What I Learned through Restructuring My Team

Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/@rawpixel

Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/@rawpixel

Over the last year, I reorganized FrogDog. I flattened the reporting structure, added new team members, replaced staff, and reworked roles and responsibilities.

This process meant that, even for existing staff, I’d created an entirely new world—which meant that I effectively had an entirely new team.

Stressful? Extremely. I needed to rebuild trust, develop working relationships between and across team members, and reassure everyone amid an entirely new and untested environment.

I’ve learned a lot:

Work in the Business, Not on It

Experts tell business owners and leaders to stop working in their companies and instead work on their companies. Get out of personally delivering products and services and focus on running and improving their businesses. Otherwise, companies can never grow.

All true.

Yet in a massive reorganization, company leadership needs to work in the company to work on the company. Restructuring puts the business owner straight back into the day-to-day working of the business and its delivery—no short cuts and no delegation.

During this process, you will miss opportunities and business growth will stall. However, if you feel the realignment necessary to the health of the company, spending the time and focus needed to get it right provides the only way to real growth down the line.

Stay Close to Your Team and Clients

You can’t issue new edicts to your team about how things will go forward—new roles, new responsibilities, new reporting structures, staff changes—and expect everything to change and work as described and envisioned.

Instead, you need to explain the changes and then live the changes with your team. You need to train and retrain. You need to work alongside everyone as they struggle through the new corporate order. You need to rebuild their confidence and trust, listen to their concerns and ideas, and ensure that you make tweaks as needed while the new structure gels.

At the same time, you need to stay in close contact with your customers, who will sense the changes in your company and team. You don’t want the staff’s understandable stress and uncertainty to cause your customers undue concern. Make sure clients know what you have underway and ensure they know they can contact you at any time if they have questions.

Hunker Down for a Long Haul

Sound like hard work? You betcha. And you can’t plow through the effort quickly, either. Realignment takes longer than you think.

In my case, it took about nine months to get through the thick of the effort, though kinks still needed smoothing, processes still needed refinement, and I still had to shift my “in the business” workload over to staff members newly ready to shoulder it. I couldn’t switch back to working on the business overnight—I’ve had to transition slowly.

In fact, as I write, the transition continues. I’d guess that I have a few more months ahead of me before everything truly hums. But so far, so good—and the changes look like they will prove worthy of the effort.

Have you ever gone through a restructuring? What helped you—or would have helped you?