How to Develop a Strategic Plan for Restructuring a Department

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Whoever decides to develop a strategic plan for restructuring a department has already asked themselves the most important question: Does this department need to change? In fact, this exact question keeps employees, middle managers and the C-suite awake in the middle of the night, despite the fact that the three groups often differ widely on any solutions. While each group dithers over what to do, profits spiral downward, customer satisfaction tanks or employee disaffection and disinterest overtake productivity and engagement.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Define strategic reorganization planning as examining current business practices and staffing levels; seeking employee input; analyzing attendance and productivity benchmarks and soliciting customer satisfaction feedback. Once gathered and distilled, the resulting reorganization plan must increase efficiency and lower the costs of production and service delivery.

Heading into a departmental reorganization with a plan-in-a-box mindset shaped by such concepts as "reorganizing a department in 9 steps," may turn out OK. Nevertheless, a tailored plan that arose from giving stakeholder contributions during the brainstorming process the maximum consideration stands a far greater chance of pulling the company back on track. Sure, the information-gathering may take additional time and resources, but the increased cooperation with resulting changes will make that effort worthwhile.

Key Questions to Ask Before Restructuring a Department

Although it may seem obvious or redundant, the current situation must first undergo an examination. Answer the following questions while brainstorming additional ones:

  • What industry factors play a part in this department's success and setbacks?
  • Which of these factors has a demonstrable cause and effect relationship with the company's bottom line? 
  • What relationship do the other industry factors have on this business?
  • Who will this reorganization affect?
  • How and when will the company gather input from each of these stakeholders?
  • Which departmental functions currently contribute to company profits? 
  • Calculate the current ratio between the costs of the manpower, equipment and advertising and the profits the company makes. 
  • What return on investment does the company receive for every dollar spent? 
  • How much reduction in these ratios would it take to double, triple or quadruple profits? 
  • What adjustments would have to take place to make those reductions possible? 
  • Who will the modifications affect? 
  • How might those stakeholders react to the consequences of those changes?

Structuring a Training Department

Workplace disengagement rates ran as high as 67 percent in 2016. That included 16 percent of all United States workers actively working to thwart the objectives of the company where they work. Although that figure now stands at 13 percent as of 2018, spending time and money structuring a training department that reflects the company vision and mission continues to make sense.

Training that specifies daily, weekly and quarterly objectives and holds every team member accountable for meeting established benchmarks will reduce that 13 percent group of saboteurs even further. In addition to reducing active resistance in the organization, effective training programs also address those morale killers who draw a paycheck while producing at the lowest possible level.

Considering Company Diversity

Look beyond the simple question of politically correct or not politically correct and acknowledge that diversity brings a company to life. Whether willing to admit it or not, when companies rely on whether or not someone fits in with the rest of the crew as part of the hiring process, they inevitably commit systemic, institutionalized racism, sexism, ableism and other flawed examples of discrimination and bias, both intentional and unconscious.

If outsiders cannot tell one face from another in your company photo, it's time to make changes. In other words, one of the benefits of reorganizing a department includes doing whatever it takes to ensure that your company consists of a cross-section of humankind. Redact the names, ages and other personal identifiers from all resumes and job applications before human resources reviews them. Interview based on skills, not on assumptions based on perceived personal characteristics.

Organizing an Adaptable Marketing Department

If the analysis phase reveals that current practices already drive productive, profitable results, leave those people and protocols in place. Create a timeline for adding material and human resource support to that project to ensure continuous improvement and move on to any deficiencies in the department. Create an observation team that includes both low-performing and high-performing employees; two to four customers and two or more vendors; at least one middle manager and at least one direct report two levels above the employees on the committee.

Why Include so Many Participants?

To get people to embrace change instead of resisting it, the reasons for reorganizing a department must lose their sting well ahead of their mandatory implementation. Everyone who feels threatened or intimidated by the strategic plan process must have their say before fear affects their ability to continue working for the company. In other words, do not wait until your tech-phobic employees break down in tears on day one of the rollouts of the improved software that the advanced planning team discussed last year.

For example, four members of Calling Team Two had never used any automatic dialing software at all. They were the second-most productive team in the room, but the top team called five times as many customers in half the time. This huge gap in production between each team resulted in frequent idle time for Team One while the managers decided which campaigns they should dial next. When Team Two called those files later that same day, the result was confusion and frustration for customers.

The initial planning team for the departmental reorganization included a group leader, the department head and the vice president of marketing, each of whom had extensive backgrounds in software development. None of the three held less than a master's degree in business administration. These managers made a unanimous decision to take bids for the automated dialing system needed without considering the learning curve each team might require. As a result, all four members of Team Two quit the company within a week of the autodialer rollout.

Take These Actions to Reduce Resistance to Change

The following battle plan will help reduce resistance to the changes that must occur to ensure the department continues to drive profits and to keep customer satisfaction and employee morale in the top tier against similar companies in your industry. This ensures that the company retains its reputation as the supplier, customer and employer of choice.

  • Involve all stakeholders in the planning process from the beginning of the assessment phase through the rollout of the final restructuring.
  • Include affected parties in discussions of what solutions the company needs to implement in order to remain productive.
  • Communicate clearly about any possible cuts in wages, hours or positions as early as possible. 
  • Assist any employees who decide not to remain with the company in their efforts to find new opportunities with other firms.
  • Thank employees early and often when they decide to ride the wave of change.
  • Identify all training needs.
  • Train personnel to use new tools and techniques long before the final rollout takes place. 
  • Include a testing and feedback phase before and after implementing any changes. 
  • Create a new organizational chart detailing who reports to whom, including photos and biographical information about each person.

Among these recommendations, transparent communication about upcoming layoffs and any potential retraining requirements will reduce resistance the most. In fact, the goodwill gained when the company helps employees transition smoothly from their current positions into new opportunities elsewhere may become a central feature of future recruiting.

References

About the Author

After earning a B.S. Ed. from Kent State University in 1995, Smith provided educational support in multiple Ohio school districts. Smith has managed nine employees and 86 independent adult care providers at a time. In addition, Smith has assisted two charities with successful 501 (C) 3 applications, serving on the board of one for three years. Currently, Smith serves as an independent Avon representative at Avon Beauty by Laura. Her writing chops include one published novel and close to 1500 articles in various online and offline publications.