Tips for a Successful Company Reorg

HR leadership and the executive team can alleviate much of the pain that comes with internal reorganizations by considering employees first, taking time to communicate and listen effectively, and following up on promises.

Big and small companies alike can experience the moment when they realize internal restructuring may be the best path forward for improved efficiency, a better track to increase revenue, and an opportunity to improve corporate reputation. According to McKinsey and Co., 70 percent of reorganizations in North America led to increased value for the companies. Though the benefits are obvious, the process doesn’t come without challenge.

People are fearful or uncomfortable when it comes to change and all-around apprehensive about the word, “reorg.” Employees wonder what’s at risk for them, managers may forget to consider emotion in their communication, and the entire process can just get messy. Here are some tips HR managers and executives should incorporate when undergoing a reorganization.

1. Put Employees First

During any type of corporate restructuring, employees require the most attention of any group. It’s important to not only let them know what is happening, but also why it’s happening. If you’re reorganizing for strategic reasons or to hit certain growth objectives, this is an opportunity to get your employees pumped and motivated about what’s to come. During the week of the announcement, give employees frequent opportunities to ask questions in casual settings such as impromptu breakfasts or lunch gatherings.

2. Use Easy-to-Digest Visuals

It’s hard for employees to absorb all of the changes in a 30-minute meeting. Once the initial message sinks in, they inevitably start to wonder what the new reporting structure will look like, if their job titles and responsibilities will change, who their new boss will be, and if they’ll have new coworkers. During the announcement, use visual tools to showcase what the organization will look like. Help teams digest the news by giving each employee an updated org chart with this information. People feel better knowing that the chaos of change is over and knowing what to expect moving forward.

3. Allow Employees to Contribute

Over the days, and sometimes even hours, following the announcement, employees inevitably will have conversations HR leadership isn’t privy to. Identify employees who are naturally more outgoing and connected and get them excited about what’s happening so when water cooler conversations come up, you have internal champions who can advocate for change on an employee level.

Also, if teams are physically relocating as a part of the change, allow them to pack their belongings and move themselves. They’ll feel like they have more control over the situation than if someone were to move their belongings for them. And this presents an opportunity for departments to build camaraderie as they relocate together.

It’s also important for all employees to receive the same news at one time, if at all possible. Don’t make the costly mistake of keeping things secret or informing certain pockets of the organization before others. Word gets around, and before you know it, news of the reorganization is circulating before you’re able to deliver a controlled, structured message to everyone.

Plan for the Emotional Side of Change

Living through a reorg can be challenging and stressful, to say the least. Many feel unsettled and fearful of what’s next. Some may experience survivors’ remorse because close colleagues were affected by the change. It’s important for HR leadership to prepare for the emotional side effects that stem from restructuring and allow time for discussion as needed. Leadership should clear their schedules during the week of the announcement to allow time for meetings with teams or individuals. Be as hands-on as possible and pull team members aside for one-on-one discussions as needed.

Share the Wins

Corporate reorganizations aren’t drills to be handled in one swift week and never mentioned again. Since you shared the reasons behind the restructuring in your initial announcement, be sure to share the results of the reorganization in the weeks and months that follow. Is the company growing, performing better, or meeting core business objectives? Share this with the team. It’s not only nice for employee morale and confidence, it’s also good for leaders to hold themselves accountable.

Whether your company is restructuring for reasons of opportunity, growth, or necessity, the process doesn’t have to be negative for you or your employees. HR leadership and the executive team can alleviate much of the pain that comes with internal reorganizations by considering employees first, taking time to communicate and listen effectively, and following up on promises.

Bill Boebel is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of Pingboard. He previously was CTO of Rackspace Email and co-founded Webmail, the largest business-grade email hosting company at the time. Boebel also co-founded Capital Factory, which helps entrepreneurs in Austin, TX, build great companies.


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