Magazine article Training & Development

Managing before a Reorganization

Magazine article Training & Development

Managing before a Reorganization

Article excerpt

A major reorganization study is underway at your organization. Rumors are spreading. Significant changes could be in the works. Everyone is anxious-vice-presidents, managers, supervisors, technicians, and secretaries. There is a feeling of tension and uncertainty in the hallways. Clusters of employees are having private discussions. Managers are behind closed doors more than usual.

Such scenarios are becoming more common. Fueled by an uncertain economy and an increased need to compete, more and more companies have been forced to reorganize and downsize. In fact, a recent study by Right Associates found that 73 percent of 909 companies surveyed have downsized in the last five years. Twenty-six percent of those companies had fewer than 500 employees, indicating that downsizing is not a trend just for large corporations.

That's not a comforting thought for employees who are picking up clues that a reorganization is in the making at their. own workplaces. Talk of reorganization can lead to feelings of uncertainty, psychological turmoil, and powerlessness-which can result in absenteeism, accidents, illness, lost productivity, stress, conflicts, depression, missed deadlines, poor quality, and irate clients.

Managers can play a significant role in turning such feelings around. True, lower-level managers may not be able to influence executive decisions, but they can influence how their work groups handle feelings of uncertainty.

Effectively managing and involving people leads to feelings of empowerment for employees. And creating empowered people is the best thing managers can do for themselves, their people, and their companies.

Charge ahead

The effective, managers need to focus on what they can control or influence, and take action-and they need to put all of their effort into what they can control or influence, even if they can influence only 10 percent of what's happening.

During uncertain times, managers have an opportunity to show true leadership. They can actively work on what they are responsible for and help employees deal with their anxieties and concerns about the reorganization.

Managers should communicate what they know and be clear about what they don't know. Most of the time, at least in the early stages of a reorganization, people will have more questions than managers can answer. Being honest and truthful is important. Managers should share what the can and be clear about what they can't discuss. Managers should also be open about what hasn't been decided and about what they don't know.

They should explain the rationale for the reorganization study. Managers should also be prepared for some typical questions:

* Who is doing the reorganization study?

* Why is it being done now?

* What are senior management's business concerns?

* What's happening in the industry?

* How does this study link into the future direction of the company?

* What problems are being addressed by the study?

* What is the time frame?

* What phase of the study are we now in? What is the next step?

* When will we know our situation?

* Will there be a voluntary termination package? An involuntary package?

* If involuntary terminations occur, on what basis will those decisions he made? Will terminations be based on performance, tenure, or skills?

* Will there be an outplacement program?

Manager should be visible and listen. They should hold frequent meetings - both scheduled and informal. They should stay in touch with their people and listen to their concerns.

Often they will need to listen without being able to give answers. That's OK. People often just want to talk. It's important to listen, to be supportive and to use coaching skills.

Listening people's concerns will give managers insight into perceived or real problems. …

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