HOW TO: Call a restructure, a restructure
If a rose by any other name smells as sweet, then a restructure by any other name triggers as much fear and stress, right? Companies are getting very creative in coming up with new names for team restructures, but they could actually be doing more damage than they think.
As a Change Manager, I come across so many different names for, essentially, what is a restructure. Obviously, yes - you have the kinds of mergers and acquisitions, which are basically a type of restructure. But then you have: organisational change, operating model change, transformation, organisational redesign, team redesign... reshuffle. Just so many different terms for what is, essentially, the same thing.
I'm Lata Hamilton, the Founder and Head Coach of Passion Pioneers. I'm an accredited Change Manager, NLP Practitioner, and Career Change Coach. And this is the ninth article in our 15-part Reimagine Restructures Blog Series.
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So what I am going to be exploring today is why we have all of these different names and what you can do to help get your people to actually buy into the "organisational change" that you are taking them through, and to give them a different experience around what a restructure truly means.
A rose by any other name
There's a few phrases out there that talk about the importance of "naming" things: there's "call a spade a spade", "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Words and language actually are loaded with tons of meaning and different words can mean different things to different people.
The word "restructure" has quite negative connotations. It invokes the sense of a big overhaul of staff, who are basically going to lose their jobs. So we start to water our language down, we try to soften it, by using things like "operating model change" or things "team redesign". And it's not about lying – those things are true! You are changing the model of operations, you are changing the design of the team. But you can come across as inauthentic to the people who are actually impacted by the change, which is EVERYBODY in your team, or EVERYBODY in your company (if it's organisation-wide).
Everyone is impacted by a restructure
I really need to highlight here that it is NOT just the people who get redeployed or the people who are made redundant who are impacted by a restructure. From the moment you make that announcement, everybody's impacted by a restructure. So start to change what the word "restructure" means. Because we know that even if, in all of your official communications, you are calling it an "operating model change" or a "team redesign"... those corridor conversations and how people are talking about it in their OWN heads, and to THEMSELVES, is: they're calling it a "restructure"!
I'm going to give you three ideas to start thinking about how you can start to use the word "restructure" and take power back into the word and be proud of being able to say that you might be "restructuring a team" or "restructuring a company."
IDEA #1: Be truthful
So the first is to make sure that you are being honest. No matter what happens through your restructure - always provide an honest upfront view. And the honesty is not about having to lay all your cards on the table necessarily. It's actually got more to do with ENERGY. It's the energy that you are bringing to your people when you are communicating with them, and when you are doing things with them and for them.
If you are going in with an energy of being deceptive, to hide what you're truly doing, that comes through to people. People pick that up. If you're able to bring, instead, an energy of openness, an energy of transparency, an energy of honesty - whatever it is that you want to call it, that authenticity also gets shown and felt. And I think for me that's one of the reasons why using the word "restructure" is so powerful: because it IS raw, it IS real, it IS honest. You're not trying to pull the wool over your people's eyes. It's about actually taking back that word and going: “Yes, this is what's happening, but we are going to support you through it."
IDEA #2: Give clarity
People during restructures get confused and anxious about the future. They don't know what's going on. They start to question everything that's happening around them. So the more clarity that you can provide them, the more that you can give them a clear vision and a clearer view of what the future looks like in the long term, as well as at each stage through the change, and then actually STICKING to that, is going to be so powerful. Again, you're going to create more authenticity and build trust for people by giving them clarity, and you're going to help them get on board with your restructure.
IDEA #3: Reframe “restructure”
My last idea is to reframe the meaning of "restructure". We know that "restructure" is already loaded with a whole heap of negative connotations. Part of my mission with Passion Pioneers is to reframe the meaning of restructures to see them as the BEST thing that could ever possibly happen to somebody because of the opportunities created. And it's not just an opportunity for people who might go into new roles. It's an opportunity for EVERYBODY who's impacted by the change - to move forward and to do things in a new way.
A lot of what I do, especially my "REIMAGINE YOU PROGRAM" that I run for companies, is reframing what a restructure is, what it means, and what it can truly give to your people. And it's about taking that company view or that team view and actually bringing it down into a personal environment, and having people be able to tap into it one-on-one. And slowly my vision, what I hope to be able to give the world of industry, is a level of comfort, a level of confidence, and a level of courage with the word "restructure". And have it smell as sweet as any other name.
Lata Hamilton is the Founder and Head Coach of Passion Pioneers. To find out how we can help your team through your next restructure or operating model change, contact us via our website: www.passionpioneers.com.au