Adjusting to Change: Four Strategies for Successful Reorganization
By Pamela Wasley, CEO, Cerius Executives
Although we’re not out of the woods with COVID-19 yet, the end is coming. There will be an “after” state. But in the world of business, a lot has changed. To prepare for the “new reality,” many companies are already making plans to reorganize. If your company is considering reorganization—or in the midst of your work—here are four critical strategies that you’ll need to ensure successful reorganization.
Step 1: Do market research.
As a result of COVID-19, many companies will never be the same. And that business strategy you worked long and hard on last year has most likely now been replaced by a 30-, 60- or 90-day strategic plan geared to get through the near term.
“Much has shifted—customer demand, purchasing patterns, pricing strategies and the competitive landscape, to name a few,” said Kristen McAlister, President, Cerius Executives. “Before you begin planning for reorganization, you need to know what has shifted and why.”
To get a clear picture of the current landscape, you should examine:
- The market: How has it shifted? How has it impacted your customers/clients?
- Your customers: What do they need now versus what they wanted in the past? How does this impact your own pricing and/or delivery strategies?
- Your competitors: What are they doing? How have they shifted in recent months to address a new state of the market? Are some out of the picture now and their customers will be searching for a new vendor? Have new players entered the market, causing more competition?
Case in Point: How Starbucks Is Transforming Stores for the Post-COVID World
Starbucks is one example of successful (and quick) pivot in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the nationwide lockdowns, Starbucks was on a path to add more drive-through locations to its portfolio within the next three to five years. The global crisis accelerated those plans to the next 18 months. The pandemic also prompted a massive shift toward a digital customer experience based on convenience with plans to transform many traditional cafes by adding more takeout options and boosting “on-the-go” formats like more curbside pickup and delivery options.
Step 2: Conduct structural alignment to current market needs.
Only after you’ve done your market research can you reorganize your company to better align to it.
“It starts with creating a new mission or strategic plan for 2021—based on the current market, the products selling now, and what customers want,” said McAlister. “Just because you sold certain products last year doesn’t mean those are the right products for 2021 — or that you’re still selling them correctly.”
Once you create your new plan—and before you implement it—a common strategy is to “socialize” some of the broad changes you’re looking to make. Identify a core team of internal champions and start discussing the results of your market research and the need to better align the organization for success. By the time you present the realignment, there shouldn’t be any big surprises. Key personnel know it is coming, they understand the reasons behind it, and can help ease the communication through the company.
Next, you can adjust your teams to better align with your new mission and strategic plan.
Step 3: Take a hard look at your talent.
Once you know what your business hopes to look like in 3-6 months, you need to make sure you’ve got the right talent in place to make it happen.
“I’ve spoken to hundreds of CEOs and business owners in the past 12 months, and when inquiring how their business is, the response is a range from devastation to 2020 being the best year ever,” said McAlister. “This range has caused a massive chain reaction in the talent sector that has forced everything from furloughs to layoffs to hiring sprees. The level of activity that would normally have taken place over a year or two, was all condensed into a period of months.”
Depending on your market, there might be an abundance of talent right now.
“One business in our network was able to hire 60 FTEs of the 100 they needed within a week,” said McAlister. “This would have been nothing short of impossible prior to the pandemic crisis. The number one question I urge all leaders to ask themselves is, ‘What type of talent is now considered ‘great talent’ for your new organization’?”
Part of your talent evaluation includes looking at people’s soft skills and emotional intelligence.
When looking at your teams, you need to examine your talent and decide if they are truly effective in their current roles. Do they have the right skill set, agility and emotional intelligence to pivot to a new role or new set of responsibilities? Are they doing the right things? Are they effective in getting results? Can they manage a remote team? Your department KPIs will play an important role here. Using outside resources might also be smart.
“Our company recently partnered with Predictive Index , a leading talent analytics company, to provide talent optimization that connects the talent profile with the business strategy,” said McAlister. “Before seizing the plentiful hiring opportunities now available, let’s make sure we are starting with the right talent profile.”
Step 4: Actively communicate.
Once your reorganization is in place, you must ensure the new structure is working. That involves accountability and listening. Consider hosting monthly leadership meetings where you review your previous month’s activities, discuss what’s working and what’s not working, where you might need help, and what you have planned for next month.
“Great ideas and plans are only as good as they are interpreted by the people executing them,” said McAlister. “If your employees are consistently not delivering according to your expectations, it might mean that they don’t understand what you are trying to achieve. Good leaders need to be strong communicators and need to ensure that they and their team members are on the same page before proceeding with implementation.”
Pulling It All Together
For organizations that need help in any of these critical areas, you may need to strengthen your leadership team or seek outside assistance. Interim executives that offer proven experience and the right skillsets—including chief restructuring officers, chief human resources offers and organizational change consultants—are readily available on an interim, fractional and project basis. Bringing in additional leadership ammunition may be a wise move to ensuring a successful and timely reorganization.