is key to establishing clarity and organising resources to achieve the company vision. Employees should be kept well informed on how the business is doing against the vision and plan. This does not need to be complex. Understanding where the business needs to improve, grow, become leaner and how staff can contribute will encourage not only a sense of purpose but also trust in senior management. It is not about how much information is given exactly; it’s more about the timing, regularity, clarity, content and context of the communication. If employees are kept informed they are more likely to support a restructuring programme because they will better understand the need for change.

Taking care of the legals

Managers involved in a restructure will have to be fully aware of the legal ramifications of any redundancy measures and/or proposals regarding terms and conditions. Meaningful consultation is fundamental. Never try to rush the process – imagine yourself in this situation, how would you expect to be treated?

Managers also need to consider the staff that are not directly affected by proposals or the subsequent risk of redundancy. All staff should be fully informed. Thinking through potential concerns and drafting a Q&A sheet can really help manage emotions. And understanding the process of transition will help managers support all team members. Adopting structured feedback mechanisms will ensure all employees have a voice. Failing to consider those unaffected by the restructure may result in reduced motivation and subsequent dips in productivity.

Creating a positive approach to change

Whatever size the business, creating a positive approach to change is key to the success of any restructuring move. This can be achieved by instilling a desire across your team to improve and adapt knowledge and skills through continuous learning. Champions or ‘change agents’ within your business can help this process.

Use feedback mechanisms to review how you have managed change in the past, how the change was received, to understand what main levers need to be pulled to make change happen in your business, recognise the role models for change.

Bear I mind that given your position in the company you will automatically be looked upon as the role model for championing change. Your approach to change will be scrutinised by those within your business - and outside – so doing your homework and being positive about how and why you are restructuring will be worth the research and effort.

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