Congratulations! You Have a New Org Structure in Place. Now What?

To achieve your vision, align to organizational changes, respond to new resource requirements or all of the above, you’ve spent the past several months restructuring your organization. What are the right functional areas? How do roles need to evolve? What titles should everyone have? Who reports to whom?

After months of planning, meetings and interviewing (and more meetings!), you finally have your team in place and have rolled out the new structure…only to realize a few months in that the new structure isn’t really paying off.

Maybe people still feel overloaded and are busy working on tasks that aren’t producing value. Perhaps there isn’t a clear understanding of the team’s priorities. Maybe the new ways of working that are really needed to achieve the promise of the new organization aren’t sticking, as people revert back to old, more comfortable behaviors that served them in the past.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Too often I’ve seen my clients invest time and resources in setting up a new structure only to fall short on the benefits and efficiencies they expected. This is usually because too much emphasis is placed on defining the what – what people do, what the structure looks like, what the roles are – and not enough on how the team will actually work together.

Here are some questions you can ask to test whether your new org structure is only living on paper:

1. Do your leaders have a common understanding of your priorities? It’s one thing to get leaders to conceptually agree to a path forward, it’s another to have fundamental alignment around the team’s priorities. And better yet – to see them role modeling the new behaviors required to be successful. We know leaders drive behavior change – if they walk the talk and reinforce consistent priorities, others will follow suit.

2. Are people working long days and weekends, but somehow not meeting goals? We’re all creatures of habit – we get comfortable operating in a certain way. Without individual role clarity and continuous reinforcement, it’s easy for people to not even realize they aren’t doing the right thing. Articulate what’s considered high priority work, check for understanding and don’t forget to align your expectations with leadership.

3. Is your team able to flex as priorities shift in real time? As the pace of change accelerates, it becomes even more critical that your team has the agility to react and make decisions in the moment. If everyone knows what you’re working toward and has a clear picture of your priorities, they can be a more nimble, or “liquid” team.

4. Is work being duplicated across the team? Legacy structures can create siloed perspectives. Defining and being transparent about team and individual accountabilities can break down barriers and clear up a lot of confusion and redundant work.

5. Is the team confused about who owns what or how decisions are made? It’s important for a team to co-create their common work flows and agree to who owns what. Additionally, there needs to be clarity on the various decision-making bodies, forums and decision rights in place to make swift decisions. Largely, employees should feel empowered to make decisions in the moment, and know the trigger points when something needs to be escalated.

Restructuring a team can include many difficult decisions. Spending time to collectively agree on how you want to work together shouldn’t be one of them.

What’s one thing you can do today to help your team feel better equipped for the next challenge? 

Adina Bernstein, Principal

Adina Bernstein, Principal

Adina Bernstein is an Associate Principal at Daggerwing Group. She works with clients to bring their vision to life by helping employees understand and care about the role they play. She also happens to know all the lyrics to Hamilton by listening to it on repeat during training runs for her 12 full and half marathons.

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