The new year has brought about some changes for me at the office:
- I moved down the hall to a different office because another “department” needed my space.
- Because of some recent staff changes, I took on the leadership of an additional work group and an additional team.
- Our leadership team’s main agenda lately has been to figure out how to restructure itself.
On the surface our organization (church) looks very much the same as it did last month. Is all of this change and disruption really necessary? I mean, things were working pretty well and I was comfortable in my old office. Answer: Yes!
The reason? Organizations that don’t need to adjust are probably not growing nor adapting to a changing environment. This is a sure path to an organization’s death.
There are some good and bad reasons to restructure:
Some reasons you should lead your organization to restructure:
- When you notice communication problems are creating mistakes. This often occurs in larger organizations when departments focus on their own projects resulting in conflict or competition with other departments. A restructuring may be necessary to better communicate, coordinate, and unite efforts.
- When several new staff are added, it is necessary to create new structures for communication, connection, and accountability.
- When you find a way to tackle an old problem with a new approach. Maybe separating existing departments into two new ones will allow them to better focus on meeting a need. At times combining two departments into one may create the additional resources needed to move the new department ahead faster than the older two. Often when a department is no longer working, it is better to eliminate it sooner rather than later.
- When it becomes apparent that current staff members’ strengths do not match their assignments; several job assignments may need to be adjusted to create a better fit for everyone. The best fit for a staff member who, over time, isn’t working out is another organization!
- It is best to analyze all of the issues, then create a new structure that solves several problems at once. This reduces the disruption caused by having to go through several restructurings.
- As you think through various scenarios of the new structure to make sure it will work, be sure to distinguish between probable problems to correct and possible problems to correct. If your is focus on avoiding problems that are only possible or unlikely, you’re probably not using your time well. Just move on and solve those problems when they come and you have real information to act on.
Reasons that weak leaders use to restructure; if you are in an organization like this, watch out: weak leadership alert!
- When you want to show that you can take charge and lead, but aren’t really sure what to do; restructuring gives the appearance of leadership and buys time until you figure out what in the world you are going to do. If this is your main motivation, don’t do it. Better focus on real, rather than cosmetic, accomplishments for the organization.
- When you don’t have the courage to confront other leaders in the organization; restructuring can get them out of the way without having to confront them personally. I saw this one when I was with the IMB too often. The culture of the IMB often regarded honest, direct confrontation with problem people as being mean or unChristian; so a culture of indirect communication was created to deal with problem people. Everyone knew that the likely reasons for most restructuring or new policies were that someone in leadership was afraid to confront a specific individual and needed a policy or org chart to avoid having a difficult conversation. Don’t put an organization through a disruption of a reorganization because you are afraid to confront someone.
See part 2: How to Survive a Reorganization