Change inevitably leads to uncertainty, and without proper understanding, that uncertainty can cause anxiety and worry. When planning a reorganization (more casually known as a “reorg”), follow these steps to help ensure effective communication of the changes, and that things go smoothly:
1. Be prepared
Ensure that you and other key leaders have a full understanding of why the restructure is taking place, and what can be expected moving forward. Make a list of potential FAQs, or the questions that teams and individuals may have, put together answers to those questions, and have them available for team leaders. Put together a visual of what the redesigned team will look like, and the responsibilities for each group.
Create a communications plan for rolling out the restructure and associated communication deliverables. For assistance creating a change communications plan, send us a note.
2. Communicate early and often
Once the plan is solidified, it’s important to engage the workforce as quickly as possible. What you want to avoid is the cascading of information through water cooler conversations. Through emails, town hall meetings, video messages, and other channels, you should announce the plan for the restructure, clearly conveying why the change is being made, the timeline, and what can be expected. An initial communication is a good start, but you must continue to communicate with staff on a regular cadence. Give employees updates as to how the restructure is progressing, and reiterate important information to ensure that your message is understood.
3. Encourage open, transparent discussion
In all communications, open the door for two-way discussions, and provide answers to any and all questions or concerns. If you receive a question to which you don’t readily have an answer, let the individual know that their question is a good one, but you don’t have an answer at this time and will follow up. If the question points to private information that cannot be shared, be transparent about why you are unable to provide an answer. While making an effort to speak positively, it is imperative that you always be truthful in your answers. This goes a long way toward employees feeling respected, and gaining their trust. The truth will come out one way or another, and it is better for you to control the narrative, and for your team to know they can count on you to be open and honest.
4. Handle any potential layoffs quickly and with dignity
Some restructures create redundancies, making layoffs necessary. There’s no getting around the fact that layoffs can be a huge blow to morale, but handling cuts all at once as opposed to piecemeal terminations can help to lessen any damaging effects. Communicate with affected personnel privately, and consider offering them assistance in finding new employment. Once you’ve done so, communicate to the rest of the team that layoffs were made, and explain any assistance that you’ve offered terminated employees. Reassure them that their jobs are safe and their roles are needed. Further explain how they are an integral part of the plan moving forward.
5. Don’t forget customers and other stakeholders
While it’s imperative to get employees on board, engaged, and behind the plan, it’s also important to communicate changes to affected customers and stakeholders. Gather a list of customers that may be affected, and explain what the change will mean for them, and why it is a positive adjustment to how they typically engage with your business. If appropriate, prepare and issue a press release regarding the change, the goals behind the change, and the positive effects you expect.
Though you don’t need to repeat what the initial change was, build in follow-up communications with customers in your communications plan to let them know about your early successes to further demonstrate you made a change with your customers top of mind.
Team restructures require a great deal of thought, planning, time, and work. Remember why you’ve decided to reorganize your team, and commit to engaging with you workforce every step of the way. Through purposeful, planned action, you can help to ensure that your team redesign creates the positive changes that you intended.